Monday, March 31, 2014

Paradise Lost Notes

v     Paradise Lost is a biblical epic, written by John Milton (1608-1674).

v     At over 10,000 lines, it’s one of the longest poems in the English language, and is arranged into 12 books, like Virgil’s (the famous Roman poet) Aeneid.

v     It’s written in blank verse, meaning it doesn’t rhyme, but it still has a regular rhythm.

v     Paradise Lost tells the story of Adam & Eve, the Garden of Eden, and the fall of the angel Lucifer (Satan) in an epic war between heaven and hell.

Pandæmonium, the capital city of hell, by John Martin 

v     The purpose of the poem was to explain why God acts the way he does, to, “justify (oprávniť) the ways of God to men,” as Milton wrote in Book I. Throughout the poem, God explains to his son why he does what he does.

Jesus casting Satan into hell, by Gustave Dore

v     The story begins with the defeat (porážka) of Satan. Heaven and hell fight for three days, and at the end, Jesus himself defeats all the demons and banishes them to hell, called Tartarus. Satan then plans with his fellow demons, Mammon, Beelzebub, Belial, and Moloch, to travel through the Abyss up to the human world, to poison it.

Satan's Council, by John Martin

v     In the Garden of Eden, Adam & Eve live together. Though deeply in love, Adam is needy and always wants to be with Eve. She complains that she wants some time alone. While alone, Satan tempts (pokúša) Eve with an apple from the Tree of Knowledge. She takes it because of vanity (márnivosť). Adam then agrees to eat from the tree as well, so he and Eve can die together.

v     After eating from the tree, Adam & Eve lay together, and then have terrible nightmares. When they wake, they feel guilt and shame for the first time, and beg God’s forgiveness.

v     Adam and Eve are expelled (vyhnaní z raja) from the garden, but first the archangel Michael shows Adam a vision of human history, from the killing of his son Abel by Cain up to the Great Flood. He also tells about the coming of Jesus, and mankind’s possible redemption (vykúpenie).

v     In this poem, Milton argues against the building of temples and altars as idolatry (modlárstvo). He also felt the idea of a king having “divine right” was also idolatry.

v     Scholars note it’s funny that Milton would support the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War, while defending God’s monarchy in the poem. He wasn’t against a monarchy in general, but he objected to the current king Charles I. The writer C.S. Lewis explained, “Milton believed that God was his 'natural superior' and that Charles Stuart was not.”

v     Milton wrote a sequel to this poem titled Paradise Regained. Four books long, this mini-epic tells of the temptation of Jesus

Famous Quotes from the Poem:

Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven” – Satan

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.” - Satan

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