Essay On John Milton’s Paradise Lost Defense For The Allegory Of Sin And Death

1568 words - 6 pages

Defense for the Allegory of Sin and Death in Paradise Lost

Milton claims his epic poem Paradise Lost exceeds the work of his accomplished predecessors. He argues that he tackles the most difficult task of recounting the history of not just one hero, but the entire human race. However, he does not appear to follow the conventional rules of an epic when he introduces an allegory into Paradise Lost through his portrayal of Sin and Death in Book II. Some readers denounce his work for this inconsistency, but others justify his action and uncover extremely important symbolism from this "forbidden" literal device.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines an epic "a long narrative poem in elevated style recounting the deeds of a legendary or historical hero" ("epic," def. 1) and allegory as "the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence" ("allegory," def. 1). Based on these definitions, it is unclear whether allegories fit into a true epic. From one perspective, such extended symbolism is not appropriate because it relies on "fictional figures" whereas an epic is based on a "historical hero". For this reason, some readers may dislike Milton’s extended symbolism of Sin and Death since it violates the traditional form of an epic. However From another point of view, an allegory is an acceptable literary component to an epic because it is considered an element of "elevated style". Therefore, other readers may see nothing wrong with Milton’s literary decision.

Milton’s poetic license entitles him to write as he pleases and therefore justifies his adaptation of an allegory into his epic. It is clearly apparent that Milton recognizes this privilege when he addresses the tradition of Rime before beginning Book I of Paradise Lost. In "The Verse" he denounces Rime as a "necessary Adjunct or true Ornament of Poem or good Verse" (4). His adverse opinion of Custom further emphasizes his contrary relationship to the classics. Therefore, it is no surprise that Milton challenges traditional epic form by including an allegory.

In addition, Milton was not the first epic poet to alter the customary form of an epic. Renowned authors preceding him, including Vergil and Ariosto, exercised their poetic licensee to variation and individuality as well. Vergil effectively combined Roman epic attributes with tragic, pastoral, satiric, and political sub genres in The Aeneid, and Ariosto combined romance with epic in Orlando Furioso. With this in mind, Milton merely exercised a preexisting practice of altering traditional epic form by integrating an allegory into his work. Even readers who are skeptical about the allegory’s valid placement must realize that without these accumulated variations in writing style, new, distinctive qualities in literature could not possibly evolve.

An allegory can be interpreted at two different levels: literally and interpretively. The literal...

Find Another Essay On Essay on John Milton’s Paradise Lost - Defense for the Allegory of Sin and Death

Milton’s Paradise Lost Essay

1772 words - 7 pages This essay-like commentary is aimed at discussing how John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) conforms to the genre of Epic or Heroic Poetry. In order to achieve that first they will be enlightened the similarities of this work, in both form and content, with the general characteristics of the genre. Afterwards, a closer look will be provided to the way Milton’s work incorporates and adapts the elements that the classical period and Old English added

Milton’s Paradise Lost Essay

4316 words - 17 pages to at least in some way be the victor. Bibliography 1. Baugh, Albert, C. A Literary History of England. 2nd ed. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1967. 681-696. 2. Cliff Notes on Milton’s Paradise Lost. Ed. Roy C. Flannagan. Lincoln: Cliff Notes. 1994. 3. Collier’s Encyclopedia. Ed. Halsey, William, D., and Bernard Johnston. Vol.16. New York: MacMillan Educational Company, 1988. 532. 4. Collier’s Encyclopedia. Ed. Halsey

The Temptation of Eve in Milton’s Paradise Lost

2773 words - 11 pages The Temptation of Eve in Milton’s Paradise Lost “Dream not of other worlds,” the angel Raphael warns Adam in Miltons’s Paradise Lost (VIII.175). Eve, however, dreams of another world in which she will gain knowledge and power, a wish that is superficially fulfilled when she succumbs to Satan’s temptation and eats from the Tree of Knowledge. Awakening in the Garden of Eden as though from a dream, Eve searches for her identity and her place

Turmoil of Milton’s World Reflected in Milton’s Paradise Lost

1298 words - 5 pages The Turmoil of Milton’s World Reflected in Paradise Lost "To explain the ways of God to men" (Invocation, 26) Milton loftily proclaims his goal in writing Paradise Lost. He will, he asserts, clarify many ambiguities of the Bible itself. Thereby begins one of the greatest epic poems in literary history – and the war of the sexes is raised to new heights. Milton claims to be the mouthpiece of God. If so, God was quite the rhetorician, not to

An Analysis of Satan's Final Speech in Milton’s Paradise Lost

1798 words - 7 pages intellect. With Eve's faith in God severely shaken and her hopes raised for the future, her decision to eat of the tree is a foregone conclusion. Works Cited Milton, John. Paradise Lost. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors. Ed. M. H. Abrams. 6th ed. New York: Norton, 1990. 770-71.

Changing the World in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Cavendish’s The Blazing World

1141 words - 5 pages Changing the World in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Cavendish’s The Blazing World It only takes one person or one event to change the course of the world. Eve changes the world and the course of humanity when she eats from the tree of knowledge in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. In Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World, the Empress single-handedly changes the world she rules for the worse, and then changes it back again. The message is that

John Miltons Paradise Lost

2139 words - 9 pages to carry on after falling from God. Adam sees that much good will come from his sin in the end. Bibliography: Works Cited Masson, David. Afterword “A Brief Life of Milton” Paradise Lost. By John Milton. Ed. Scott Elledge. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993. Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. Scott Elledge. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993. Wagenknecht, Edward. The Personality of Milton. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970.

John Milton: Paradise Lost

1533 words - 6 pages In John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Satan seeks revenge against God and causes the fall of man. He deceives Adam and Eve and gets them to disobey God. God ends up seeming cruel because of the way He punishes Adam and Eve but, He’s not. God could have killed them for disobeying him, instead He’s giving them a second chance with life, its just going to be a harder life. God is just doing what He has to by sending them out of the Garden. He is the high

John Milton's Paradise Lost

3120 words - 12 pages John Milton's Paradise Lost John Milton’s Paradise Lost is filled with fantastical tales from the depths of Hell, extravagant descriptions of the fallen angels, and a curious recitation of the council of demons in their new palace. How did Milton dream up such vivid depictions of such horrible demons as the ones we see in Book I? Most of his fallen angels originate in the form of Pagan gods condemned by the Bible, with actual historical

Quest for Knowledge in Milton’s Paradise Lost - How Much can Humans Know?

3320 words - 13 pages . In Paradise Lost , Raphael tells Adam similar sentiments when Adam questions him on the nature of the universe in Book VIII. However, Raphael goes on to warn Adam not to ponder deeply things that he can never know fully. This type of curiosity and desire for learning only leads to sin. Yet, while Raphael is warning Adam not to think of these things, he himself speculates on the nature of the universe, planting ideas in Adam’s

The comparison between John Milton's "Paradise Lost" and its basis on The Bible.

2894 words - 12 pages Paradise Lost, John Milton is fully aware of his limitations as a mortal man; however, in an attempt to transcend the finite to the infinite, to describe the indescribable and to understand the unknown, Milton bases his arguments on Biblical theology to show that mankind has fallen from immortality to mortality and that its fallen nature prevents its physical and intellectual “sight” from comprehending the spiritual realm. Milton bases

Similar Essays

Essay On Myth Of The Fortunate Fall In John Milton’s Paradise Lost

3787 words - 15 pages overtones here) is lost because liberty is tied to "right reason" and depends on reason to moderate the passions. But now that sin is in the world, the passions often eclipse reason. The passions forever after will "to servitude reduce/Man till then free" (xii. 83-90). Worst of all, the Fall is most fortunate, throughout the entire history of the world, until the final triumph, not for mankind but for Sin and Death, and most of the time for the demons as

Treatise For The Christian Soldier In John Milton’s Paradise Lost

3875 words - 16 pages . As a realistic pacifist, Milton saw war as the result of sin, but knew that because of the presence of sin in a post-lapsarian world, war on earth would only be ended by the Son, just as he ended it in Heaven. Works Cited Fish, Stanley Eugene. Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1967. Hanford, James Holly. "Milton and the Art of War." John Milton, Poet and Humanist: essays by James Holly

Sin And Death In John Milton's Paradise Lost

2555 words - 10 pages Sin and Death in Paradise Lost       Abstract: Death assumes in his original argument, with most readers of Paradise Lost, that Satan is all bad, having rejected God, and presumably that his charisma is illusory. Sin assumes, with Empson, that Satan's entire career, including his corruption of Eve, is the project of an all-powerful and sinister God. By the time Satan gets to Mt. Niphates in Book IV he is convinced of both; he

Narcissism In John Milton’s Paradise Lost

789 words - 3 pages Narcissism in John Milton’s Paradise Lost When Eve eats the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, her decision to tell Adam of her disobedience turns on two suppositions. If her transgression is kept secret from God, Eve's augmented knowledge might increase Adam's love for her, and perhaps cause her to be more equal or even superior to Adam. Even though Eve was created comparable to Adam as his helper, she refers to Adam as her "Author