Select a passage from Paradise Lost (no longer than 4 lines) and put it into your own words. Discuss briefly the significance of the passage that you have chosen and “translated.” Do not choose a passage already written upon by another student unless you have something different to say about the passage.
In 1-2 well-developed and well-detailed paragraphs, discuss one of the topics listed below.
- What do you make of Milton’s characterization of Satan? Select a passage from the epic where Satan might appear heroic; then go on to argue why that appearance might be deceiving (or, in other words, why he is not acting truly heroic).
- What, according to Milton’s account, causes Adam and / or Eve to fall from Eden? Note: the correct answer is not “eating the fruit” but some action or train of thought that leads to their fall.
- Compare and contrast Eve with other heroines that we have encountered in our readings. AND / OR Discuss some problems with Milton’s depiction of gender.
- In the beginning of Book IX, Milton claims his subject is “Not less but more heroic” (14) than any of his epic predecessors. Discuss what Milton considers “heroic.” What would Milton make of some of the earlier epic heroes that we have encountered? A hint on this one: don’t fall into the trap of considering Satan as the hero; he tries to act and sound like one but really provides a false example of the “heroic” (and you could use those false definitions to help you identify, by contrast, true definitions of what Milton means by “heroic”). How are Adam and maybe even Eve examples of a new kind of hero?
– Paradise Lost: Selections from Dartmouth’s Milton Reading Room:
- Book I: 1-26 (the invocation) and two of the fallen Satan’s speeches: 81-124, 242-270
- Book II: 1-470. the council scene
- Book IX: complete. The Fall from Eden
- Book X: 720-end of Book X. This selection begins with the despairing Adam but ends with real hope.
- Book XII: 552-649 (the end)