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A Critical Analysis of John Milton's Paradise Lost

Analysis and survey of the structure, organization and content of the epic written by John Milton entitled "Paradise Lost"

language english
wordcount 11797 (cca 33 pages)
contextual quality N/A
language level N/A
price free
sources 6
Table of contents

Title Page 1
Outline Contents 2
Introduction 3
The Work’s Historical Background 3
Milton’s Sources of the Paradise Lost 6
A Critical Survey of Paradise Lost 7
A Look Into the Structure of the Paradise Lost 20
Some Points of Consideration in Analyzing the Paradise Lost 22
Sources 26

Preview of the essay: A Critical Analysis of John Milton's Paradise Lost

Milton’s Paradise Lost has long been regarded as the great epic poem of the English language. It has had an immense influence on the writing of English poetry. The stature and influence of his work are no accident. Its author set out to write a poem that would rival the ancient epics of Homer and Virgil, adorn his native tongue, and be a work for future ages. This poem is not the product of youthful ardor, of a momentary burst of creative power, or of sudden “inspiration.” Paradise Lost is the work of decades---“long choosing, and beginning late”---and its author gave to it all that had he had and was.

John Milton was no ordinary man or writer. He was a man of great learning, intimate with ancient and modern literatures, versed in secular and sacred writings, erudite both in new sciences and in traditional religious learning. He was also an active participant in the religious and political struggles of his time, writing vigorous pamphlets in favor of popular rule and liberty in church and state. At that time he wrote this poem he was living in danger and disgrace, for the monarchical rule and the ecclesiastical government he had long fought had been restored to power.

It was this dark period---literally dark, ...

... emotional and psychological consequences of the new knowledge in Milton’s portrayal?

It can be remembered in Milton’s Areopagitica that he stated: “Good and evil we know in the field of this world grew up together almost inseparably….” Do you conclude from this passage that Milton did or did not believe that man could know good without knowing evil? Did he consider Adam’s virtue before the Fall “a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary”? What kind of knowledge of evil does he advocate in this passage---knowledge through seeing or knowledge through doing? If Adam had been tempted but had abstained, would he have attained the full human virtue Milton points to? Or is the journey through a world where moral choices loom at every turn necessary to achieve real human virtue?

Does Milton really consider the Fall a horrible doom, as he frequently says in Paradise Lost, or does he consider it a glorious opportunity for the moral education of man, for the perfection of man’s humanity? Is it Adam in Eden really perfect, virtuous, rational and free? Or must he attain these virtues through effort and experience in the everyday world.
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