Published on January 9th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
‘Parodies Lost’ – Discussion of John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’
A few months ago I read Paradise Lost by John Milton.
I heard it was one of the best pieces of literature ever written and so I decided to give it a go, I was not ever made aware of what Paradise Lost was about and so strangely when I picked it up I mistakenly thought it was a poem about estrangement on an island, much like Robinson Crusoe, except with him meeting Satan and going on some form of philosophical journey.
Paradise Lost is in fact an epic English poem in blank verse written by John Milton recounting the fall from Eden of Adam and Eve, which is told from Satan’s perspective (during some of it).
So it’s actually quite different and I’m rather glad that I don’t have any friends who read, because that surely would have cost me several years ridicule.
Paradise Lost was a bit of an enigma to me, I am not religious and so when tackling religious text I view as a theologist and not as a practical believer, however, this poem really didn’t have me convinced, I found much of it to be contradictory in nature and I think that a lot of the directions he took in it were implicating for Milton and his belief.
Firstly, it is very odd for one to choose to tell the story from the antagonist’s view and odder still that one would do it with a religious story! It’s almost as if Milton is a latent Satanist!
Secondly, for an anti-monarchist (Milton was a parlimentarian civil servant under Oliver Cromwell) to then be doing this – writing about how Satan rose up against God is, well, there’s no latency about that! That’s pretty much straight up screaming heresy.
I propose a thesis – Milton is a non-believer in Christianity, Paradise Lost is in fact one of the most clever satires of religion in history.
There are many reasons why I believe this, I haven’t pulled it out of the air as I show.
Eve is tricked into eating the tree of knowledge’s fruit, perhaps because Eve is meant to be only beautiful and is condemned to ignorance and responsibility of her free will “Her the inferiour in the mind and inward faculties” also how is one expected to obey God (which is a moral imperative) and resist Satan if they haven’t the knowledge of Good & Evil or most wordly matters to begin with?
In the world of God questioning authority is a crime, knowledge is a crime and knowing good and evil is a crime. This shows how God has double standards, it is impossible to please the bastard!
Adam & Eve are able to live a life free of sin while pursuing earthly pleasures in the Garden of Eden, this they do without lust but is also not for producing children, they have sex after eating the fruit of the tree, which they enjoyed but afterwards had horrible dreams and were ashamed. Why would that be? Because their God likes to punish people for having fun.
Satan is an antihero, Pandaemonium is reflective of heaven but unlike heaven Satan is elected by his people, exactly like Cromwell. Throughout the poem we see many parts of Satan’s war with God it is not chronological, God doesn’t fight his own battles and the war only ends when the Son of God appears and takes out the Satan’s angels, this isn’t without loss on God’s side and he didn’t intervene. Satan only finishes large scale operations after he talked Eve into trying the fruit. This is because after he gave humans freedom of knowledge and choice, he knew he could let us choose our own path, unlike God who wanted to control what we thought,“Think only of what concerns thee” it would be odd for Milton, a man of some science to say this with no irony whatever.
Eve had to be made out of one of Adam’s ribs as he was made in God’s image, making God male – I mean really? The bullshit sexism of Christianity has always been one of the most obvious bollocks about them and what’s more, due to the Bible being rife in the stuff they really can’t escape the criticism in the Modern era.
“Magnanimous to correspond with Heaven” is how God describes what he wants of man, which is hilarious as when Eve sinned Adam forgave her and joined her, but when God learned of their sin, he threw them out of the Garden of Eden and cursed them with Death.“Govern well thy appetitite, lest sin surprise thee, and her black attendant Death” – by which God basically means himself, the cruel prick. The strangest thing is that God threatened them with Death and when they sinned that’s exactly what he gave them, however when his Son asks him to show mercy on the humans God accepts and says they are forgiven – but does all he threated anyway, this means he either went back on his word OR he was originally going to do worse than he said he would. Lovely.
Milton seems to use the populations steadfast belief in God to get some little ideas of his own out there he likens the planetary motions to the Godhead and then “with stars numerous, and every star perhaps a world of destined habitation” he basically says that there are aliens we should definitely go and join sometime. Whoever knew that Milton was the first Futurist?
Okay so apart from perhaps the last paragraph it seems pretty evident to me that John Milton was less than pious and that it was probably his lack in faith that made him so anti-royalist. He uses Paradise Lost to show that God imposes his rule on men, where Satan convinces his men, just like Charles Stuart and Oliver Cromwell, God’s own justification to his rule is that he believes that he empowers people and that through their slavery comes freedom. “To worship and in reward rule”