The Paradise Within Thee: The Undying Promise of Transcendence in Paradise Lost
Mistler, Thomas Christopher
The Graduate School, Stony Brook University: Stony Brook, NY.
John Milton's Paradise Lost in its simplest sense is a poem about disobedience, loss, and sin. Borrowing much of its inspiration and material from the Book of Genesis, the great English epic tells of the Fall of Man, or the choice of Adam and Eve to disobey God by eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge. The consequences of this action are, according to Milton and Christian tradition, tremendous. The very first lines of Paradise Lost emphasize this point, telling how "Man's first disobedience" brought "death into the world and all our [humanity's] woe" (I.1, 3). In my examination of the technical elements of Paradise Lost--including character development, Latinate syntax and rhetoric--I analyze the various ways that Milton reveals the potential that humanity has for ameliorating the burdens of the Fall and reaching greater spiritual heights. My aim is to demonstrate how Paradise Lost, while being a poem primarily telling of humanity's first sin, also functions as an inspirational poem--one that promises that the fallen human beings that Milton was writing for can hope for spiritual transcendence. In other words, they can hope for a form of personal development that can bring them closer to the God that both Milton and his readers believed in so fervently.