Paradise Lost Essay

Essay #1

Write a brief essay (1,000 words) on ONE of the following topics.

1. With specific and detailed reference to any one passage in Paradise Lost of approximately 30 lines, examine Milton’s use of “apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another”.

2. Compare and contrast the speeches of any TWO devils in the debate in Hell. How does Milton use stylistic devices (of syntax, prosody, diction etc.) to convey the speakers’ rhetorical power?

3. Adam and Eve are supposedly innocent until the moment they eat the forbidden fruit, yet both of them display signs of what looks like fallen behaviour even before they eat the apple. With detailed and specific reference to EITHER Eve’s encounter with her own reflection in the lake OR Eve’s dream, discuss the proposition that Eve is fallen before the Fall.

4. Despite Milton’s declared aim to ‘justify the ways of God to men’ (1.26), the God we hear in book three of Paradise Lost sounds uneasy with his own claims to justice. In part the problem is that God is simultaneously judge, jury, and the accused. Discuss with detailed reference to Milton’s portrayal of God in book three. You may, if you wish, compare God with the Son.

5. Is Milton’s Chaos (both the place and the person) good, evil, or morally neutral?

6. In the first two books of Paradise Lost, Satan delivers great public orations to an army of millions. In book four, he delivers three soliloquies (4.32-113, 4.358-92, 4.505-35).  What do Satan’s private deliberations add to our understanding of his character and motives? Discuss with specific and detailed reference to any ONE or TWO of his book four soliloquies. You may, if you wish, make brief reference to his earlier public speeches for the sake of comparison.

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