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История литературы / 17. Paradise Lost

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John Milton was an English poet & political writer. Shakespeare died at 52 & Milton at this age was reborn as a poet. Long time he tried to write a play. (theatre was popular) He wanted to write a play about the nature of original sin. As a Renaissance man, he wanted to investigate the issue,to prove that Adam and Eve had no choice. For 10 more years he dictated his works to daughters. Paradise Lost (1667) is the culmination of his life's work. It took place between the Restoration period and The Great plague. His early poems, the exquisite "L'Allegro," "Il Penseroso," "Lycidas," and the sonnets would all secure him a place among the finest English poets. But it is Paradise Lost which makes it impossible for you to ignore Milton. He wrote Paradise Regained afterward, but it has nothing like the stature of Paradise Lost. Milton's final work, Samson Agonistes, is a Greek drama as impressive as Paradise Lost in everything except size. Paradise Lost has retained its interest because it deals with subjects that will always concern us-good, evil, freedom, responsibility. In 1637 when Milton was in Italy he had the idea of a great national epic. Then he changed his mind & started planning a great biblical play. Circumstances did not allow Milton to carry out his plan – he decided to frame his poem on epic lines again. At first Milton did not want to give such a prominence to the rebellion of Satan, to cosmic & demonic interests. “Paradise lost” was based on holy scripts, written in blank verse & is considered to be the 1st considerable example of that kind of literature. “Paradise lost” is divided into 12 books. The meter of Paradise Lost is iambic pentameter, the meter in which Shakespeare wrote his plays. It is often called "blank verse" because it doesn't rhyme. Each line consists of five heavy stresses and five minor 2stresses. Paradise Lost follows the epic tradition in not telling the story chronologically. Instead it begins at midpoint and tells the rest in flashbacks (and flash-forwards). With the greatest dignity of thought & language it expresses the circumstances of the fall of the man. With these lines, Milton begins Paradise Lost and lays the groundwork for his project, presenting his purpose, subject, aspirations, and need for heavenly guidance. He states that his subject will be the disobedience of Adam and Eve, whose sin allows death and pain into the world. He invokes his muse, whom he identifies as the Holy Spirit. He asserts his hopes that his epic poem will surpass the other great epic poems written before, as he claims that his story is the most original and the most virtuous. He also asks his muse to fill his mind with divine knowledge so that he can share this knowledge with his readers. 1st 2 books - a gigantic introduction, are the richest part in the literary sense. The Heaven as Milton describes - gallery of pure theological reason. It’s cold, absolutely detached from any representation of life . God has three aspects, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As creator, God the Father sets everything going, like a clock, so that he knows what is to happen but does not interfere with the running of it. In Heaven he is surrounded by angels ("angel" from Greek "messenger"). When he decides to announce the equal status with himself of his Son, one-third of the angels rebel under the leadership of Lucifer, who becomes Satan. A terrible three-day War in Heaven ends in the defeat of Satan by the Son, who drives all the rebel angels down to Hell. God through his Son creates the World, and he puts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Paradise. Like the angels, they have free will. They live in pleasure, with frequent visits from the angels, but they must not touch two trees in the garden, the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. The pivotal idea-obedience VS disobedience. The idea of forbidden knowledge was interesting for Milton. Knowledge=strength, and it is painful. Satan wants revenge on God for his defeat, so he tempts Eve to eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. She in turn tempts her husband, Adam. This is the original sin from which all mankind's troubles flow. The life of pleasure is over: man must work and woman must suffer childbirth pains. The two are driven from Paradise to make their home in the rest of the World, comforted by the knowledge that the Son will become man in a later generation and will die for their sins. The description of the Pandemonium is the most important place of the book. Milton’s description of battles between the angels, the forces of God & the followers of Satan reminds the earthly battles & even is affected by the military costume of the 17th century. Milton himself was a combination of a person, who adhered to the principles of renaissance & his idea of freedom as such was very much alike those of great scholars of renaissance. But on the other hand he was a puritan, a man, who was to impose certain restrictions on the freedom of human being. Milton gives the state of Adam & Eve after their extension. He shows that though they realize their sin & take their fate with dignity. Milton makes us believe that Adam represents the whole mankind & he stands for a series of Falls: 1st – his own Fall as an individual; 2nd – he’s responsible for those who come after. Adam stands for Milton’s own ideas of puritan fall. The epic reveals the contradiction that tortures the author: dissatisfaction with God’s law vs. importance of obedience to God - M presents us 2 moral paths after the Fall: like Satan = to insist on disobedience&degradation and like Adam = to repent and redeem.God the Son has an important function in Paradise Lost as the exact opposite of Satan. He is put into parallel situations to demonstrate right behavior when Satan demonstrates what is wrong. .(ex - In Book III, when we first meet the Son, he willingly takes on the job of dying for mankind). If M. described Satan as a crimpy creature,people wouldn’t realize the greatness of god. Satan was a fallen,but angel! He is a worthy rival. Satan symbolize sin and evil. Critics say-epic is assymetrical (giant introduction+weak body).This assynetry=chaos, but gives us a panoramic view:см цитаты.

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