16 Dec 2018

MA English Part.1,Classical Poetry,Paradise Lost as a Great Epic

MA English Part.1,Paper Classical Poetry,Paradise Lost as a great Epic


1.Examine Paradise Lost as a Renaissance epic?
2.Milton conceived and executed the scheme of Paradise Lost in accordance with the principles of classical epic. Discuss?
3.Write a note on “Paradise Lost” as an epic?
4.Milton settled in the form of an epic poem because, it must be conceded that he had not the knowledge of men necessary for a drama”. Elaborate?

An epic poem is usually a long narrative poem which deals with a subject  of great importance. When the writing was unusual, the epic poems were memorized to keep the record of some great heroic events. An epic is a long and dignified poem in which the hero is outstanding, setting is large, and actions revolve around a great deed and the involvement of supernatural elements like gods, deities and angels.

Milton s’ Paradise Lost is not an epic of a particular nation and culture but it is an epic of the whole human species. Milton s’ aim is to deal with the “Things unattempted yet in prose and rhyme”. It is an epic which deals with a universal theme, the theme of Adam fall from Heaven. The action and characters are universal. Paradise Lost has a wider scope and larger significance than either Iliad or the Aeneid because it deals with the whole human race and indicates the destiny of all humanity through the sin of the first man created by God.

As per C.M Bowra, “Milton has grafted his epic manner to a subject which lies outside main epic tradition”. When we read the opening twenty six lines of this epic, we see that Milton is following the tradition of classical epic in announcing his subject matter and invoking the Muse.

     “Of man s’ first disobedience, and the fruit,
      Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste,
      Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
      With loss of Eden, till one greater Man,
      Restore us, and regain the blissful seat.”

As regards the actions of this epic, there is a perfect unity of action in Paradise Lost. Theme is of great significance. The theme of Paradise Lost is, ‘Fall of Man’. Milton wishes to ‘justify the ways of God to men’. The plucking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge by Eve is the apex of the whole architecture of Paradise Lost

      “So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
       Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she ate.
       Earth felt the wound, and nature from her seat
      Sighing through her all works, gives signs of woe
      That all was lost….”

The war between God and Satan, followed by Satan s’ fall, is only a prelude to the main action. Defeated and punished Satan sought to take revenge on God by bringing about the fall of Man. The whole action of Paradise Lost is single and complete.

The characters of Paradise Lost are also true epic characters. Above all, the human interest in the poem, centers around the figure of Adam who is the central character of Paradise Lost. The epic, like the tragedy, is according to Aristotle, a story of human action. The last two lines of the poem, when Adam and Eve are departing from the Garden of Eden, are full of pathos and appeal to every human heart.

      “They hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
       Through Eden took their solitary way”.

An epic follows a grand style. Milton poetic style is unique and grand. Tennyson called Milton “mighty mouthed inventor of harmonies” and “God gifted organ voice of England”. An epic is a serious poem embodying sublime and noble thoughts. It is also not without a moral.

Coleridge commented on the universal appeal of Paradise Lost saying, “It represents the origin of evil and the combat of evil and good, it contains a matter of deep interest to all mankind, as forming the basis of all religion and the true occasion of all philosophy whatsoever”.

Another feature of epic is the frequency with which figures of speech are employed. Similes and metaphors are most common. There are several noble similes, metaphors and illusions in Paradise Lost.