Paradise Lost: One of the Greatest Literary Works

Paul Gustave Doré, wood engraving, 1866.

For its majestic verse, supernatural elements, and use of in medias res, among other masterful elements, John Milton’s 1667 epic poem Paradise Lost is one of the greatest works of literature ever written.

First, Milton achieved a majestic feeling in Paradise Lost’s poetry partly through his employment of excellently rendered blank verse. Each line adds to the feeling of a story that is enormously larger than the reader. For example, Milton describes God’s casting Satan from Heaven with the magnificent words, “Him the Almighty Power / Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky, / With hideous ruin and combustion, down / To bottomless perdition” (lines 44 – 47).

Second, the supernatural elements imbue the work with an atmosphere of both amazement and horror. On one hand, Milton amazes the reader with his descriptions. A prime example is that of Adam and Eve, “Not Spirits, yet to Heavenly Spirits bright / Little inferior–whom my thoughts pursue / With wonder” (lines 334 -336). On the other hand, he horrifies with his details of things like hell. For example, “As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames / No light; but rather darkness visible / Served onely to discover sights of woe” (lines 62 – 64).

Third, the reader is impressed with the grandeur of the story when Milton drops him into the story in media res, right into the action. The first thing the reader sees in the story of this epic poem is Satan, who “with his horrid crew, / Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf, / Confounded, though immortal” (lines 51 – 53).

So Milton captures, still to this day, the literary world’s attention and enjoyment in Paradise Lost through his verse, supernatural elements, and use of in media res. Paradise Lost is truly one of the greatest literary works ever written, in any language.

One thought on “Paradise Lost: One of the Greatest Literary Works

  1. Pingback: 2 Weeks of Brief Literary Thoughts – The Flummoxed

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