Milton (1608-1674) and Paradise Lost (1667)



Stanley Fish on Paradise Lost:

“I would like to suggest something about Paradise Lost that is not new except for the literalness with which the point will be made: (1) the poem’s centre of reference is its reader who is also its subject; (2) Milton’s purpose is to educate the reader to an awareness of his position and responsibilities as a fallen man, and to a sense of the distance which separates him from the innocence once his; (3) Milton’s method is to re-create in the mind of the reader (which is, finally, the poem’s scene) the drama of the Fall, to make him fall again exactly as Adam did and with Adam’s troubled clarity, that is to say, ‘not deceived.’ In a limited sense few would deny the truth of my first two statements; Milton’s concern with the ethical imperatives of political and social behavior would hardly allow him to write an epic which did not attempt to give his audience a basis for moral action; but I do not think the third has been accepted in the way that I intend it. (Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967, 1997), page 1)”


Choose three passages, one from each of the sections below, and write about a page for each in which you explain the context of the passage and then analyze it and say why you think it is important.
1. Books 3-4
2. Book 5-8
3. Book 9-12

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