Talk:Paradise Lost

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"On April 27, 1667 the blind, impoverished Milton sold the copyright of Paradise Lost for £10."

as copyright wasn't established until 1709, this would have
been bloody difficult for Milton to do.

Oh, I'd dearly like to add this quotation, but I don't suppose it would really be appropriate:

He said: "Oh, don't talk about rewards. Look at Milton, who only got £5 for 'Paradise Lost.'
"And a great deal too much," I rejoined promptly. "I would have given him twice as much myself not to have written it at all."
Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh

And, of course, A. E. Housman: "Malt does more than Milton can/To justify God's ways to Man."

Someone, please take time to revert the blanket paragraph marker deletions by anonymous user. Revolver 00:52, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC) Recently, I updated the links to Project Gutenberg texts to link to the bibliographic records that are now availible instead of linking straight to a text file. I see it has been changed back. Is this unacceptable for some reason?

Blake quote[edit]

The Blake quote about Milton being "of the Devil's party without knowing it" is given, as it is often given elsewhere, as if Blake himself definitely believed it, but I think that's far from certain. Those words are ascribed to "the voice of the Devil" in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Blake was very much interested in presenting contradictory truths and states of mind in his work, so I feel it is simplistic to simply present it as "Blake thought this..." when his opinion of Milton was probably more multi-faceted than the words he puts in the mouth of one of his characters. TheEvilPanda 16:21, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Complete rewrite[edit]

I am working in a complete rewrite of this article, since there are many factual inconsistencies, misconceptions and misreadings. The mentioning of Cromwell as a means to justify's Milton's choice of protagonist (another misconception) is particularly innacurate, so is the view of Milton's conception of the Trinity. The section on Context is very weak; Legacy is lacking; and "See also" is very misleading, reading as if the documentaries are about Milton's poem. I expect to put a new version up within the week, and would encourage you to check and improve.

I would also like a re-write of this article, but my concern lies within grammar. I noticed too many grammatical flaws throughout the article, which merit corrections. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 10:45, April 13, 2007
Please put new comments at the end of the page, and sign with ~~~~. Adding to 2007 comments with undated content is just going to cause confusion - the article is not where it was three years ago. Charles Matthews (talk) 09:05, 1 July 2010 (UTC)

Oops! Sorry, I'm new to this. Moved comment to the end. -- (talk) 13:46, 1 July 2010 (UTC)

Version of publication[edit]

"A second edition followed in 1674, redivided into twelve books" This is mentioned in the first paragraph, but the picture on the right showing the cover of the second edition says: "A Poem in Ten Books". Which is correct? Crowley 14:26, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)Crowley

The caption must be wrong, then. The main difference between the first and second editions is the number of books, ten on the first and twelve on the second. Sdicht 19:26, 15 Apr 2005

Removal of material[edit]

I see someone has removed material on "iconography." I understand that there are scholars who may prefer the article to be specifically about the poem Paradise Lost, but the greatness of the epic is measured by it's impact, which should be discussed. In fact the relevance of the iconography material should have been discussed before deletion! The essence of scholarship is the ongoing dialog among scholars which advances the understanding of a subject. I will not revert the article, but would like to hear the opinions of others on this matter. S. H. Ryke


I don't think it is appropriate to present Milton's view of the Trinity as a factual matter, since it is the subject of considerable controversy, particularly since Milton's authorship of the Christian Doctrine (De Doctrina Christiana)--on which most work on JM's trinitarianism or lack thereof has been based--has been disputed by William B. Hunter and others. Better to represent it as a crux for scholars and as ambiguous within the poem itself. Chick Bowen 22:43, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Satan as hero[edit]

I see that someone has rewritten the bit about Satan being the hero. Given the academic discussions over this subject, I suggest that neutrality is kept in this respect. Some critics DO believe that Satan is the hero, while some others do not. The way it was before was more neutral, now it's just stating that he is a "true hero", and so on. Sdicht 22:43, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

there are a ton of errors in this section, mostly due to poor diction. Im working on rendering a more precise article. it should be noted that satan is can be viewed as both the anti-hero and hero of the epic, and that there exist arguments supporting both. Satan's status as a "true hero" is a very difficult assertion to prove and given the evidence for the argument of his status as the anti-hero, should probably be reworded.

But the earliest person recorded as saying that Satan was the hero was Dryden, a monarchist opposed to Milton's republican sentiment. To the above commentator: if you believe that Milton thought Satan a positive character, you would probably believe that Milton was in favor of lying (Satan to the angels) mind control (Satan to Eve as she slept), rape and incest (Satan to his daughter), suborning an election, and condemning every single being on a planet that had caused him no harm to pain and death. Yes, some people can justify these actions: I live in a country whose administration supports torture and destruction of the constitution. "Necessity, the tyrant's plea." But given that the narrative voice condemns the (socially heinous) actions performed in the text, it would take extraordinary pleading to make the case that Milton supported those actions or the character that does them.

Because "Satan as hero" is secondary, I would urge elimination of the assertion in the earlier part of the article, confining all discussion to this section. 13:02, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

In the article Satan is called a protagonist, surely there could be a better title, I looked up the meaning and the definition i suppose is true, leader of the story... not always good. However it needs to be clearer that Satan is the personification of evil. In the books, he is against God, trying to 'get back at him' or destroy him. God is omnipotent and the entity of good, surely he would be better listed as an antagonist... or maybe someone could find a middle definition if they do not wish to see God as a protagonist. ~ Mitsunari 11:00, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

You could call him a tragic hero. Jiakopa was (not) here (talk) 12:57, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

I think that Satan's character analysis is tempered with some religious preconceptions, rather than what Paradise Lost actually says. For instance, it describes him as narcissistic five times in one short passage. In Paradise Lost, he is presented as very proud; but narcissistic is a different matter. The only proof that is given for this 'character analysis' is the fact that Death was a result of his incestuous union with Sin. But that's incest-- not narcissism. There are several other statements which are correct in general religious terms, but aren't supported by quotes from Paradise Lost. Satan is described as 'delusional' several times. Now, in Paradise Lost it was very clear that he was perfectly aware of what he was doing and what the results would be. The argument that Satan was delusional because 'Sin and Death can both be read as delusions of Satan’s mind' is weak. It suggests that he was hallucinating. Sin and Death might have only been symbols, but that doesn't mean Satan is mentally ill. It was Milton's choice to present them as anthropomorphic personifications (borrowing from Terry Pratchett there.)

There's an excellent article at which suggests the following exercise: replace Satan's name with 'Robert', and then treat him as an ordinary character. Then you get rid of your preconceptions (yes, everyone knows that Satan's evil) and you can analyse him much more accurately, like any other character in a poem. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:29, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

The critic John Carey wrote a great deal about Satan as a hero (I believe the Cambridge Collections is the best place to find this writing). He argued that many of Satan's soliloquies (particularly those in Books IX and X) were written separately and written with the accessibility of the dramatic, rather than the distance of an epic. Particularly compared with the angry/vengeful God (it is Jesus who is the more forgiving/attractive) who is quite distant and speaks little comparatively, this means that Satan becomes quite attractive. As Satan is certainly written in the form of an epic hero (soliloquies, etc), he is the only character with any depth: you see his thought process in a way that you see no other character's (until Adam post Eve's fall debates whether or not he should join her) and he tells of events that are not described through narrative in Paradise Lost - for example the angels' rebellion. Even if you disagree with this, it must be argued that he is an easier character to write: I'm sure Milton would have agreed we have better sympathies with Satan as we are sinful beings than we do with God as we cannot truly comprehend perfection. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:10, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

I feel that the current lead ("the Romantics began to regard Satan as the protagonist of the epic") could do with improvement. I don't think anyone could seriously deny that Satan is the _protagonist_; the question is whether or not he's the _hero_. "Hero" would be acceptable in the lead sentence, IMO. (talk) 22:47, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

I think we're doing a bad job upholding the standards about citations in the Criticism and Responses section. There's a very long tangential paragraph about Satan's "old hierarchical views" which seems to me to convey a huge reader-bias. I would certainly like to see some references provided for this section. (talk) 01:39, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Unfortunately, the discussion of Satan as "sort of" protagonist is a tortured mess. I see the attempt made to qualify and add nuance to the definition, but there has to be a better way to refer to him without resorting to him via a number of strange qualifications. I think calling him a "major driving character" is fine. I'll attempt to rewrite when I'm home near all my Milton books, and you all can comment. --Tassie Gniady (talk) 22:42, 25 January 2015 (UTC)


With the three redirects to other items, the top of the article looks clunky. Would it make sense to replace these three with a link to a redirect page? i.e., searching for "Paradise Lost" brings one to this article, but clicking on the redirect link shows one the various other options? Mgriffin 16:24, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

Description of Eve[edit]

A friend of mine brought this to my attention. In the description of Eve, when they mention that Eve is absent from the learning, it makes it seem like she is absent by choice. The only real time she is absent by choice is during the conversation with Raphael in Books 5 - 6. During the conversation with Michael and Adam in books 11 - 12 Michael puts Eve to sleep and takes Adam up to the hill so he can tell Adam about the sins of mankind and then the coming of Jesus / return to paradise. Eve learns through Adam and through her dreams (book 11/12). Should we revise this?

At one point she does say that she prefers to learn things as told by Adam. This is part of the whole misogynist claim. If she does so by choice at that point, one should check the poem carefully, but it does sound reasonable. - Sdicht

Vandalism repair[edit]

I've just completed an attempted repair of, what I took to be, some old vandalism from August 7, 2005. God (or Satan) knows whether I've done this correctly, not being up on my Milton scholarship. I'd appreciate it if someone who knows something about this, would please check my work. Thanks — Paul August 22:16, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

I think it's better now. I think that academic current of Satan mimicking other epic heroes was fronted by Barbara Johnson but I'm not sure, I'll have to check on that. Nice going on Stanley Fish there. Sdicht 22:40, 15 March 2006 (UTC)


"It is wrong, however, to think that Milton is denigrating women through his depiction of Eve." - Why is it wrong to think that? It may be wrong to say that Milton is deliberately denigrating women, but claiming that Milton's characterization of Eve was pure "social commentary" reeks of subtle revisionism to me. As with many other questionable claims this article makes, a citation or attestation is urgently needed. Wikipedia's job is not to analyze books, it is to report on noteworthy analysis of books reputable sources have made (which should be especially easy for a book as noteworthy as Paradise Lost). -Silence 09:56, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Spot on - I've deleted the offending sentence. A lot more could do with rewriting, too, as much of this article is very un-Wikilike. As other editors have observed, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not lit crit. I admit it's a hard balance to strike, because it's difficult to write an article of the length PL deserves without getting stuck into some criticism. However, the whole point of criticism is that it is necessarily NPOV. Bedesboy 09:56, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

I don't know if it is worth mentioning but I would like to mention that the narrator, a fallen human, and Satan are the "characters" that usually depict Eve as inferior to Adam. In my reading, and in some of the literary criticisms I’ve seen, I noticed that Eve's position to Adam seems equivalent to that between God the Father and God the Son, distinct but equal. I don't think that Milton was necessarily immune from the social prejudices of his day but I see that, at least before the fall, Adam and Eve could be viewed as equal. Clearly this is not simply social commentary but Milton may have well been expressing some rather advanced ideas on the place of women. It may not be a wide-spread enough belief to warrant mention but I thought that it might be good to have this view available for consideration.

I sympathize with female readers who take up PL, but Milton makes clear that both Adam and Eve sin consciously with all the faculties in place to choose otherwise - that is to say, correctly. However, Milton is clearly following the text of Genesis pretty closely (at least as it concerns Adam and Eve) and is therefore constrained in the pivotally narrative choices that he is 'allowed' to make. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:21, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Contemporary References[edit]

I've parsed out individual references, it seemed far too jumbled to be of any particular use. However I took care not to change anything outside of format. -Loki's Valentine


A part of this article seems to be plagiarized from Sparksnotes. From first glance, I can find one sentence that is directly copied from SparksNotes:

"Satan is far from being the story's object of admiration."

I would suggest either adding Sparksnotes as a source or removing that sentence, as it infringes upon copyright terms.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) December 11, 2006

This edit seems to have introduced material from the Sparksnote link above, probably in violation of copyright. This needs fixing. Paul August 05:47, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
OK, I've reverted to the last version prior to the edit above. And I've tried to restore some of the good material from newer versions. But alot of material has been lost. Paul August 06:22, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Characterization of God[edit]

The last two sentences of the introduction seem oversimplified and might even mischaracterize the poem. If the Father is sarcastic, there ought to be cited evidence of sarcasm (or perhaps a passage from the poem?), since sarcasm is such a heavy charge to level. The Father's "irascibility" is subjective (He is angry, but is He easily provoked to anger?). While the Son's sacrifice is clearly meant to be viewed as generous, "optimism" as a contrast forthe Father is an odd choice of wording given that Milton's Father is clearly omniscient.

One piece of criticism I've read noted the distance that we as 20th/21st century readers experience the poem from; the difference in our experience from Milton's contemporaries colors our experience and makes some of the quick judgments we might make about the characters questionable.

The text in question is: "He presents a Father who is good but irascible and sarcastic, and a Son who is generous and optimistic. The Son serves as a "vessel" for the Father's more good-natured aspect." 12:38, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

The idea that Milton wrote his epic with Satan as protagonist is ridiculous. Equally inane is the idea that Milton was an Arian. Why is an article about one of the foremost works of English literature such a crapfest?

Is it ridiculuous? John Dryden thought so, at least in the term's technical sense (Preface to Fables). As for Milton's Arianism, there is ample historical and poetic evidence to support it, and he advances his disbelief in the coeternity of the Father and Son explicitly in Christian Doctrine V, which you may want to reread. Esquilax8 09:03, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

This page reads like an essay written on "PL" for a college literature course[edit]

I have added several new tags to this article, because there seem to be several major and consistent problems with this page. Many sections (but especially the Characters section) give "analysis" that one might find written on an in-class exam for a literature course... almost NO sources are cited throughout this article. Although much of this page does offer thoughtful discussion, and it does offer interesting points, these points need to be supported with citations from scholars, literary critics, and historians. As someone who truly loves PL, I think we all need to make a concerted effort to bring this great epic work's article up to an acceptable level of quality. Rellman 01:42, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

See section below. Paul August 02:28, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

"Main characters" section removed as copyvio[edit]

I've removed the "Main characters" section since most of it is copied from: Paul August 02:28, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

Cultural significance[edit]

I had a go at framing the section on 'cultural significance' with some unifying remarks on Milton's intentions and effect on humanism in literature. I think this section deserved a bit more than the grab-bag of popular culture references that seem to inhabit it at present. Mercurius (talk) 20:35, 25 May 2008 (UTC)好伟大的人

Couldn't agree more- PL's influence on 18th and 19th century Anglophone (and world) culture and literature was staggering, ranging from outright imitation to adaptation to more subtle thematic and poetic echoes. Right now the "literature" section has only the Pullman books. A good place to start would probably be Erik Gray's "Milton and the Victorians." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:55, 1 July 2010 (UTC)

Classical Greek tradition[edit]

I disagree with the following section:

"The story is innovative in that it attempts to reconcile the Christian and Pagan traditions: like Shakespeare, Milton found Christian theology lacking, requiring something more. He tries to incorporate Paganism, classical Greek references and Christianity within the story. He greatly admired the classics but intended this work to surpass them."

The presence of Greek background is true, but it is not innovative.

Greek philosphy was brought into Christianity centuries before by Thomas Aquinas, who quoted Aristotle extensively in his SUMMA. Dante's DIVINE COMEDY uses mythological imagery even more than Milton, including Homeric-style invocations of the Muses. Pope Julius II even commissioned Raphael to paint a mural of the Greek gods and goddesses (PARNASSUS) for his study; it's still there. Michelangeo's LAST JUDGEMENT included the mythological image of Chiron conducting sinners into Hell (following Dante). In short, mixing pagan ideas into a Christian literary work was not at all unusual; the church's attitude seemed to have been that pagan symbolism and ideas were acceptable as long as they supported a Christian theme. CharlesTheBold 14:43, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

It goes back even earlier, Saint Augustine cast Christian theology in a Neoplatonic mold in the 4th and 5th centuries CE.-- 22:15, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

A close reading also shows that Milton is at pains to remove the possibility of "factual" validity from the Greek myths he alludes to. (He says at one point that a Greek myth is "false" and another biblical story "true" - maybe book nine?) However, doesn't he also make one of the muses the sister of Wisdom at some point? However, it probably would not be going too far to suggest that Paradise Lost is to some extent a reconciliation of pagan and Christian literary traditions. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:15, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

An Unusual Milton's Birthday celebration[edit]

Thought you all might liie to know about this: Williamsburg Art & Historical Center Celebrates John Milton’s 400th Birthday

The UNRIVALED arts festival honoring Milton’s birthday and Paradise lost, the greatest poem in the English language September 27th thru November 2nd, 2008 Opening with the

THE GRAND PARADISE LOST COSTUME BALL September 27th 8pm to midnite Williamsburg Resident (talk) 13:59, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for that but Wikipedia is not for advertising. It seems we've missed it anyway. --Jupiter Optimus Maximus (talk) 17:58, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Notes on language[edit]

It seems strange that there are no sections on the character of Paradise Lost's language. Certainly, it is useful for a reader to know about certain facts like the fact that Paradise Lost often uses Latin sentence constructions.

Should I add a section on Paradise Lost's language? Is that alright? What do you think? I have a few books for reference on this area. --Xenonoxide (talk) 12:04, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

Sounds good as long as your sources are of a good quality. I know John Dryden similarly constructed his sentences this way and it's interesting to see how Latin permeated the English language at this point in history. Sillyfolkboy (talk) 13:33, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

External link to digital facsimile of PL book 1 manuscript[edit]

Please consider adding the following external link:

This presentation includes a digital facsimile of every page of the original manuscript of Book 1 (the only surviving copy dictated by Milton to a scribe). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Morganlibrary (talkcontribs) 02:31, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Novels Project[edit]

Why is this in this? Unless there is some arcane EngLit theoretical justification, produced in the next few days, I will remove it. Johnbod (talk) 03:37, 8 December 2008 (UTC)


Paradise Lost is the work of a Christian, with a Christian mindset, to call it anything remotely "Judeo-" is misleading. When I spoke to my English professor about it, he concurred. It should changed to "Christian". —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dannyza1981 (talkcontribs) 00:07, 25 December 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, but you couldn't be more wrong. The bulk of the story is entirely indebted to Genesis which is an entirely Judaic text with absolutely nothing about it that could be called "Christian." He also drew upon the Book of Enoch, a text that is not even recognized as apocrypha by the majority of Christian churches. Furthermore, Milton drew from his large knowledge of Hebrew, the language of the Jewish scriptures, when creating the work. (The New Testament wass written in a dialect of Greek.) (talk) 08:23, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

And yet the Jews don't have this whole trinity concept, which is pretty central to Paradise Lost. Links to judaism are tenuous at best. (talk) 10:56, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
What a strange conversation. If I said that the entire work is "indebted" to Virgil I'd be just as right--or wrong. Drmies (talk) 02:38, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

To quote the disputed sentence in full: "The poem concerns the Judaeo-Christian story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden." If you read the Fall of Man article you will see that this, at least in the sense Milton would have understood it, is a specifically Christian doctrine. Also, the identification of the serpent in the Garden of Eden appears to be specifically Christian, it first occurs in the Book of Revelation. PatGallacher (talk) 16:56, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

The opening is clearly a specifically Christian statement:- "Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste Brought death into the World, and all our woe, With loss of Eden, till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,"

Is it worth mentioning that you can sing the first line and a half to the tune of "Meet The Flintstones"? Probably not. PatGallacher (talk) 17:04, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

"Thus wrote first hand etc."? What did that mean?[edit]

"He wrote first-hand for the Commonwealth of England." (From the INTRODUCTION, of all places.) That makes no sense at all. For starters, it's well known he didn't write any of Paradise Lost in his own hand - literally. More importantly, what in the world can that mean? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:34, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Subject Matter Section is Tangential, Terrible[edit]

It recapitulates information already given. Moreover, does a little quibble about Milton's imaginary celestial geography have anything at all to do with the SUBJECT MATTER of Paradise Lost? Is that really what the poem is ABOUT? I don't think so. It doesn't even belong in the article at all. (Whoever wrote said as much themselves when they added "however, this isn't even an issue" etc., which is so idiotically colloquial it'd be laughable if the state of this article weren't so depressing.) I've rewritten (cosmetic changes) some of the article, as some of the authors have no command whatsoever of what written English should look and sound like. (talk) 08:55, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

I thought about it all day today, reread that section three times, and came to the conclusion that none of what was written there really had anything to do with the SUBJECT MATTER of PL. If there is going to be such a section, it should contain what I have now included, which is a list of topics those interested in the book may wish to know are covered, discussed, or touched upon by Milton, with a partial list of Milton's sources. What if I have written is a "draft," please add more. I don't think it really needs references in the way some other things might. BTW, is there a Brittanica Article that could be used as some sort of basis, or at least to add relevant material? This page should be A-LEVEL Priority, instead it's languishing under amateur writing and weak editorial supervision. (talk) 08:31, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

I agree, an unnecessary section, I have incorporated most of it in the introduction, although this could possibly do with condensation. PatGallacher (talk) 20:38, 27 August 2009 (UTC)


I have suggested that A Preface to Paradise Lost be merged to this article because the work is not notable outside of the context of the subject of this article. -- Mikeblas (talk) 16:41, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

I disagree that the work is not notable per se, but this 1 1/2 line stub should surely merged or redirected to C. S. Lewis, the author, instead? Johnbod (talk) 19:39, 19 December 2009 (UTC)
If it's going to be merged, it should be merged into Lewis' article first, and then mentioned in the PL article only if there is a section about the critical/reception history of PL. Aristophanes68 (talk) 00:37, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Broken citations in the marriage section[edit]

There are 4-5 citations which broken in that section. Please fix them. I would, but I don't know how. Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 22:29, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

I've attempted to fix this paragraph. Paul August 03:05, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Deletions 2010-03-19[edit]

An editor is deleting sections that reflect a POV nature. Unless he can explain them in a NPOV manner here and achieve consensus, his deletions should be reverted. This article was stable before his visits. --Morenooso (talk) 22:21, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

What POV do you think they reflect? See the reasons for my edits below. Paul August 23:13, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Milton's "Heavenly muse"[edit]

I made a couple of edits which were reverted as possibly "POV", and was asked to seek consensus on the talk page, so here I am.

The last sentence of the "Composition" section says:

The poet claimed that a divine spirit inspired him during the night, leaving him with verses that he would recite in the morning.

I deleted this sentence [1] since I think that it gives the false impression that Milton was asserting this as fact rather than as poetic metaphor.

I also deleted the identification of the "Heavenly Muse" with the Holy Spirit, as "not necessarily" so [2], since for example quoting from "Urania" in A Milton Encyclopedia (p. 112):

Though his widow allegedly believed (see Parker, Milton, p. 1096) that his invocations were addressed to the Holy Spirit, this interpretration has been challenged ... Maurice Kelly has suggested that Milton "invoked a muse who was not the Third Person but a personification of various attributes of God the father. William B. Hunter, Jr, in Bright Essence (1971) suggests that ... Milton "is involking the Son of God to mediate for him with the Father," ... In Shawcross's opinion, "the spirit of God, at least, is invoked" at the begining of Milton's epic, "regardless of which specific person of the Trinity is intended." For Merritt Y. Huges, "Milton's Urania is not simply the Christianized Muse whom Professor Campbell has traced in the English and Scottish translations and imitations" of DuBartas; and in Helen Gardiner's opinion, she is neither "a metaphor for the Holy Spirit" nor a "mere personification" of one of the gifts of the Spirit, but the "poetic embodiment of Milton's belief in his vocation ..."

And it goes on. Any objections to my redoing my edits?

Paul August 23:11, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Yes, that is why I requested consensus. How do you know what Milton's intent was (fact versus metaphor). Not necessarily so is not enough for a good reason to delete. And, the lead paragraph indentifies where Milton was going with his discussion/metaphor about the fallen angel known also as Satan.
If you want to argue in a new section that POV, please do so and reasonably cite it. --Morenooso (talk) 23:17, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
Let's make sure we are clear about what we are talking about. Let's discuss each edit separately, first:

Does "Heavenly muse" = Holy Spirit?[edit]

In the "Synopsis" section, Book I, it says:

... the poet invokes the "Heavenly Muse" (the Holy Spirit) ...

This implies that what Milton meant by the "Heavenly Muse" was the Holy Spirit. I'm questioning whether that is in fact true. What is the source for this assertion? Above I've provided an authoritative source "A Milton Encyclopedia" which cites multiple source which questions this interpretation. Based on that (and other sources), I think we should remove the mention of the Holy Spirit in that sentence.

We could have a section where we discuss various interpretations by Milton scholars of what Milton may have meant by "Heavenly muse" (and Urania) -- there has been plenty written on the subject (see for example [3]). Morenooso asks above how do I know what Milton meant, my answer is I don't know for sure, and I don't think anyone else does either, so let's not imply that they do. Let's remove that phrase from the article.

Paul August 02:25, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Another more suscinct quote from A Milton Encyclopedia, p 91:

Milton's invocations of his Muse* in PL have recieved a number of interpretations. Some of these have denied any trinitarian implications, and held that the muse merely personifies poetic inspiration within a Christian context, with allusions also to classical tradition. Others have claimed that the invocations call upon personifications of aspects of the Father. Still others have seen the Muse as a poetic allusion to the Holy Spirit, and arguments have recently been advanced for understanding these invocationsas addressed to Son as Logos or Word. It is probably fair to say that at present the question remains open.

Paul August 03:31, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Should the "Heavenly muse" be interpreted literally?[edit]

The last sentence of the "Composition" section says:

The poet claimed that a divine spirit inspired him during the night, leaving him with verses that he would recite in the morning.

This reads to me as if Milton made the literal claim that some or all of the poem was written by "a divine spirit". Does any reliable source actually assert this? If not this sentence needs to go. In any case the inspiring "divine spirit", whether meant literally or metaphorically, while it may not necessarily be the Holy Spirit, is certainly not "Satan" see this sequence of edits: [4], [5], [6].

Paul August 03:08, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

  • I think you're right. Johnbod (talk) 04:10, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Frankly Satan makes no sense there in that context and I need to see a source for that claim. Lots of artists have made the claim that their works were divinely inspired. Dylan essentially says that about his early songs of the 1960s that he was just a vehicle through which they came, he said he was just a pencil, and he just wrote them down. I would not necessarily equate divine spirit with the Holy Spirit but it is closely related. From a 21st century frame of mind I would not equate the two; however from a 17th century point of view I am really not sure. Heavenly muse certainly sounds like divine inspiration...Modernist (talk) 21:02, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Modernist has removed the link of "Divine spirit" to Satan [7], and Morenoosco apparently agrees [8]. So hopefully, at least that issue is resolved. Paul August 13:59, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

I've now removed this line. Paul August 21:54, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

Which parts are OR?[edit]

Morenooso has just added an OR tag to the article [9]. Which parts are considered to be OR? Paul August 19:30, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

Complete overhaul[edit]

This reads more like a Sparknotes-esque outline for high school students than an encyclopedia article. Overall, I'm shocked by how poorly organized and sketchy this article is; PL deserves better. Given the general state of disrepair this article is in, I think a nearly complete overhaul is in order, possibly using a more stable/higher quality article regarding a work of similar date and importance (one of the Shakespeare articles, perhaps?) as an organizational template and tweaking it as necessary.

Large changes that need to be made: -The "plot" and "characters" section replicate large swathes of information and seem to be lifted almost directly from a study guide. Large sections of this are irrelevant, poorly sourced, casually written, and highly subjective. At least one of the links (Lenhof 2008) is broken.

-"Context" is a vague and nearly empty category separated from "themes" and "composition" (even though the "idolatry" section, for example, is largely concerned with historically specific religious traditions). Maybe make "Context and Criticism" a larger heading, with a short introductory paragraph about Milton's general critical fortunes down to the present day, followed by subsections on "idolatry," "marriage," "Satan," "revolution," etc. and merge several sections into a separate "Sources/Composition/Date" heading (cf. the Hamlet article)?

-The heading "Publication History" has a seemingly random list/collection of 20th century editions of Milton's work, including a parody called "Paradise Illustrated" that almost certainly does not belong. This needs to either be cut entirely (why an encyclopedia article would need to provide ISBN #s for a group of editions of PL since 1990 is beyond me) or drastically expanded to cover its complete print history from 1667 onward. Perhaps the slightly-out-of-place "Iconography" section could be merged into this?

-"Cultural significance" needs to be BOTH selectively expanded and trimmed. Right now it's a hodge-podge of recent popular culture. I'm inclined to think this should remain separate from the modern criticism section.

- At least a small note needs to be added (to the header, perhaps?) about Milton's perception of PL as a national vernacular epic in the vein of Ariosto, etc. (talk) 13:33, 1 July 2010 (UTC)

I completely agree. Malleus Fatuorum 23:45, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Not necessarily disputing that, but if you know more about the poem than I do why not do it yourself? I recently did a serious overhaul of William Wallace. PatGallacher (talk) 12:25, 16 December 2011 (UTC)


As presently structured this article is an embarrassment. An article on what is generally considered to be one of the greatest works in the English language contains the vitally important information that "Gothic Metal band Paradise Lost took their name from the book", and that "Extreme Metal Band Cradle of Filth themed a section of their 2003 album, 'Damnation and a Day' on Milton's Paradise Lost". Would there be any objection to spinning off the bulk of the Trivia Cultural significance section to a Paradise Lost in popular culture article? Malleus Fatuorum 23:42, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

I concur, an epic work such as this deserves to be much longer and dense with explanation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:46, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

in the following passage:[edit]


Eve is the second human created by God, taken from one of Adam's ribs and shaped into a female form of Adam. In her innocence, she is the model of a good wife, graceful and submissive to Adam. Though happy, she longs for knowledge and, more specifically, self-knowledge. Her first act in existence is to turn away from Adam and look at and ponder her own reflection. Eve is extremely beautiful and thoroughly in love with Adam, though may feel suffocated by his constant presence. One day, she convinces Adam that it would be good for them to split up and work different parts of the Garden. In her solitude, she is tempted by Satan to sin against God. Adam shortly follows along with her.... The omission of Lilith is a sign that this artical needs serious revision (talk) 08:33, 7 December 2012 (UTC) rjt

This article is about a work of fiction. Lilith is not featured in this poem. DonQuixote (talk) 15:06, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

classical ties and ambiguity[edit]

This article does not explicitly mention the presence of echoes of classical mythology: the fact Lucifer can be interpreted as Prometheus (v. Lucifer and Prometheus) is quite important (P. Pullman's his dark materials pushes this link to the extreme). Secondly, they are often mistaken but "ambiguity" is unintentional while "equivocal" is intentinal (viz. B. Bryson's dictionary of troublesome words). -- (talk) 06:17, 5 February 2012 (UTC)