The fallen angels are Satan's minions and the voices by which
Milton may express a variety of opinions and views, showing the diversity
and intricacies of Hell, and the immorality of their actions and proposals.
Whilst we are often impressed by the skill with which the individual
leaders perform their tasks and speeches, we are never left in any doubt as
to the truth of G-d, and the futility of their debates. By examining the
angels as a group, Milton is able to leave the infernal dungeon, to take a
flight throughout history, giving his own point of view. It is thus that
Books I and II of "Paradise Lost" are so unique, as the alternative, and
less-frequently explored world of the devils, is probed in such a
Milton uses the story of the fallen angels to open out on numerous
eras, civilisations, myths and stories, allowing him to convey his own
perception of the world's history, as the reader is guided through various
points in time. Before we are introduced to the individuals, Milton
depicts an enormous army of different species, each of changeable size and
form. The image of a "pitchy cloud / Of locusts" to describe them as they
rise from the burning lake is especially apt, given the destructive nature
of, and biblical references to these insects. Milton states that they lost
their original names after the Fall ("Got them new names, till wand'ring
o'er the earth") and that they became known to man as the heathen idols of
the Old Testament and the pagan deities of Egypt and Greece. A rich
portrait of mythological and biblical history is painted, t...
... middle of paper ...
...ilton. New York: Norton, 1957.
Elledge, Scott, ed. Paradise Lost: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Sources,
Criticism. New York: Norton, 1975.
Fox, Robert C. "The Allegory of Sin and Death in Paradise Lost." Modern Language
Quarterly 24 (1963): 354-64.
---. "Milton's 'Sin': Addenda." Philological Quarterly 42 (1963): 120-21.
Johnson, Samuel. "Paradise Lost." Elledge 521-34.
Lewis, C. S. A Preface to Paradise Lost. Rpt. New York: Oxford UP, 1979.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. In John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose. Ed.
Merritt Y. Hughes. Indianapolis: Odyssey, 1980.
O'Keeffe, Timothy J. "An Analogue to Milton's 'Sin' and More on the Tradition."
Milton Quarterly 5 (1971): 74-77.
Patrick, John M. "Milton, Phineas Fletcher, Spenser, and Ovid--Sin at Hell's Gates."
Notes and Queries Sept. 1956: 384-86.
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