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20091020-11 Paradise Lost, Books 1-4 (Group 1)

Page history last edited by cgrabem@... 11 years, 1 month ago



     Our class discussion began with how Paradise Lost is different from other works our class has read this year. This poem was originally written in English, and Milton's writing style is different from our other poets. He writes long sentences because he wants to draw sense out of the work. He also doesn't use rhyme because he didn't want to cut off his thoughts.  An important thing to remember is that Milton was blind while writing this poem, so every line was initially composed in his head. This explains why he refers to light in a divine sense so often, because he doesn't have light in his own life. Although Paradise Lost is different from our other works in class, Milton uses epic conventions including the invocation of a muse. We discussed how the muse in this poem is the same holy spirit who came to Moses, and is represented by a dove.  By using references to Mount Oreb, Mount Sinai and doves, Milton unites the Old and New Testaments. 

     Milton opens his poem by bringing up the two themes he will implement about throughout the poem: man's first disobedience and the justification of the ways of God to men.  Milton wants readers to have an understanding of commandments and punishments as well as explaining why God allows sin and death.  God gives man free will because he wants man to have the choice to love him--in order to tell if their love is real.

     Our last discussion compared the consequences of the two sinners, man and the devils. Unlike the devils, man receives grace because he was tempted by Lucifer to commit sin, while the devils went against God on their own. Man receives three punishments for eating the fruit off the tree of knowledge. The first punishment is death, the second is banishment from Eden, and the third is all of their sons are guilty of sin. Even though God could destroy the devils, he keeps them so they can test man by providing temptations.

Word Count- 332





"I made him just and right,

Sufficient to have stood though free to fall.

Such I created all th' ethereal pow'rs

And spirits, both them who stood and them who failed:

Freely they stood who stood and fell who fell.

Not free, what proof could they have giv'n sincere

Of true allegiance" (Book Three, lines 98-104) 


This passage is God speaking explaining why he let men have free will. He explains that men could either stand or fall but whichever they did it was their choice. If he didn't give man free will, then they wouldn't be able to prove that they really loved him


"they themselves ordained their Fall.

The first sort by their own suggestion fell

Self-tempted, self-depraved. Man falls deceived

By th' other first: Man therefore shall find grace,

the other none." (Book Three, lines 128-132)


This passage explains the difference between the devils and man. It explains that the devils fell by their own suggestion, and that man fell because the devils decieved them. For this man will find grace, and the devils won't.


"Got them new names, till wand'ring o'er the earth

Through God's high suff'rance, for the trial of Man" (Book One, lines 365-366)


Here is the explanation of why God keeps the devils. It is simply to provide trials for Man. This passage is an allegory because the trials are not just for Adam and Eve, but for all of mankind after them. It is teaching that if God's commandments are disobeyed, there will be punishment. 





  • Enjambment- the continuation of meaning, without pause or break, from one line of poetry to the next
  • Allegory- a work in which the characters and events are to be understood as representing other things and symbolically representing a deeper, often spiritual, moral, or political meaning
  • Grace - What Christ provides to people (in his self-sacrifice); it allows mankind to be saved from sin and everlasting damnation to hell. 

Comments (1)

Brian Croxall said

at 11:56 pm on Oct 23, 2009

This is a very good set of notes. You've written an effective summary; you've chosen good passages; and your definitions are on the ball. There are only three problems. In the first place, your summary is too long. The 300-word limit is a serious requirement, and you went over by more than 10%. Much of the first paragraph could have been eliminated, which would have freed you to spend time on other things. Your second problem is that I think more time could have been spent on both of the poem's themes: explaining what they are and how they differ from one another. You do a great job explaining the justification of God's ways to man in a passage, but the concept of man's first disobedience could have been limned out more clearly. The final problem is that I'm surprised you didn't discuss how Milton is relating his poem to the classical tradition in his invocation of the Muse. (And you can be sure that I'm aware of the irony that I'm telling you your summary is too long and that I want you to have written more.)

Still, these are great notes. If the summary had hit the right length, it probably would have been a perfect score.

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