Milton's Paradise Lost - Political Satire? How does this help to understand the poem?
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Milton's Paradise Lost - Political Satire? How does this help to understand the poem? Milton takes the traditional epic and transforms it with the clarity of his moral vision and with the power of his language, turning it into piece of rich and powerful verse. In the early parts of "Paradise Lost", Milton manages to convey sympathy with Satan's heroic energy, with Satan's rebellion against Milton's god seen as an epic battle where the devil and his followers are banished to the external and horrid place of hell. Satan describes the "hell within him" wherever he goes and, yet as the epic narrative progresses, the allegiance subtly shifts to Christ's message of love and a vision of Paradise free of Satan's destructive force.
But on the common man, Milton exposes the very weakness about the fall of man, presenting how vulnerable man is to the temptation of sin. To some extent, Milton's characterisation of Satan justifies the ways of God to men. From Moloch's speech, he argues from the notion that the natural motion of angels is upward and that re-ascent will be easier than fall. As the devils have nothing to lose, they should not fear battle for if God destroys them, this will be better than a miserable existence in Hell. This use of false or hollow rhetoric perhaps gives some insight into Milton's views on the corruption or false credibility of politicians.
Paradise Lost is well known for its use of strong, visual symbology, clearly defining good and evil, Satan and God, and the battle of mankind, in all its weakness, against the temptation of sin. The lines between poetic myth and scientific belief become blurred, as Milton draws on his own personal experience and views. And there can be no doubt that Milton was strongly influenced by both the political and religious circumstances of the day. With a strong dislike for religious intolerance and a mistrust of politicians, during a period of long established religious satire, recognising these important background issues is key to developing an understanding of the poem as a whole.
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