Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reflections: Paradise Lost

Sarah J. Zern gives her opinion on John Milton's Paradise Lost:

"Paradise Lost was definitely a book that needs to be tackled.  I say tackled because it is definitely one that is steeped in poetic form and flowery writing.  There were pages where I would stop and think—“Wait, what did I just read?”—in which case I would have to go back and skim over what I had just read.  Even though this book was short at barely over one hundred pages, it definitely is not a quick read because of the language and symbolism Milton uses.

That being said, I really enjoyed reading this book.  I really liked the way Milton very creatively fleshed out the creation story—one that is very bare bones if you go at it from a strictly biblical perspective.  It was very interesting to see where he decided to take creative license.  He plays up the war in heaven quite a bit, and with some very interesting main characters—quite a few pagan deities, as well as Roman/Greek characters that I’m sure if referenced with the right background information would have made a deeper impression on me.  He also decides to allow Satan multiple physical appearances—a toad, a serpent, and an angel of light.  The very sexual way Adam and Eve’s relationship is given, even before the forbidden fruit is tasted, also puts a very new spin on an old tale.

From an LDS perspective, I find it very interesting that the distinction between man and angels is so incredibly separate.  When Adam was formed, his physical and spiritual body were created simultaneously in Milton’s (and many other Christians’) opinion.  To an LDS mind, that almost defeats the purpose of a premortal life where a war was fought—seeing as how we as human spirits had no real part in it.  The treatment of Eve as the beginning of all evil is also very different from an LDS perspective.  Mormons treat Eve with much veneration and respect, not as the vain, foolish woman portrayed in Milton’s story.

Overall, I feel like this is a must read.  Yes, it can be easy to get bogged down in the lingo, but it is well worth the perspective gained on such an oft-quoted work of literature."

1 comment: