• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Does Milton attempt to describe the indescribable? To what extent does he succeed?

Extracts from this document...


Does Milton attempt to describe the indescribable? To what extent does he succeed? Milton uses numerous literary devices in his attempt to describe the apparantly undescribable in Paradise Lost. The beginning of Paradise Lost is similar in gravity and seriousness to the book from which Milton takes much of his story: the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. This can be construed by the reader to be almost a statement of intent from Milton, who it appears is likening Paradise Lost to the Holy Bible. He seemingly seeks to elevate himself above other epics as he attempts to 'assert eternal providence, and justify the ways of God to men.' From the very outset, this appears to be a rather fanciful and audacious task, and it is dubious as to whether any mortal is able to justify such a thing. The first two sentences, or twenty-six lines, of Paradise Lost are extremely compressed, containing a great deal of information about Milton's reasons for writing his epic, his subject matter, and his attitudes toward his subject. ...read more.


Then, at greater length, he compares Satan to a Leviathan, or giant sea creature, so huge that sailors mistake it for an island and fix their anchor to it. In other epics, these sorts of similes establish the great size or strength of characters, and on the surface these similes seem to do the same thing. At the same time, however, these similes have an unsettling effect, for they remind us that we really do not know Satan's true size. No one knows how big the mythical Titans were, because they were defeated before the age of man. The image of a Leviathan confuses, too, for the Leviathan's size generates deception and confusion. Whatever Satan's true size, he is never again likened to such enormous objects. He assumes many shapes, and Milton compares him to numerous creatures, but the size of these creatures steadily diminishes, reflecting the steady diminishment of Satan's moral stature. The similes used to describe Satan also make us aware that we do not know the size of anything in Hell-not the burning lake, the hill, Pandemonium, or the fallen angels themselves. ...read more.


Milton refers to numerous exotic and remote places for the reader, such as 'Abarim' and 'Hesebon', and this contributes to the remote and distant picture of hell that he seeks to paint. The poem's realism is that of a myth, and its credibility dependent on the outlines of Christian belief, rather than specific historical details. The entire concern or major theme of Paradise Lost is to refute predestination and justify the freedom of will. However Satan is portrayed as an almost romantic, recognizable character with whom we have shared every twist and turn his thinking takes throughout his physical and mental journey thus far. Satan can easily be perceived as the bold colonist, not lacking the courage of his convictions, be it at the expense of being exiled from the realms of heaven. With the strength of classical precedents, the introduction to Paradise Lost refracts a seemingly incomprehensible description of fantastic proportions, utilising allusive language, epic similies, literary devices such as paradox, emotive language and vivid descriptions to apparantly describe the indescribable, be it the message of god, or the extent of torment in the vaults of hell. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Milton section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Milton essays

  1. By means of what textual strategies does Milton seek to 'justify the ways of ...

    the Holy Spirit whom he asks for guidance in his epic task. If the ways of God can be justified to man it must be through a cleansing of the heart rather than by the reasoning of the intellect. With regard to Milton's style in the opening passage, it is simply divided into two sections.

  2. In order to be able to discover the relevance Milton and Paradise Lost still ...

    savages "most English colonialists on the edge of the civil world lived in fear of becoming." (p.93) this relates to the theme carried out throughout Paradise Lost, where God is continuously warning Adam and Eve not to disobey Him and eat from the forbidden tree.

  1. The Dualistic Genesis of Paradise Lost

    and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious .

  2. 'Paradise Lost' - "Our Flesh is An Eve Within Us"[1]- The Presentation of Eve ...

    But other doubt possesses me, lest harm Befall thee severed from me;... ...leave not the faithful side That gave thee being... Who guards her, or with her the worst endures." ( IX: 229-269) 25 A skilled rhetorician, Adam tries to the best of his ability to dissuade her from her decision to divide their labours, but to no avail.

  1. How far do you agree with this judgment on Milton's handling of Satan in ...

    His magnificence is still apparent as he is depicted as "Archangel ruined". His sheer size, "many a rood, in bulk as huge/As whom fables name of monstrous size", is symbolic of his prowess.

  2. Is Milton's Satan rightly regarded as a tragic hero?

    his physical self to the torments of Hell, whilst making 'a Heaven of Hell' with his spiritual being. In his speech to the fallen legion Satan inspires them to share in his hope. His speech is beautifully constructed and he has a majestic, reverential power over his audience.

  1. Show how Ngugi uses his narrative to contrast the inner emotional qualities in his ...

    Wambuku's misunderstanding concerning the promise that Kihika made to her further highlights her feelings of betrayal since Kihika promised that he would be by her side, however spiritually and not physically. Since one of the elements to the novel is betrayal, through the girls' separate contrasting delusions Ngugi reveals the heartache that took place and the feelings of disloyalty.

  2. How does Gaskell use setting and location to reveal the character of her heroine, ...

    It is shown to be a warm and affectionate household with her "gentle aunt and dear cousin", but Margaret's position within it was that of 'poor cousin' and companion to Edith. Margaret's proud character and regard for social stature is clear from her eager "delight of filling the important post of only daughter in Helstone parsonage".

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work