Essays On Paradise Lost

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(A TV version produced by the British actor Martin Freeman is reportedly in the works, but if it ever gets made, don’t expect anything close to the original.

“ Paradise Lost is like a biblical Game of Thrones,” another of the producers has said.) The other reason is that Paradise Lost is an unabashedly religious work.

It seems fitting, too, that the final two books of the poem—11 and 12—address the future judgment and redemption.

The point of all this mirroring is to show how closely evil resembles good.

The first 10 books of the poem, as David Quint has observed, mirror each other in meaningful ways.

Beginning in medias res, shortly after God has cast Satan out of heaven, the poem follows the Devil’s “rise” as chief enemy of God in the first three books, culminating in his provocative offers to “save” his fellow demons, as well as his daughter, Sin, and his son, Death, by bringing destruction to God’s creation.

n 2016, during the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, the Bard was feted by dozens of books, hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, performances of his plays, lectures, and a Shakespeare Day gala attended by Prince Charles himself.

The London Tube map replaced the names of its stops with titles of Shakespeare’s plays. In 2017, it was all Jane Austen—the 200th anniversary of the novelist’s death. Last year also marked the 350th anniversary of the publication of Paradise Lost, the greatest epic poem in English and one of the greatest works of Western literature, and hardly a word was said about either the man or the work: just three books—William Poole’s Milton and the Making of Paradise Lost, John Carey’s The Essential Paradise Lost, and a collection of essays on the poet in translation—and a BBC Radio 4 documentary.

[Culture Club/Getty] Notwithstanding Milton’s famous promise in the opening section of the poem to “assert eternal providence / And justify the ways of God to men,” it is Satan’s poem from beginning to end.

He is the first character to speak, and he is eloquent, bold, full of feeling for others.


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