Essay Selections from Milton's Parradise Lost Wrote this a while ago. May still be helpful.

Essay by MahalingamVajpaiJunior High, 9th gradeA, February 2004

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Poetic Thesis - Milton

Two Passages from Paradise Lost

Before beginning my analysis of this sample of John Milton work, I am sure some

of you may find it interesting to note that before beginning his piece, Milton makes clear

his opposition to a poetic metre involving rhyme, this being the 'invention of a barbarous

age'. Instead he writes in what he terms English heroic verse, or iambic pentameter,

proposing to emulate the style of 'Homer in Greek or Virgil in Latin'. This poem - and

hence the two passages which I examine - were inspired by the Bible, the former on the

Book of Revelation and of various prophets and latter on that of Genesis and the Gospels.

Both of these passages, as knows almost anybody familiar with English literature, deal

with the conflicting nature of God's will with free will and ensuing disobedience, and seem

to be an attempt at setting up a groundwork for the English Church's views, which during

his lifetime were the subject not only of debate and question but of Civil Wars and


Book I, Lines ccxlii-cclxx

The first passage I chose perhaps for its position both as the vessel of perhaps

Milton's best known line in the wider public, 'Better to reign in Hell than serve in

Heaven,' and as perhaps the best framing for the dilemma of free will. In this first book,

we see Satan and his friends in Hell following their defeat, somewhat angry because they

realize now that they were fighting against an omnipotent foe all along. However, during

the course of a conference between Satan and his leftenant Beelzebub, Satan decides that

Hell may not be quite so terrible after all. Hey, he says. It's true we're outside his eternal

bliss membership club. But on the other...