John Milton Writing Styles in Paradise Lost

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The standard definition of an epic, or heroic poem, is that it is a "noble story told in noble verse" (Hutson and McCoy, Epics of the Western World, p. 7), a continuous narrative concerning a heroic person from history or tradition. The epic uses historical and mythological material to exemplify a truth which is greater than both. The subject of an epic poem is to be a story which both delights and instructs, embodying the cultural and moral ideals of its time but with universal implications.

Milton chooses an unusual subject for his great epic poem, ostensibly shunning "Wars, hitherto the only Argument / Heroic deem'd" (IX.28-9), in favor of the sad task of relating an "argument / Not less but more Heroic than the wrath / Of Stern Achilles on his Foe pursu'd / Thrice Fugitive about Troy Wall" (DC. 13-15). The "higher argument" which Milton chooses is the story...

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This section contains 1,036 words
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Paradise Lost from Epics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.