Essay about Milton 's Reformation Of The Epic Tradition

Essay about Milton 's Reformation Of The Epic Tradition

Length: 1262 words (3.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Milton’s Reformation of the Epic Tradition
The epic genre has existed for centuries and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. However, as culture and values change so does the epic tradition. Milton played a large role in introducing the Christian worldview to the epic tradition through the epic poem Paradise Lost. Instead of continuing the tradition through humanistic values, Milton applies his faith to the epic genre and allows Christian values and truths to permeate through the text of Paradise Lost.

First of all, it is important to address that Milton’s Paradise Lost still contains many elements that define it as a member of the epic genre. It follows the story of a hero (or anti-hero), it involves warfare and elements of the supernatural, it begins in the midst of the action, with earlier events in the broader story brought back through flashbacks (Satan’s forces are defeated after the battle in heaven), and it expresses the ideals and values of a people group (Christians). He even invokes a muse though not the ones who inspired the traditional epics. Instead he calls upon the Holy Spirit to be his inspiration for the epic surrounding the events of the fall of humanity. Although Milton did not reject the epic genre he certainly reformed many of its characteristics in accordance with his Christian faith.

One of the main differences Milton introduces to the epic genre is how he presents the protagonist. Many readers and critics can’t seem to come to a consensus on who the protagonist of Paradise Lost is. Many would say that Satan is the protagonist as we closely follow his actions and thinking patterns throughout the poem. The epic begins in the depths of hell right after Satan and the fallen angels had been ...

... middle of paper ...

...s stated earlier; that in the traditional epic form the hero is defined by traits of bravery, courage, honor and victory but Milton’s reformed epic values freedom in Christ, love, humility and dependence in Christ. Milton’s faith caused these values to be placed above those of the traditional epic. Although the poem ends on a dark event the ending is still somewhat hopeful as Adam and Eve leave the garden hand in hand having acquired these virtues through their error.

In Paradise Lost, Milton displays the Christian worldview by integrating truths and values of his faith in place of humanistic values. Key elements such as the nature of the protagonist, the setting in which the epic takes place, and rudiments of the plot convey the fundamental aspects of Christianity. Milton took his worldview and applied it to a worldly genre, revolutionizing the epic tradition.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Christianity and Greek Epic Tradition as Devices for Milton's Object in Paradise Lost

- Christianity and Greek Epic Tradition as Devices for Milton's Object in Paradise Lost The widely known story of the Genesis account in the Bible of the creation and fall of humankind does not make for a very interesting story. Almost anyone familiar with Western tradition can provide at least this basic outline: God makes angels, the best angel wants to be God, the angel gets kicked out of Heaven into Hell, goes to the garden of Eden, persuades Eve to eat an apple, and down plunges humanity. So why, then, did Milton choose to use this particular piece of Biblical narrative, first, above his original intention of an Arthurian tale, and second, above any other account in the 66 books of the...   [tags: Milton Paradise Lost Essays]

Better Essays
2721 words (7.8 pages)

Essay on Milton's Use of the Homeric Tradition of Epic Simile in "Paradise Lost"

- Throughout the epic Paradise Lost by John Milton, we see Milton continue the Homeric tradition of epic simile for a number of reasons. Initially Milton may just be using these simile’s to stay true to the decorum of the epic at the time, but the simile’s also do something more for the reader. They show us Milton’s attitude toward Satan, the relationship of heroic to Christian values and more. It is quite interesting that thus far in the epic Milton does not use an epic simile to describe God, which may set the heavens and it’s All powerful king in it’s own terms....   [tags: Classic Literature]

Better Essays
1296 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on Epic Characteristics of Milton's Paradise Lost

- Paradise Lost is one of the finest examples of the epic tradition in all of literature. In composing this extraordinary work, John Milton was, for the most part, following in the manner of epic poets of past centuries: Barbara Lewalski notes that Paradise Lost is an "epic whose closest structural affinities are to Virgil's Aeneid . . . "; she continues, however, to state that we now recognize as well the influence of epic traditions and the presence of epic features other than Virgilian. Among the poem's Homeric elements are its Iliadic subject, the death and woe resulting from an act of disobedience; the portrayal of Satan as an Archillean hero motivated by a sense of injured merit and...   [tags: Epics Milton Paradise Lost Essays]

Free Essays
3232 words (9.2 pages)

Essay on John Milton 's Paradise Lost

- John Milton’s Paradise Lost continues the epic tradition developed by the ancient Greek and Roman poets. Composed in exact imitation of its predecessors, the work depicts all characteristics of a traditional epic poem—including the epic hero, a powerful embodiment of societal values. Milton presents his hero in a most unpredictable form: Satan. Despite the unorthodox oddity, the former archangel exhibits the conventions of an epic hero. Milton’s forced perception of Satan as the hero of the poem reflects his stated purpose for writing the piece....   [tags: Epic poetry, Paradise Lost, John Milton, Homer]

Better Essays
736 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on John Milton 's Paradise Lost

- 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....   [tags: Beowulf, Epic poetry, John Milton, Hell]

Better Essays
782 words (2.2 pages)

John Milton 's Paradise Lost Essay

- John Milton grew up in a middle class family in London and was exposed highly to a variety of cultures. His father was highly devoted to the Protestant cause and this devotion wore off on Milton, which be demonstrated in many of his works. At the age 13, Milton began his formal education and was even tutored at home. He went on to several different higher learning opportunities and programs. By 1652, Milton found himself to be completely blind due to his long nights reading next to candle light....   [tags: John Milton, Epic poetry, Paradise Lost]

Better Essays
1247 words (3.6 pages)

John Milton's Paradise Lost as Christian Epic Essay example

- Paradise Lost as Christian Epic John Milton's great epic poem, Paradise Lost, was written between the 1640's and 1665 in England, at a time of rapid change in the western world. Milton, a Puritan, clung to traditional Christian beliefs throughout his epic, but he also combined signs of the changing modern era with ancient epic style to craft a masterpiece. He chose as the subject of his great work the fall of man, from Genesis, which was a very popular story to discuss and retell at the time. His whole life had led up to the completion of this greatest work; he put over twenty years of time and almost as many years of study and travel to build a timeless classic....   [tags: Milton Paradise Lost Essays]

Better Essays
1144 words (3.3 pages)

Paradise Lost By John Milton Essay

- “Solitude sometimes is best society” (Book IX, Line 249), a famous quote in John Milton’s 17th cen. epic poem Paradise Lost, summarizes a separation from Heaven which results in the fall of Lucifer, one of God’s fallen angels. The silent battle between God and Satan, the development of characters and the themes in the epic adds to a better overall understanding of the Milton 's poem. The work is one of literature’s most profound, giving its audience an exclusive look at fate, free will and morality....   [tags: Paradise Lost, Epic poetry, John Milton]

Better Essays
2194 words (6.3 pages)

Rewriting the Epic Tradition to Reshape the Societal Role of Women Essay example

- Rewriting the Epic Tradition to Reshape the Societal Role of the Woman In Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s epic-novel, she creates a hybrid form. By mixing both the epic as well as the novel, she is mixing a traditionally male genre with a traditionally female genre. Women, traditionally seen as emotional beings meant to be a man’s “helpmate” as well as a caretaker of children are seen in a new light in Aurora Leigh. Men are also given new roles. As Barrett Browning writes of the epic and poetic tradition, “Their sole work is to represent the age, /Their age, not Charlemagne's,–this live, throbbing age…” (Barrett Browning V.202-203)....   [tags: literature, epic novel, gender equality]

Better Essays
1958 words (5.6 pages)

Free Essay on Milton's Paradise Lost - Paradise Lost as an Epic

- Paradise Lost as an Epic   The Oxford English Dictionary defines "cosmos" as "the world or universe as an ordered and harmonious system," from the Greek, "kosmos," referring to an ordered and/or ornamental thing. Though Pythagoras is credited with first using this term to describe the Universe, probably since he is also the one most commonly cited for ideas of harmony and the Musica Mundana, cosmos is generally a contrast to "chaos"-"the first state of the universe." In explaining the theology and cosmology of Paradise Lost, Milton writes, "the heavens and earth/ Rose out of Chaos," describing the move from the formless mass to the ordered whole....   [tags: Milton Paradise Lost Essays]

Free Essays
1720 words (4.9 pages)