“Paradise Lost” by John Milton

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“Paradise Lost” by John Milton

“Paradise Lost” is a poem which was written by John Milton-an English poet in the 16th century. The original edition of the poem was published in the year 1667 (Martindale, 1986). The work created a stable stand for the author since it is one of his most significant works. The poem is a ‘Christian epic of humanity.’ The epic draws its origin from a common and simple biblical story of Adam and Eve. It focuses on the events which led to the fall of man due to their disobedience to God. In his story, Milton holds that Lucifer (who later became the devil) was thrown into hell by angels from heaven. The events came after he could not accept that God was supreme. Lucifer stayed in a lake of fire for nine days before he arose and declared that everything had not been lost. He decided to take revenge on God and aroused allies. He brought allies in the form of spirits and started working towards his purpose which was to deceive and influence God’s creation into disobedience. The devil (Satan) organized a meeting with his allies to deliberate on the actions they would take against God. Satan got into a snake inform of a spirit and influenced Eve to eat a fruit which was forbidden by God. The act was sinful and led to disobedience of God. Through his unique way of writing, the reader understands how people can easily fall into evil and the outcome of the sin.

Milton uses a simple story in his epic. The story of human ‘fall’ blends well with different ideologies such as puritan ideas, domestic and political ideals, and Renaissance humanism (Martindale, 1986). At the beginning of the epic, Milton prays to God to help him write well. The epic has several themes. One of the major themes is explained in the justification of the disobedience of God which leads to the fall of man. God’s actions and his later decision to bring salvation to people depicts that God is right. The author explores the events that led to the disobedience of man. The primary cause of the fall is disobeying God which is caused by Eve. Although Eve cannot justify her reasons for revolt, Adam disobeys God for a mare reason that he wants companionship from Eve. Through this justification, he holds on the reasons as to why people must act rationally.

The decision by Adam to eat the forbidden fruit justifies the free will of a person. A person should be able to make choices whether they are good or bad. However, people should take responsibility for their actions. Milton does not hold that God had all the plans on the destiny of the man before his creation. Milton is a humanist who has faith in the adventure and faith of man. He believes that God was right to leave Adam and Eve alone for a while so that their reasoning would be free. By exposing them to evil, He justified that people are creatures that can take care of themselves. His punishment to Adam and Eve was also justified. Milton also believes in the orthodox views of the second redemption. He argues that the redemption of human beings through Christ will bring a better outcome than paradise. Therefore, he believes that Adam and Eve act of sinning was useful towards the redemption of humanity.

Paradise Lost can be seen as a mental pilgrimage. Losing the first paradise leads to finding another one within our lives, which may have better results in the future. Garden of Eden restricts Adam and Eve. Although God may have been impressed by their way of living, Adam and Eve could never have developed spiritually. God withheld knowledge from Adam and Eve, and thus their obedience can be seen as insignificant. The fall of man and the loss of Paradise can be seen as a result of ignorance and innocence. Men, therefore, can attain a rebirth spiritually through the ability to control their passions. Milton uses an engaging writing style in the Paradise Lost. The style presents ideas in a way that is well-crafted, elevated, and unique from that styles used by other authors. Some analysts and readers are fascinated by the language which is used in the epic. His poetry has a lot of Latin influence, and some critics argue that the author compromised the English language. However, the poem has contributed to crafting of English language as a literary tool. Milton unique style is seen through different aspects; the theme, music and rhythm, figures used in the speech, dignity, diction, and syntax.

Milton rhythm or meter in his poem is known as the blank verse. Although it is not an ordinary black verse like in other literary works, he uses several lines which do not rhyme. Analysts hold that he uses the blank verse for his purpose as well as convenience. In his epic poem, Milton uses lines which contain ten syllables. However, the lines do not have a specific number of stresses. The lines have a minimum of three and a maximum of eight stresses. His style does not, therefore, follow the traditional style of variation in poetry. Stresses’ position and degree also vary in the poem. Another crucial feature in the poem is the caesura or the pause. Milton uses a style whereby; the caesura is found in different positions of each line. The weight of the pause falls also vary with the shorter and lighter as well as long or heavy breaks bringing out a different effect to the storyline of the poem. In his poem, Milton uses diction which is more of Latin. Some of the English words also have connotations which are Latin. The language and the words are carefully chosen. There are also English words which are pedantic and unfamiliar. The English and Latin words have both literal as well as symbolic meaning. Milton uses images and pictures to bright specific themes and changes tone with the change of setting and description.

In Paradise Lost, Milton uses a simple and familiar story of Adam and Eve to explain how the fall of man comes happened. The story focuses on sin and the implications of the sin. Through his theme of disobedience to God and its outcome, the reader can understand how people can easily fall into evil.


Martindale, C. (1986). John Milton and the transformation of ancient epic (p. 131). London: Croom Helm.

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