Paradise Lost Study Guide Questions Short Introduction to Renaissance Literature
Book I, Paradise Lost, first 270 lines
Unlike any poet preceding him, Milton writes a biblical/classical epic. As a result, he relies most heavily on classical mythology and biblical narrative, particularly that of the Old Testament.
Five fingers of rhetoric
Renaissance the celebration of style and stylistic devices (whereas the medieval period concentrated on the structure of the argument (arrangement) and the grammar used in an argument.
Whereas the medieval age was centered around the church, the Renaissance period was centered around human accomplishments
What do we mean by “double translation” and how did this affect Milton’s writing?
· The book was written in Latin and English. This is because Latin was the language of the scholar and the Church.
Invocation to the Muse: typical of heroic tradition, correct? The muse helped in writing this piece and is considered a cosmic epic. His muse is the Holy Spirit. It is a cosmic epic because it it talks about God, the Devil, and the concept of Man falling. It refers to all of humankind, all readers are involved in the tragedy.
1. According to the “Argument,” what is the subject of this epic? According to the Argument, the subject of this epic is what happens when mankind has succumbed into temptation.
2. The poem begins in
medias res or middle of the action, presenting Satan and his angels as having already fallen from Heaven.
3. The devils are named after Pagan Gods.
4. Pandemonium is the Palace of Satan.
The Epic Itself
In the first several lines of Book I Milton focuses on his own writing.
5. Why do modern readers find Milton difficult to read?
(Look at first “sentence” as an example). The writing style is influenced by the Latin sentence structure.
6. Who is Milton’s muse? (l. 6) How is his choice of muses different from that of other heroic poets before him? (Example: Homer’s “Sing, O goddess, of the wrath of Achilles.”) The Holy Spirit
7. Line 13-16 reads, “Invoke thy aid to my advent’rous song/ That with no middle flight intends to soar/ Above the Aonian mount while it pursues/ Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.”
What does Milton mean by “advent’rous song?” During this time, no one has written about the fall of man. Milton wrote this as he was blind and dictated this thorugh a secretary.
By “middle flight?” Middle is informational, expository and is the standard form of writing for academic pursuit. The Grand style has to do with the highest eloquence – reserved for serious subjects (Addressing royalty, bringing yourself to fame) In terms of the story, Milton believed that the story should be written in its highest form since it is a cosmic epic.
The last phrase “Things unattempted…” Is this claim true?
8. In lines 22-26 Milton states his purpose in writing Paradise Lost. What is it? Overall, Milton’s purpose is to reinforce the idea that God does things for a reason and mankind must ask for forgiveness for their sins.
9. Milton instructs his muse to answer two questions. The answer to these two questions frame the discussion topics of the entire epic. What are they? (lines 27-33) What caused Adam and Eve to betray their creator? Who caused them to betray their creator?
10. Why was Satan cast out of Heaven? (Line 36) To understand line 40, consult the Old Testament of book of Isaiah 14: What are Satan’s 5 declarations in this biblical passage?
11. How many days does it take for Satan and his rebel angels to fall from Heaven to Hell? (line 50). Does this remind you of a story from classical mythology?
12. Describe the atmosphere in Hell (lines 60-75).
13. Describe the atmosphere in Heaven (lines 85-87).
14. Satan declares that he may wage war with God but he will never _________ God.
15. In lines 162-165 Satan gives his philosophy about the way God operates. Explain.
What is his stated purpose in these lines?
16. Satan and his angels are compared to ________________________ (Lines 195-200).
17. To do anything at all Satan must have whose permission? (Lines 211-217).
17. Satan’s legions are compared to what in the epic simile of lines 301-313. Explain the Biblical allusions.
17. Satan chides his henchmen (demons) for __________________________. He encourages them instead to ___________________________ (lines 315-330).
17. What is the Book of Life in line 364? Why are the demons’ named blotted out?
17. Describe the worship of Moloch (1. 392 ff).
17. The fish-god is called _____________________________________________________.
17. Eli’s sons are associated with the worship of ________________ (lines 490-496).
17. Who does Satan blame for his fall? Why is this fact ironic? (lines 637-642).
17. What is the rumor in Heaven that Satan has heard and wants to search out?
17. Satan declares war against God. Upon this pronouncement, what comes out of his mouth?
17. Describe Satan’s palace.
17. What happens when all of Satan’s legions enter the palace? Look at the simile in lines 775 ff.
18. At the end of Book, I the devils are holding a council. What are they discussing?
1. The second book begins, “High on a Throne Exalted Satan sat.” Explain the irony here. Describe the throne.
2. Milton tells us that Satan is “insatiate to pursue” what kind of war “with Heav’n?” What is the significance of Milton’s word choice?
3. How does Satan borrow his arguments from Heaven’s woodpile in ll approx. 35?
4. Explain Satan’s strategy in speaking of his throne as “safe,” “unenvied.”
5. He claims that they must return to claim their “inheritance of old?” How does he describe that inheritance?
6. The first of the demons to offer a plan is Moloch, “now fiercer by despair.” What is his plan? Explain specifically his plan to “turn our Tortures into horrid Arms/Against the Torturer.” Explain the logical fallacy here.
7. Describe Moloch’s countenance as he ends his speech.
8. Describe the demeanor of the next to speak. What are his reasons for not wanting open war with Heaven?
9. Milton tells us that this speaker’s “Tongue/Dropt Manna.” Explain.
10. Explain ll. 143-148, beginning with “our only hope is flat despair.”
11. In ll. 174, Milton speaks of God’s “red right hand.” Explain.
12. Explain the argument in ll. 188-190 concerning deceiving God.
13. Who is the next speaker? What does he advise? In ll. 252ff he further argues that they must seek what?
14. How do the other demons receive Mammon’s advice?
15. Beelzeub is the next speaker. Describe his demeanor. He states that the “King of Heav’n “hath doomed this place our dungeon, not ____________.”
16. Beelzebub is the one who tells the news that “shook Heav’n’s whole circumference” when it was announced in Heav’n. What is the news?
17. What, according to Beelzebub, “would surpass/Common revenge?”
18. Whose idea was this first? ll. 381-85. Quote the lines here.
19. After they vote in favor of Beelzebub’s plan, what question does he ask?
20. As his speech is ended, he says “for on whom we send,/The weight of all and our last hope relies.” How is this statement so ironic juxtaposed against ll. 4-5 of Book 1?
21. How do the other demons respond to his question and his last statement?
22. “Long is the way,” answers Satan. How does he portray the situation as a heroic quest? (ll. 440-455)
23. He instructs them to do what in his absence?
24. Why does he want to embark upon this enterprise alone?
25. What does the new “hero” promise the other fallen angels?
26. What do the demons do with their bodies as they “rejoice in their matchless Chief?” Compare this with what action they refuse to participate in in Heaven.
27. What are some of the activities the demons engage in while Satan embarks on his quest?
28. Name the “four infernal rivers.” What does each one represent?
29. What is the river of oblivion? Why do the demons attempt to have one drop of water from this river? (ll 605-610)
30. For the first time in the poem Milton refers to Satan not only as the “Adversary of God” but also of _______.
31. Describe the “Woman” sitting before the Gates of Hell.
32. What creatures “creep into her womb” if “aught disturb’d thir noise?”
33. A reference to the Satanic Mass is made when the Night-Hag is “lured” by what smell? How does this concept compare with the worship of Moloch described in Book 1?
34. Death is the son of whose union?
35. When Death first sees Satan, he calls him what?
36. Why does “Hell grow darker” when Satan and Death prepare to fight?
37. Who intervenes in the battle? What does she call Satan? What does she call Death?
38. Describe the birth of Sin. What connection can you draw to the birth of Athena?
39. Who holds the “Sad instrument of all our woe?” What is that instrument?
40. What is Satan’s attitude toward God’s new “Favorite?”
41. What does Satan promise Sin and Death?
42. How many gates of Hell are there? Describe them.
43. Once the gates of Hell have been opened, can they be closed? Why is this significant? How wide is the path to Hell now? Describe it in Milton’s words.
44. In the last few lines of Book II Satan is described as using several different means to travel. Why is this significant and what does the grammatical structure of this passage reflect? (ll 945-950).
45. As Book 2 closes, what do we see hanging by a golden Chain?
Before reading Book IX, read the story in the Old Testament, Genesis 3:1-6.
1. Why does Milton say that he “now must change/Those Notes to Tragic?” (line 5-9)
2. Who is Sin’s shadow and who is Death’s “Harbinger?” Do you agree? Why or why not? What is a harbinger? (lines 11-12)
3. How can Milton claim that his subject matter, which he calls his “argument” is “Not less but more Heroic” than the Greek and Roman epics? (lines 13-15, lines 25-29)
4. At what time of day did Satan depart on his “quest?” (line 48ff)
5. Satan has bent all his thoughts on what? Also, describe his attitude in these lines. (lines 55-57)
6. How many nights does he travel to reach Eden? (lines 63-69)
7. What was it that “first wrought the change” in Eden? What usually causes a change, according to Milton? (line 70)
8. How did Satan gain entrance into the garden? (lines 71-76)
9. What is Satan considering “with inspection deep?” (lines 83-86)
10. According to Milton, Satan chooses the serpent to inhabit for what reasons? (line 89-96)
11. Satan, who is seeing the Earth for the first time, compares it to what? (lines 99-102) [Quote this in full]
12. Why cannot Satan find joy in the beautiful scenes surrounding him? (lines 115-122) How does this inability to experience joy relate to his description of Heaven in Book I?
13. Only in what does Satan “find ease?” (lines 129-30) Why is this fact so important?
14. What “glory” does Satan expect to come to him for seducing mankind? (lines 135-39)
15. When Satan cries, “O indignity!”, to what is he referring? (lines 154-157)
16. When Satan proclaims, “O foul descent!”, to what is he referring? (lines 163-167)
17. In lines 171-2, Satan says, “Revenge, at first though sweet,/Bitter ere long back on itself recoils.” Explain what he means. Explain Milton’s use of the word “recoils” in this context.
18. Who is the “new Favorite/ Of Heaven?” Why is Satan jealous of him? (line 175-178)
19. What does Eve propose to Adam “till more hands aid us?” (lines 208-214)
20. Eve’s speech is quite long (ll. 205-298). Adam’s hesitancy to grant her wish revolves around what knowledge or concern? (ll. 295-308)
21. In lines 405-08, Milton uses the direct vocative and speaks directly to his character, Eve. What does Milton say to Eve in these lines? How do these lines foreshadow her sin of eating of the forbidden fruit?
22. Beyond his wildest hope Satan incarnate in the serpent sees what? (Lines 419-424).
23. What is the meaning of lines 432-33? Define “unsupported Flower,” “best prop,” “storm so nigh.”
24. What does Milton mean when he calls Satan “stupidly good?” Refer to lines 454-465 to explain this phrase.
25. Satan addresses himself in the passage beginning “Thoughts, whither have ye led me… (lines 473-79). How does he “scold” himself?
26. Explain lines 781-85. Why doesn’t Milton use “ate” instead of “eat?”
27. When Adam meets Eve again her face is full of what? (lines 855-56).
28. Does Adam eat of the forbidden fruit knowingly or is he deceived? (lines 995-1005).
29. When Satan returns to Hell, expecting a hero’s welcome from his many followers, he receives what instead? (lines 500-510)? From what you know about the heroic tradition, why is this reception so unexpected? Remember that Satan thinks of himself as a hero.
30. What happens to the bodies of Satan and his demons? (lines 515-545).
1. Is Man’s sin known in Heaven before the angels give a report? What reason does Milton offer for this? (through l. 11)
2. Why, according to Milton, did Man deserve to fall?