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Paradise Lost: Exploring a Passage in John Miltons

Paradise Lost,reaches out and pulls in references and allusions to other literary works, making it Miltons most influential piece of literary work. The writing echoes primary epic and the epics elevated language of describing people and events in great detail and in super realistic terms. Primary epic often uses nature as a simile, as with the line, Thick with autumnal leaves that strew the brook. (303). This line portrays an image of thousands of dead, brown, wet, and muddy leaves, which add more depth to the portrait of the fallen angels described in the passages from lines 299-313.

To assert this description further, Milton uses references to specific places to affirm and reinforce the grand stature of the characters to whom he is referring. For example, the demons are, High over-arched embower; or scattered sedge / Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion armed / Hath vexed the Red Sea coast,” (304-06). Orion armed is associated with seasonal storms and The Red Sea in Hebrew is called The sea of sedge. These two images when combined, add a fierce and grimy portrait of these fiends.

They seem to be hovering, and waiting for the right moment to generate chaos in the world G-d has thrown them down to. Milton has, in this passage, begun the process of characterization of these demons. He endows Satan with heroic qualities and his cohorts emerge as militant followers of a stately, yet ominous leader. Although Satan has heroic qualities and his angels are portrayed as evil warriors, Milton often has these rebellious angels remember what they have lost and given up. This helps to express the nature of their evil.

Each demon is aware of their condition and their transgression from Heaven to Hell and they are, Under amazement of their hideous change. (313). The main theme of the poem as a whole, is the examination of the origin of human Christian civilization, the emergence of evil, and how evil forces secure themselves into the world in the first place. The question of why G-d has allowed this evil to emerge and what is G-ds solution, is answered through Miltons similes and references to historical events.

For instance, Milton refers to the Biblical event of the Exodus, by describing how multitudes of fallen angels chased the Hebrew children through the Red Sea: The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld / From the safe shore their floating carcasses / And broken chariot wheels; (310-11). Besides the broken chariot wheels;(311) being another simile to the sheer quantity of the fallen angels, the reference to the event of the Passover suggests that, although G-d has allowed for a certain amount of evil to take place, in the end his omnipotence will ultimately divert Satan and the deception he has devised.

Although G-ds actions may seem unjust, He has made provisions for the evil through Christ. The passage within the poem reflects the evil nature of Satan, prior tohis plan to corrupt the innocence of Adam and Eve. To supplement this evil, Milton uses strong language such as vexed and fierce. He uses word combinations to describe the physical and the ethereal. For example, Perfidious hatred is used to describe the motivation behind the pursuit of the Hebrew children in the Exodus. By using strong language and similes to nature, Milton has established in his descriptions, an epic tradition.

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