British Poetry And Drama Unit 1 Puritan Epic

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British Poetry And Drama Unit 1 Puritan Epic

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19. How does John Milton use polysyndeton in Paradise Lost (book 1 or 2)? 

Ans: Polysyndeton is a literary technique in which conjunctions—such as “and,” “but,” and “or”—are used in quick succession, often with no commas, when the conjunctions could just as easily be removed. 

The main effect of this technique is the generation of a certain tone, usually a very solemn one. Polysyndeton also emphasises the words that are being artificially joined together through conjunctions. So, for instance, I could say, “I enjoyed dinner; I ate the chicken, and the salad, and the rice, and the mashed potatoes, and the bread.” Normally, I wouldn’t need to use the conjunction “and,” but in polysyndeton I use it for emphasis to indicate how much food I ate. 

In book 1 of Paradise Lost, we find the following example of polysyndeton [emphasis added]: 

All is not lost; the unconquerable Will, 

And study of revenge, immortal hate, 

And courage never to submit or yield: 

And what is else not to be overcome? 

Though Satan has just been on the receiving end of a crushing defeat in the epic battle of Heaven, he is completely unrepentant. He’s absolutely determined to rise again and take what he believes is his rightful place among the angels once more. 

All the qualities he needs to make a comeback are listed in the above excerpt, joined together by the conjunction “and” instead of simply being listed as would normally be the case. This gives these qualities, which in this precise context are far from being noble, a certain dignity. Satan feels that he is the wronged party, and in this passage he is trying desperately to salvage some sense of pride from his recent defeat. Hence the use of polysyndeton, with its repetition of “and” reflecting Satan’s pompous, magisterial self-image. 

20. Discuss Milton’s conformity to conventional epic style with reference to Paradise Lost, book 1. 

Ans: In Book I of Paradise Lost Milton immediately conforms to the conventions of classical epic by invoking the muse, the traditional source of poetic inspiration in ancient times. As a scholar steeped in classical learning as well as a poet, Milton wants to establish his own epic as a continuation of a long-standing tradition, albeit with Christian rather than pagan elements. 

Milton emphasises this point by referring to the “Heav’nly Muse” which he urges to give him inspiration. This is not the same muse that inspires pagan poets such as Homer and Virgil. This is the muse that is very much a part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, which inspired Moses to receive the Ten Commandments and write the Book of Genesis. 

Milton states that his aim is to fly above the great poets of ancient times, whose inspiration came from the muses of Mount Helicon, or the “Aonian mount” as Milton calls it. In that sense, Milton is using the conventions of the ancient epic as a kind of springboard for the Christian epic he wants to write. On the one hand, he’ll stay close to the ancient epic in terms of form and elevated language. But in substance, he’ll depart radically from his ancient forebears in writing a true Christian epic that will attempt to justify the ways of God to man. 

21. Write a note on Satan’s role as leader in book 1 of Paradise Lost. 

Ans: Satan, according to Milton, is the greatest of the fallen angels and is therefore in the greatest pain but also shows the greatest resilience. He is the first to recover from the fall and the first to speak. Moreover, his words are full of a hope he does not feel, expressly to inspire and reassure his second-in-command, Beelzebub : 

What though the field be lost? 

All is not lost; the unconquerable Will, 

And study of revenge, immortal hate, 

And courage never to submit or yield: 

And what is else not to be overcome? 

With similar rhetoric and exhortation, he rouses all the fallen angels. When he calls them to arms, the immediate response of all the spirits (who are rebels and cannot agree on much) is confirmation that they all accept his leadership: 

He spake: and to confirm his words, out-flew 

Millions of flaming Swords, drawn from the thighs 

Of mighty Cherubim; the sudden blaze 

Far round hell … 

The fallen angels are inspired by Satan’s leadership, not only to declare war when they have only just been so comprehensively defeated but also to construct the mighty city of Pandaemonium for him to rule. They act together in this, though their many disagreements are soon to become evident in Book II of the poem. 

22. What are the epic conventions in book 1 of Paradise Lost? 

Ans: Milton engages the reader immediately with his purpose, just as Homer and Virgil do, as well as the “modern” Italian poets Ariosto and Tasso. In epic convention there is an announcement at the start that the poet “sings” his subject, though Milton makes the verb imperative in writing: 

Sing, Heavenly Muse 

The opening page of an epic is generally devoted to a kind of summary of the action and purpose of the work. Here Milton, though reproducing the manner of the classical poets, tells us what differentiates him from them. This is not to be a work about earthly battles and purely human conflict. There is a religious purpose too : 

. . . justify the ways of God to men. 

Milton also asserts that his poem will accomplish: 

Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme. 

Probably all of the epic poets have intended to do just that, though perhaps without proclaiming it so boldly. But after this brief introduction, Milton continues to follow the convention of a direct plunge into the action, which here is nothing less than the fall of Satan and his comrades into the infernal regions. 

Typical to epic poetry is the central subject of a huge battle or war, of course. In the Iliad, it’s the Trojan War; in the Aeneid, it is also the Trojan War (at its final moment as a prelude to Aeneas’s adventures that will lead to the birth of the Roman people). In Paradise Lost, it is the war between Satan against God. (and eventually, against man). 

Some would say the most decisive characteristic of an epic poem is the presentation of a hero: in the Iliad, it is Achilles; in the Odyssey, it is Odysseus; and so on. But in Milton’s. work, who is the hero ? The Romantic poets, who idolised Milton—but were themselves secular and irreligious—believed it was Satan. In a technical sense, Satan does appear to be the hero in the first two books of Paradise Lost. He is the centre of the action; he rallies his “men” around him, and he even has the qualities of determination and strength we associate with the heroic. It’s an enormous irony, of course, that Milton created such a character while putting forth what he intended as an ultimate message of religion and faith. 

23. Who is the hero in Milton’s Paradise Lost? 

Ans: This is a fascinating question to consider, because in many ways there is no one character who stands out clearly as a hero in this text. Rather, Milton seems to present Satan as a kind of anti-hero, who is the protagonist but who definitely does not display heroic qualities. This is something that critics have grappled with since Milton wrote this epic classic, because Milton ostensibly wrote an epic about God to justify God’s ways to man, yet in that epic he presents Satan in a very sympathetic light. This is partly because he resembles humans so much in his inconsistency and faults. Satan in many ways acts as a character who embodies the various failings of humans, and it is his frequent inconsistencies that cause the audience to recognise their own errors. It is much easier to relate to this all-too-human character than it is to relate to God or Jesus, who are, by their very definition, without sin. Note how Satan displays his error in the following speech he makes to Eve when he tries to tempt her : 

Look on me ! 

Me who have touched and tasted yet both live. 

And life is more perfect have attained than fate. 

Meant me, by venturing higher than my Lot. 

Of course, it is impossible to live a “more perfect” life than a life that is already perfect. Such inconsistencies reveal the illogical nature of Satan’s argument whilst also indicating the massive delusion pride causes on his way of viewing the world. Such failings cause him to be an immensely sympathetic character, whilst at the same time ensuring that the audience never loses focus on his evil nature and reprehensible actions. This epic does not therefore contain a hero, but an anti-hero in the form of Satan. 

24. Discuss Paradise Lost 1 as a epic poetry. 

Ans: Here is a list of the most common characteristics of an epic. Milton clearly follows the conventions of this form of literature. 

(i) Long narrative poem, usually written in blank verse. Paradise Lost certainly is a long story — not only a retelling of the Adam and Eve story, but establishing the back-story of Satan’s loss of heaven and his plans for revenge. It also has several sections of text discussing the future of man’s place in the world and a flash-forward of sorts of events up to the Christ’s coming into the world. The epic is written in blank verse which is unrhymed iambic pentameter. 

(ii) Starts “in medias res” which means “in the middle of the action.” While the epic is ultimately the story of Adam and Eve, it starts in the middle of Satan being thrown out of heaven along with his band of rebel angels. 

(iii) Starts with an address to a muse. In this Christian poem, the muse is not a traditional Greek deity, but the “Heavenly Muse.” 

(iv) Uses an elevated style. This long poem has very challenging language and the sheet number of allusions on the first page illustrate the difficulty and majesty of the subject matter that Milton is undertaking. He claims to be explaining “the ways of God to man.” To make such a claim requires the language and sophisti-cation to back it up. Another element of the elevated style is the use of epic similes — long, extended similes. An example from book 9 compares Satan’s movement as the snake in the garden to a ship that is being very carefully navigated through the water to reach its ulti-mate goal. 

(v) Tells the story of a cultural hero. While the story guts with Satan, the heroes of the story are Adam and Eve. Even though they have the tragic fall from grace and are banished from Paradise, it is through them and their actions and attitudes that man is to learn about God’s love. 

(vi) Reflects the society in which it was written. Milton is writing in a time of great change in the Chris-tian world. England has separated from the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant religion has taken a firm hold throughout Europe.. Book 12 in particular addresses some of the issues of the Christian church, but the ultimate message is that Christians live with God’s forgiveness and guidance through prayer. This clearly reflects Milton’s society in mid 1600’s. 

25. Write a note on the description of hell in Milton’s Paradise Lost. 

Ans: Milton’s Paradise Lost is filled with very imagery in all of its many,books, but Milton’s descriptions of hell are especially vivid, and keep in line with our general understanding of hell as being a place of fire and punishment.

In Book’ 1, Milton describes what happened to the fallen angels who dared to challenge God in Heaven. He states that the angels were all 

hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky / With hideous ruin and combustion down / To bottomless perdition, there to dwell I In adamantine chains and penal fire … his (Satan’s) horrid crew / Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf. 

This first description of hell is very clearly a place of terror and torment. The rebel Angels were thrown from the beautiful sky of heaven down to an unending hell of damnation. There they are suffering in the fires that they cannot escape from. 

From there, the descriptions goes on to reinforce the above mentioned description. Hell is described as a dismal situation waste and wild / A dungeon horrible, on all sides round / As one great furnace flamed, yet from those flames / No light but rather, darkness visible. 

This description is especially interesting in the final image. Normally we think of fire and picture the warm lighted glow that is emitted from the flames, but this fire is so intense and other-worldly no light comes forth. It is actually darker than seems possible. It is in incred-ibility frightening description. From there, the descrip-tion continues with interesting and powerful word choices and short phrases. There is a mention of the “fiery deluge” which suggests a flood of fire — a flood is usually thought to be overwhelming and unstoppable. When Beelzebub tries to rally the angels to be strong in the midst of this torture he acknowledges the “dreary plain” that is “forlorn and wild.” He calls it a “seat of desolation” and describes the flames as “livid.” That is an interesting word choice because the reader might expect “vivid” meaning bright and lively, but he uses “livid” to draw the connotation of anger and power. Even though this hell is an awful and frightening place, Satan wants his followers to “toss off the fiery waves” and overcome this “dire calamity.” He rallies the other angels to try to rise from the fiery pit they are in and to embrace the idea that even though they are damned.

The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a Heaven of Hell, or a Hell of Heaven. 

The angels may be eternally in this place, but they can still have great influence in the world. They can embrace the idea that they are “in charge” of hell and no longer have God in charge of them. The rest of Paradise Lost is about how Satan sets about to get his revenge on God. As we know from the Bible, he sees his opportunity in the characters of Adam and Eve in God’s Garden of Eden. As they are brought down by sin, so is all of humanity. 

26. How is Milton’s so-called “grand style” significant in Paradise Lost? 

Ans: The so-called “grand” or lofty style of Milton’s Paradise Lost is significant to the poem in numerous ways, chiefly because it struck Milton as by far the style most appropriate to the lofty subject matter he had chosen for his poem. Rather than choosing a “low” (that is, a common or colloquial) style or the kind of “middle” style used in much conventional poetry, Milton chose an elevated style because it seemed the only style that could do justice to the important matters he meant to discuss and depict. 

Several elements of Milton’s “grand style” might be listed as follows: 

: a tendency to use long and complex sentences 

: a tendency to employ learned allusions, especially to the Bible and to the Greek and Roman classics 

: a relative absence of obvious humour, especially any crude humour 

: a tendency to choose unusual words in place of simple, common words 

: a tendency to construct sentences in ways that resemble sentence structures often found in Latin 

: a general (but not total) tendency to avoid crude-ness of any kind, especially sexual crudity 

: a tendency to display the learning of the poet and to expect similar learning in the poem’s readers 

Many aspects of this “grand style” that illustrate its significance can be seen at the very beginning of Book 3, when Milton invokes divine inspiration by addressing a hymn to “holy Light” (1). Here Light is personified, so that it seems more than a mere physical fact but instead seems something living, even divine, and thus deserving of the dignity of the so-called “grand style.” Another example of the “grand style” in this passage appears in line 6, when Milton uses numerous words of Latin origin to describe Light as a “Bright effluence of bright essence increate” (6). This is not simple, plain, unadorned, Anglo-Saxon phrasing; rather, it is the kind of lofty phrasing Milton considered appropriate to his highly important topics. Milton can write very simple English, as when he refers to “The rising world of waters dark and deep” (3.11), but even here there is a touch of Latin sentence structure, since the adjectives follow the noun rather than preceding it. 

A different kind of writer, with different purposes, would have written, “The Almighty power hurled him . .” Milton, however, makes his phrasing sound like a grand or elevated kind of English by using this kind of “Latinate” sentence structure. 

A tendency to make learned allusions, as in the reference to “the Aonian mount” in line 15. Instead of referring openly to “Helicon,” a name with which many more readers would have been familiar, Milton chooses to refer to “th’ Aonian mount,” partly to display his own learning, partly to test, challenge, and stimulate the learning of his readers, and partly to make the phrasing unusual or above the ordinary. 

27. What are some examples of the “grand style” Milton uses in Paradise Lost, particularly from Book I? 

Ans: The so-called “grand style” of John Milton’s epic poem is the lofty, elevated, or non-colloquial phrasing he uses to add to the dignity of the poem and imply the importance of its subject matter. Milton deliberately chose this style to fit the grand or lofty topic he had chosen for his epic — nothing less than the fall of man and the justice of God’s response to that fall. A more colloquial or “everyday” style of language would not have seemed appropriate to such an inherently important plot and theme. 

Several elements help contribute to the “grand style” in which Paradise Lost is written. They include the following: 

: A tendency to write in long, often complicated sentences, so that readers cannot simply breeze through the poem but must ponder it carefully. A good example of such a sentence is the very first sentence of the poem, which goes on for 16 lines before the first period finally appears. Although the structure of this sentence is not especially difficult to follow, neither can that structure be called easy or instantly accessible. Milton’s sentences often flow on and on, adding a kind of majesty to the phrasing of the work. 

: A tendency to allude, either overtly or indirectly, to the Bible and to classical literature. Since the Christian Bible and the Greek and Roman classics were among the most important texts of Milton’s culture, his habitual allusions to them instantly elevate the tone of his phrasing. 

: A tendency to use a kind of sentence structure more common in Latin than in simple Anglo-Saxon English. For instance, in the first sentence of Paradise Lost, the very first verb does not appear until line 6. Instead of beginning the poem by writing, “Sing, Heav’nly Muse, of man’s first disobedience,” Milton does not provide the crucial verb “Sing” until line six. This postponement of the verb creates a kind of suspense, as we wonder what verb will make sense of the first five lines. Another superb example of Milton’s use of “Latinate” syntax, or sentence structure, occurs, in lines 44-45, where Milton, speaking of Satan says, 

Him the Almighty Power 

Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky. 

An example of the “grand style” at the beginning of Book 3 involves Milton’s reference to Hell as the “Stygian pool” (14). Rather than simply referring to “Hell” or even to “Hades,” Milton offers a classical allusion to enhance the grandeur and resonance of his language. Another classical allusion appears two lines later, in the reference to “th’ Orphean lyre” (17). This tendency to discuss Christian ideas by alluding to classical precedents is typical of the entire poem. Milton was steeped in the Bible, but he was also thoroughly familiar with the Greek and Latin classics and used his classical learning to enhance the richness of his style. Thus in one line he refers to the classical “Muses” (27), and then three lines later he refers to Biblical “Sion” (30). This constant interplay of the classical and the Christian is one of the main features of Milton’s “grand style.” 

28. Why have Satan and his followers been cast out of heaven in Paradise Lost? 

Ans: There is much speculation about who Satan is and why he was cast out of heaven. Answers vary from very simple to extremely complex, but the most important aspect of the entire issue has to do with sin. Most of the answers have to do with pride and wanting to be equal to God. He was an angel who grew jealous. 

Satan or Lucifer created sin. God is incapable of being around sin because he is complete perfection. Thus, Satan had to go. It is really difficult to grasp concepts of religion truthfully and accurately because so much is based on faith. Fortunately, major religions have documents that have stood the test of time to prove their beliefs. The bible is your best resource for the answers to your questions. 

The site cites the bible in many places. I recommend you click on the link, check out some of the references and read the context around them for a full understanding. 

29. Analyse the character of Satan as he has been sketched in Book I of Milton’s Paradise Lost. 

Ans: Satan is a complex and intricate character around whom much controversy centres. Milton begins Book I of Paradise Lost by presenting Satan as he would have been moments after his expulsion from Heaven, where he was the chief angel with the highest honors and most exquisite beauty. His angelic qualities of ministering and compassion would still be intact and at the height of their strength: angels would retain their essential traits even after rebelling and being cast out of Heaven as punishment. 

In shape and gesture proudly eminent [ 590 ]

Stood like a Tower; his form had yet not lost 

All her Original brightness, nor appearld 

Less then Arch Angel ruined, and th’ excess 

Of Glory obscured : 

As a result, one of the first things evident about Satan is his regret, sorrow, and compassion for the suffering of his followers (605-612). Satan weeps. He is unable to speak for the depth of his emotion at the changed condition he sees before him in the appearance of the other angels. Satan shows compassion and empathetic suffering (615-621). 

On the other hand, in Book I Satan also makes it clear that his war against God will rage on and that he will ultimately attain revenge against God. Satan’s hatred, arrogance, violent nature, pride, and vengefulness are clearly displayed. 

but of this be sure, 

To do ought good never will be our task, 

But ever to do ill our sole delight, [ 160 ] 

These two sides of Satan demonstrate what he was and might have continued to be and foretell what he will become later in Paradise Lost. Book I is a snapshot, if you will, of Satan during his first moments of separation from God’s grace and presence. 

The controversy around Satan arises because of all the good and, therefore, sympathetic qualities Satan possesses during this snapshot moment. Some critics contend Satan’s good qualities indicate that Milton was fashioning him as the hero of the epic poem because only heroes, even Byronic heroes, are introduced in such a positive and sympathetic light. In this opinion, the Book I presentation of Satan isn’t a snapshot of an interim position, it is the representation of the inner truth of the character of Satan. Other critics contend Milton begins with a justifiably authentic picture of Satan so that his fall into degeneration can be tracked and eschewed, or shunned, because of the revulsion Satan’s fall must engender. 

30. Analyse and discuss lines 120-160 of Book 1 (given in the image) of Paradise Lost by John Milton. 

Ans: Any analysis of lines 120- 160 in Book I Paradise Lost has to centre on the basic discussion between Satan and Beelzebub. I think that one of the most significant aspects of this in lines 120- 160 is the extent of their relationship. It is evident that both of them form the structure of a leader and one who would serve them. It is almost akin to how Regina George, the “queen bee” in Mean Girls is followed by Gretchen Wieners, her second in command. Milton displays such a relationship in the manner of speech between both. Line 120 starts the defiant stance that Satan will demonstrate both throughout the excerpt and in the epic poem : 

We may with more successful hope resolve [ 120 ] 

To wage by force or guile eternal Warr 

Irreconcilable, to our grand Foe, 

Who now triumphs, and in th’ excess of joy 

Sole reigning holds the Tyranny of Heav’n. 

The idea of “eternal Warr” reflects a distinct possibility of loss and defeat. However, Satan’s confidence is his own notion of self help to defer this reality. In speaking to his lieutenant about the need to challenge he who represents “the Tyranny of Heav’n,” a distinct part of the relationship between both figures is revealed. 

This relationship is enhanced in Beelzebub’s response. Beelzebub demonstrates his role as “Compeer” in suggesting that there might be an alternate narrative to be embraced. He suggests this in specific lines and images, such as “Too well I see and rue the dire event,/ That with sad overthrow and foul defeat” and “But what if he our Conquerour, (whom I now/ 

Of force believe Almighty, since no less/ Then such could have overpowered such force as ours).” These help to bring out the full extent of the relationship between both angels. This becomes one of the most important realities when analysing lines 120- 160 in Book I. Beelzebub has less confidence, and is less demonstrative about his service of the end goal towards which Satan has no reticence. Satan is shown as the “King Bee” while Beelzebub is more of the serving second in command. 

Milton makes clear that this relationship is a doomed one in how Satan responds to the potential alternative that Beelzebub proposes. Satan is committed in what he believes and in his mission against the almighty. Beelzebub does not break from him. The chains that bind both of them to the inferno outside of Heaven also tethers them to a life where there will be no spiritual redemption. It is Milton’s insight to suggest that the associations we form and the connections we have with other people can play critical role in our moral ascendance or degradation. Through the depiction of the relationship between both angles in lines 120- 160 in Book I, Milton suggests that hell might just be “other people.” This becomes one of the critical points of analysis in this section of the work. 

31. Is there a significance in the way Beelzebub and Satan refer to God in Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book 1 ? 

Ans: There is an interesting difference between the way in which Satan refers to God and the way in which Beelzebub, his second-in-command, refers to God. Let us look at the beginning of their conversation to show this. Satan opens referring to God as “the potent Victor in his rage” and then only goes on to refer to him as “him,” refusing to name him or give him the respect that it his due. Note the following example : 

To bow and sue for grace 

With suppliant knee, and deify his power 

Who from the terror of this arm so late 

Doubted his empire, that were low indeed… 

It is as if Satan continues in his rejection of God after the failure of his rebellion. He refuses to acknowledge the power and authority that God has and has amply demonstrated through his victory over Satan. 

However, by contrast, Beelzebub clearly seems to recognise the authority of God, as he refers to God as being “Heaven’s perpetual King” and tells his “Prince” that God has shown himself to be supreme through his victory : 

But what if he our Conqueror, (whom I now Of force believe Almighty, since no less Than such could have overpow red such force as ours)… 

Beelzebub clearly regards God in a different way, that reflects his understanding of his new position and the way in which he and his fellow angels were vanquished by God’s angels. 

32. What are the differences and similarities between Satan and Beelzebub in Paradise Lost? 

Ans: Satan and Beelzebub are alike in both being evil and opposed to God. They both want to continue the fight against him, and both are underhanded and fiendish. 

A main difference, however, is that while Satan is so proud that he will bow to nobody, Beelzebub, at least around Satan, is a sycophant and toady who kisses Satan’s butt. For example, as they both come to life (the first two to do so) in the “mournful gloom” of hell, Satan springs up, assesses their horrible surroundings, and almost immediately decides it is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven. Among his first thoughts emerges the idea that wherever he lands, he will be in charge. It doesn’t matter much to Satan that he is in hell as long as he can rule in hell. 

Beelzebub, on the other hand, immediately begins flattering and fawning on Satan, saying to him of his fallen fellow angels in the fiery lake that when they see Satan : 

[T] hey will soon resume 

New courage and revive, though now they lye 

Grovelling and prostrate on yon Lake of Fire 

Beelzebub is happy to be second to the archfiend, but Satan must be in charge. 

33. The greatness of Paradise Lost lies in Milton’s elevated and grand style. Illustrate from Book One. 

Ans: Milton had soaring ambitions for Paradise Lost. He hoped to create an epic that would stand alongside the works of Homer, Vergil, and Dante, and that would be unparalleled in the English language. The theme he chose is a lofty one, and the language that he used is tailored to the subject matter, as he demonstrates in the beginning of Book One: 

Sing Heav’nly Muse, that on the secret top 

Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire 

That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed, 

In the. Beginning how the Heav’ns and Earth 

Rose out of Chaos…I thence 

Invoke thy aid to my adventurous Song; 

That with no middle flight intends to soar 

Above th’ Aonian Mount while it pursues 

Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime. 

This excerpt is a deliberate nod to Homer, who also included evocations of Muses. It also expresses his ambition to write of “Things unattempted,” i.e., to “justify the ways of God to men.” He continues to employ grand, sweeping language as he describes the titanic struggle between God and Lucifer, one which left the rebellious angel cast down 

With hideous mine and combustion down 

To bottomless perdition, there to dwell’ 

In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire, 

Who durst defy the’ Omnipotent to Arms. 

It is, perhaps, precisely this majestic language that makes Paradise Lost such a challenge to modern readers, but it is also suited to the epic themes of combat between God and Lucifer, one in which man is swept up. It is fundamentally a struggle between good and evil, and Milton wants to show both the majesty of the former and the power of the latter. His success in doing so, and in reimagining a foundational story in Christian tradition in epic terms, owes much to his elevated style. 

34. In what ways does Milton’s narrative voice undercut Satan’s heroism in Books I and II of Paradise Lost? 

Ans: While it is easy to view Satan as a type of epic hero in the first books of Paradise Lost, Milton does include descriptions to portray Satan as other than a victim when it comes to his fate in Hell. For example, Milton creates a Satan who is beautiful and immense. Readers have a difficult time admiring or pitying some-one who is Satan’s size and who apparently had as many admirable characteristics as he does in the poem. 

Similarly, Milton includes Beelzebub as a sounding board for Satan’s diatribes. Beelzebub reminds the reader that Satan wasn’t sentenced alone; and even though Satan might believe that it is “better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven,” unlike a hero, he makes that decision selfishly–not heroically–for no one else but himself. 

35. Does Satan say he is unhappy in hell because he is still ruled by God ? In Book 1 

Ans: No, quite the contrary. Satan claims he is content in hell. Yes, he admits an initial despair, but then convinces the others to look for the positive aspects of their situation. He vows to find a sort of “happiness” by waging an eternal war with God and changing all good things to evil. 

He says that even though hell is not pleasant like heaven, at least he is no longer under God’s rule. His exact words are, “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.” He encourages the fallen angels to construct a beautiful building (Pandemonium) in which to live and to make the best of what they now have. The fallen angels construct Pandemonium, but it is too small, so they have to shrink themselves to fit into it. 

36. What is a good assessment of Book I of Paradise Lost? 

Ans: This is a fascinating debate that has caused debate since its publication about how precisely readers are supposed to assess it and what meanings they are to take from it. On the one hand, it is possible to argue that Book I, because it begins just after Satan’s failed revolt and when he and his minions have been cast down into hell, presents Satan as a character whose arrogance and self-belief is so exalted that he immediately thinks of revenge and is unable to accept that victory is something that will continually elude him. Note for example how he looks at his angels and thinks that they are so powerful they will eventually defeat God and his forces of good angels: 

For who can yet believe, though After loss, 

That all these puissant legions whose exile 

Hath emptied Heav’n shall fail to re-ascend, 

Self-raised, and repossess their native seat? 

Arrogance and distorted vision characterise him, thus showing the portrayal of Satan as an evil character who demonstrates the consequences of sinning against god through trying to be more than he actually was. Note how Satan views his army as “puissant” or powerful, even though they have just been defeated. He also exaggerates with the phrase “Hath emptied Heav’n,” whereas in fact we find out later his troops only number a third of the angels in heaven. Conventional assessments of Book I present Satan as an evil character who has received exactly what he deserved through his sin. 

However, at the same time, other critics have argued that Satan strikes the reader as an intensely charismatic and appealing character, in spite of all of his faults. Some indeed argue that Satan is the much more appealing character compared to God, who is frankly a bit boring in this epic text. A quote that many use to indicate Satan’s appeal is how he determines to accept his new position and use it to possess the power he was unable to seize up in heaven: 

Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n. 

So power-hungry is he that he is willing to settle for life in hell, where he can rule, than return to heaven, where he would have to serve. Such an assessment of Book I therefore focuses on the way in which Milton began his epic not with God or Jesus, but Satan, and how he presented him as an appealing character whose powers of seduction win over the reader in spite of him or herself. 

37. What is radical about the prefatory matter and Book 1 of Paradise Lost? 

Ans: What is so radical about the opening of this epic classic is the way in which Milton both follows in the footsteps of other epic authors such as Homer and Virgil but also distinguishes himself from their work. This is seen most clearly in the way that Milton invokes the Holy Spirit as a muse rather than one of the traditional nine muses. Invoking the help of a muse is a sign that Milton places his work well and truly in the same ilk as the work of Homer and Virgil and others. However, at the same time he distinguishes his work from their epics by signifying that he is appealing to the divine spirit, the inspiration for the Bible and the spirit responsible for the creation of all things. Note how he does this in the opening lines of this poem : 

And chiefly thou, 0 Spirit, that dost prefer, 

Before all temples the upright heart and pure, I

nstruct me, for thou know’st; thou from the first 

Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread 

Dovelike sam’s brooding on the vast abyss, 

And mad’st it pregnant: what in me is dark 

Illumine; what is low, raise and support; 

That to the height of this great argument 

I may assert Eternal Providence, 

And justify the ways of God to men. 

Milton therefore radically shows a very different ambition for his work. He aims to deal with matters that ao to the very heart of what it is to be human and to also become a cipher of God’s will towards mankind. At the same time, Milton also expresses his own utter dependence on God and his need for God’s help. Milton therefore begins his poem with a curious mix of both ambition and humility, recognising how his poem fits in to the work of his literary predecessors whilst at the same time stating how he hopes to create a work that surpasses their efforts in its scope. 

38. What is the purpose of Book One: Invocation from Paradise Lost? 

Ans: The purpose of Book 1 was to outline the chain of events that led not only to the fall of man but also that of Satan. Satan’s pride made the angel to lead a rebellion against God. Satan was jealous of the Son and God’s favour upon him. Satan marshalled other rebellious angels and waged war in Heaven. The conflict forced God to involve the Son in order to end it. The Son goes to battle and defeats Satan and his followers and casts them into the deep fiery pits of Hell. 

Satan and his followers, feeling dejected, plot to rise against God’s throne. Satan remembers prophesy about the new existence of God’s creation known as man. He informs the other cast out angels of his plan to find man so he can turn the race from God as an affront to the Most High. Satan employs mischief against Uriel to find out where man lives and pursues them in the Garden of Eden. God on the other hand employs Raphael to warn Adam of the impending danger due to the fall of Satan. Book 1 provides the basis and motivations of Satan’s conflict with God and the continuation of this conflict through man and the opportunity for man’s redemption. 

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