Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Satan is the most well-developed character in Paradise Lost. Is he a sympathetic character? Examine one of his soliloquies and identify the character traits and poetic techniques that make him seem appealing or forgivable.
2. Trace the appearance of autobiographical details in Paradise Lost. How are these details important to the story? What is the identity and role of the narrator?
3. Traditional Christian belief holds that the Son and the Father are two parts of the same God, but Milton presents the Son as a fundamentally separate entity from God the Father. How does this distinction affect the plot of Paradise Lost?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Milton places great emphasis on man’s autonomous reason and free will. Do Adam and Eve show evidence of being ruled by reason before the fall?
2. Examine the passages in which Milton discusses the nature of women as compared to men. Do you think it is correct to label Milton a misogynist?
3. Paradise Lost includes many characters who can be easily compared and contrasted with each other. For instance, God and Satan stand as complete opposites; Satan, Sin, and Death form an evil version of the Holy Trinity; Adam and Eve seem to be far from equally made and disposed for life in Paradise; even God the Father and God the Son have differences. Pick one of these pairs and describe their differences as well as their similarities.
4. Based on the text of Paradise Lost, how do you think Milton would justify his alterations of and additions to the Bible, given the fact that he was a devout Christian?
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