A masterpiece. Rating: 100 out of 10.
My review could have ended there but I’ll expand on this. It is a masterpiece of literature, the lines of which, in my opinion, would greatly inspire anyone, regardless of their world views and religion.
Though of course, Paradise Lost isn’t for everyone, that’s true. As I’d mentioned before, it took me several tries to get into it. However, if you want to read a piece of classical literature which is not only full of beautiful metaphors, engaging characters, and intriguing subtext, but also encompasses one of the greatest varieties of spiritual and philosophical themes that everyone, and I mean everyone, can relate to, then I strongly suggest you give it a try. Or two. What helped me is rereading the very first page of the book over and over again until I got used to Milton and actually understood what was going on; then my reading pace increased and I became fully immersed in the text.
But what is the text about?
Wikipedia, my old friend, says this:
The poem concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
Ah, but it is so much more. (Sort of spoilers but come on. You’ve heard this before.)
We start with the fall of Satan and follow him right after he and the angels he led into rebellion find themselves in the pits of hell.
We hear him and his lackeys plotting how they may best disrupt God’s actions, and first the idea to corrupt or bring destruction upon mankind comes to Satan’s mind.
We follow him through abysses and oblivions leading to Eden, where he is awed at the pair of humans he finds.
We ascend to Heaven and see how God fortells the fall of man, and how the Son of God offers to die himself for the salvation of humanity.
We are told by the Archangel Raphael what happened during the War in Heaven, and his tale literally made me see a CGI motion picture in my mind.
We see how Eve, then Adam, disobey God’s direct command and Paradise Lost ends just how it’s supposed to end, according to the Bible and common sense.
But what I loved most was how Milton managed to tell the story.
I’ll admit, sometimes I found myself getting bored, but mostly because I couldn’t understand the references Milton was making. If you’re reading this with links that explain things like this in the text, you won’t have the same problem. Say, 90 percent of the time I found myself bombarded with awe-inspiring wording, not at all cliche or too sophisticated, but rather original and simplistic.
Mercy first and last shall brightest shine.
Me miserable! which way shall I flie
Infinite wrauth, and infinite despaire?
Which way I flie is Hell; my self am Hell…
So dear I love him, that with him all deaths
I could endure, without him live no life.
When I stumbled upon such descriptions/dialogue, it made me all warm and fuzzy inside. I felt so happy that such beauty existed in this flawed world of ours, and I came to the very unlikely but just conclusion that yes, I’ve found someone who can rival Shakespeare’s poetry in my eyes. Milton uses the iambic pentameter just as skilfully, believe me.
Check out my other posts on Paradise Lost (there are several, yeah, I really loved it).
If you decide to give it a try/have already read it/liked it/didn’t like it, regardless, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!