Values In Paradise Lost

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The values of a culture reside in its stories, heroes embody the best of a culture, monsters personify the worst. These stories called epics follow a tradition beginning in the ancient world and carried into the Age of Reason. Milton 's poem alters the standard pattern followed by ancient poets; yet, Paradise Lost receives validation from Addison in an article supporting its status as a heroic epic (2657-2658). Addison lists the qualities of the epics of Greece and Rome and parallels them to conventions found in Milton 's poem; the traditions of the ancients remain, yet the values revealed in the heroes reflect Christian mores. Paradise Lost continues this tradition featuring the heroic struggle of humanity against evil personified by infernal…show more content…
Milton describes the anguish and misery of the fallen and the darkness and hopeless nature of Hell. Milton 's description of Hell is mirrored in the images of Grendel 's lair a foul place of darkness (McNamee 341-343). Other parallels exist between the monsters of the two poems; for instance, both Grendel and Satan are removed from the fellowship of God. Unable to bridge their separation they seek instead to punish and destroy men within their reach. Grendel haunts the hall of the good King Hrothgar, murders Hrothgar 's warriors and terrorizes the people of the hall (Beowulf lines 120-169). Satan, seeking vengeance against Heaven, searches for man intending to corrupt God 's creation in retaliation for the fall (Milton lines 345-385). Hamilton, in her essay The Religious Principle in Beowulf, characterizes Grendel as filled with envy, resentment, and wrath. Estranged from fellowship with God, Satan, filled with jealousy and anger, shares both the crimes and punishment of Grendel. Again the poems parallel each other in character and theme. Grendel and Satan outcast and enraged unified in their hatred of God 's creation…show more content…
The martial hero Beowulf acts with temperance in the face of Unferth 's insults (Beowulf lines 329-332). The Son suffers torment and death in obedience to the will of God (Milton lines 387-420). The stories told in these poems appear dissimilar; yet, powerful Christian themes create an undeniable parallel between them. The price for victory over their supernatural opponents demands the heroes, Beowulf and the Son, sacrifice their lives. Even as these men recognize the cost of their victory, they remain resolved in fulfilling their destiny. The themes of these works may have deviated from the values of the ancient poets; however, the courage and sacrifice of the heroes remains
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