Essay on John Milton 's Paradise Lost

Essay on John Milton 's 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 monsters. Milton 's poem exchanges many ancient values for Christian ideals in its characters and themes. Nevertheless, Milton 's work follows another English epic that carries the same strong Christian values found in a more traditional epic from an earlier period in English history. The hero Beowulf, of the poem of the same name, despite his apparent pagan heritage acts as Christian hero. In fact, according to McNamee, Beowulf an allegory for Christ (335-338). Parallels in character and themes uncovered between Paradise Lost and Beowulf provides additional proof of the influence of the Christian movement in English literature. Addison supports Milton 's inclusion of Satan 's fall stating the importance of establishing the enemy of mankind and the adversary of God (Addison 2658).
In the early lines of Milton 's Paradise Lost, Satan finds himself and his followers cast into Hell, a place of fire and darkness (Milton lines 45-74). Milton describes the anguish and misery of the fallen and the...


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...an story, also follows this pattern and appears to have strongly influenced the tale of Beowulf.
The convergent themes of Paradise Lost and Beowulf reveal powerful religious undertones. 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 epic.

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