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Blake: Milton was of the devils party without knowing it, Discuss.

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Introduction

Blake: "Milton was of the devil's party without knowing it" Discuss. There is a lot of evidence within "Paradise Lost" that would suggest this statement is true, however there is also a large amount that would disagree. Within these two books there is nothing that would give us an insight into the opinion or feelings of God so it is not as easy to make a balanced judgement than if the entire poem was called into question. However, there is a strong argument for both cases to be found in books I and II. With the protagonist of this section being Satan, it is undeniably his emotions are the ones the audience is exposed to. And as initial impressions are the ones that are most likely to stay with the reader, it is quite easy to become lost in the idea that Milton is "of the devils party". This is especially so when we consider the roles that Satan and God play within the text. Satan is to all intensive purposes, the 'tragic hero' (although it is possible that he is more of an anti-hero) ...read more.

Middle

Satan's representation of God as an evil character is very poignant to the reader, and there is reason to speculate that perhaps Milton truly believes that war on heaven was a "glorious enterprise". And this creates an idea that Satan's "courage never to submit or yield" is a noble feature that we expect to see in a champion of a people. It is undeniable that Satan is a brave angel; his journey to Earth would mean his having to cross Chaos which is described as "no narrow frith" and a "wild abyss" where there are "endless wards". Milton describes chaos without the normal iambic pentameter that he has used during the previous sections of the poem. When he breaks this pattern, it is for dramatic effect; for example in chaos the use of lines such as "Without dimension, where length, breath, and highth,/And time and place are lost" where he changes the stresses on syllables. The use of spondees create a completely unnatural way of speaking, with more than two or more sequentially stressed syllables. ...read more.

Conclusion

Milton has created a heroic notion from the rebellion in heaven. It brings the audience back to the "glorious enterprise" that came with deposing (or in the case of Satan, trying to depose) a dominant monarch who demanded subservient behaviour from his people. Satan's sentiments that it is "better to rule in hell than serve in heaven" would have been a view that much of the audience agreed with (in as far as the usurpation of monarchical rights are concerned). Was Milton of the devil's party? It is hard to say for certain however there is a significant amount of evidence in the first two books that would suggest he was. Or perhaps it was more that he was sympathetic to their cause, and the actions, right or wrong justified the ends. Milton's distortion of the classic moral roles caused the audience to think in an unconventional way for the period. It was a natural progression from being unordinary to being a heretic during this period. ?? ?? ?? ?? Lauren Hart 13A "Paradise Lost: Contemporary Critical Essays" William Zunder "OUP Paradise Lost Books I & II" - notes ...read more.

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