Paradise Lost in popular culture

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Paradise Lost has had a profound impact on writers, artists and illustrators, and, in the twentieth century, filmmakers.

In literature[edit]

The cover to the 2017 book Essays in Anarchism and Religion features Paradise Lost engravings by Gustave Doré
  • In addition to printing an illustrated edition of the poem,[1] much of the mystic poetry of William Blake is a direct response to or rewriting of Paradise Lost. Blake emphasized the rebellious, satanic elements of the epic; the repressive character Urizen in the Four Zoas is a tyrannical version of Milton's God. In addition to his famous quip in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell about Milton belonging to the devil's party, Blake wrote Milton: a Poem which has Milton, like Satan, rejecting a life in Heaven.
  • Paradise Lost influenced Mary Shelley when she wrote her novel Frankenstein, in the 1810s; she included a quotation from book X on the title page, and it is one of three books Frankenstein's monster finds which influences his psychological growth.
  • Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley specifically notes in the preface to his lyrical drama Prometheus Unbound that he constructed his character Prometheus in part as an attempt to revise Milton's Satan.
  • In C. S. Lewis' novel The Great Divorce the narrator meets writer George MacDonald in heaven, who uses the quote "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav'n" as answer to the narrators questions about heaven and hell.
  • John Steinbeck's novel In Dubious Battle takes its title from "Paradise Lost".
  • In his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie adapts major motifs and plot elements from Paradise Lost, such as a "fall" and subsequent transformation.
  • The epic was also one of the prime inspirations for Philip Pullman's trilogy of novels His Dark Materials (itself a quotation from Book II of Paradise Lost). In Pullman's introduction, he modifies Blake's line to quip that he himself "is of the Devil's party and does know it."
  • Libba Bray uses a quote from Paradise Lost to name the second book of her trilogy, Rebel Angels quoting from it "To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav'n."
  • In his Sandman comics/graphic novels series, Neil Gaiman uses Lucifer as a character, most notably in the Season of Mists arc/collection, and makes reference to the poem, having Lucifer openly quote Milton.
  • In 1994, American author Joseph Lanzara wrote Paradise Lost: The Novel based upon the epic poem.

In music[edit]

  • Milton's Paradise Lost was, apart from straight quotations of biblical texts, the basis on which the libretto for Joseph Haydn's oratorio Die Schöpfung (The Creation) was built, by, among others, Baron van Swieten.
  • In the late 1970s, the Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki wrote an opera based on Paradise Lost.
  • The American choral and orchestral composer Eric Whitacre composed an "Electronica Opera" entitled 'Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings,[2] inspired by this text.
  • A musical adaptation of Paradise Lost was written by Ben Birney and Rob Seitelman and was performed in New York City in March 2006. This sung-through musical augmented the main story of Paradise Lost with the addition of the character 'Sophia' who represented the feminine divine. It explored her relationship to the events of the Milton poem and offered explanation as to her virtual elimination from Canonic text.
  • The British metal band Cradle of Filth was inspired by Paradise Lost and wrote the concept album Damnation and a Day which takes place over the fall and eventual rise of Lucifer.
  • British metal and dark rock band, Paradise Lost, takes its name directly from the poem's title.
  • Norwegian metal band Dimmu Borgir quote Paradise Lost in the song "Architecture of a Genocidal Nature" in their album Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, released in 2001.
  • North American progressive metal band Symphony X's 2007 album (and track #5 within) is named Paradise Lost and is themed after it.
  • The Swedish metal band Morgana Lefay's song Paradise Lost from their album The Secret Doctrine is based upon the poem.
  • The Austrian/French gothic band Elend's Officium Tenebrarum trilogy is based upon Paradise Lost.
  • Australian underground progressive metal band Saeturnum wrote their song Eruption based around the fall of Lucifer and the temptation of man, heavily inspired by Milton's Paradise Lost.
  • German power metal band Blind Guardian based the song Control the Divine from the album At the Edge of Time on the poem.
  • The band Hollywood Undead based a song on the poem, their song S.C.A.V.A also appears to be based on the poem.
  • Dr Chair's 2001 album Witter and Beard has a track entitled Paradise Lost.
  • Nick Cave's songs Song of Joy and Red Right Hand, mention Paradise Lost and quotes from it.
  • In the aptly named Paradise Lost album by Cirith Ungol, the last three songs (Chaos Rising, Fallen Idols and Paradise Lost) are about the poem.
  • Rap Artist Eminem used pictures and transcripts from Paradise Lost in his music video for Rap God[3]
  • The opening six songs from Glenn Danzig's classical album Black Aria act as a soundtrack to Paradise Lost.
  • Heavy metal band Carnal Agony based their tracks "Rebel's Lament" and "Rebellion" from the album "Preludes & Nocturnes" on the poem.
  • "Paradise Lost (You’re the Reason Why)" is a song on the 2002 album Cammell Laird Social Club by the band Half Man Half Biscuit. It is self-quoted in the song "Lord Hereford's Knob" on their 2008 album CSI:Ambleside.
  • 'The Argument' by Grant Hart released in 2013 based on the poem.
  • Paradise Lost serves as inspiration for the lyrical content of David Gilmour's latest solo album, Rattle That Lock (2015). The deluxe edition of the album even comes with a hardback 48-page copy of Book II of the poem.
  • The song "Paradise Lost" by Korean singer Gain is heavily influenced by the epic poem.The music video also depicts the singer as Eve and the Korean version of Eve, Hawwah, as well as the Snake. There is a contemporary dance depicting the snake also present in the video.[4]
  • In red hot chili peppers' music video otherside the video references lucifers fall from the heavens[5]
  • The 10cc song The Dean and I mentions the title in the lyrics.

In art[edit]

  • UC San Diego's famous "snake path" (part of the Stuart Art Collection) was inspired by Paradise Lost. Leading from the university's library, the path symbolizes the conflict between innocence and knowledge.[6]
  • Graba' made a cycle of 19 jewels "Paradise Lost" in 2007 exhibited in the Harmagedon Gallery in Courtrai.

In film[edit]

  • The film The Devil's Advocate makes references to the poem and its author. For example, the main antagonist, John Milton, is named after the author, and in the finale of the film the main protagonist, Kevin Lomax makes a quotation: "It's better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven".
  • The first book of the Philip Pullman's trilogy of novels His Dark Materials, Northern Lights has been made into a film. But most of the Christian symbols of the books have been stripped, thus the inspiration from Paradise Lost has become less pronounced.
  • Paradise Lost is referenced in a scene from the film Animal House, when Professor Jennings vainly attempts to interest his freshman English class in the themes of the poem, particularly those involving Satan. Not only does his class express no interest in either the poem or what the professor has to say about it, but in an ironical moment, the professor himself admits that he finds Milton agonizing to read as well as to teach, which complements his admission later in the film that he is only in the teaching business "to make ends meet until (he) can finish his novel."
  • In the 1995 film Se7en, Detective Somerset, the more cerebral of the two protagonist detectives, suspects that Paradise Lost and other works of the early medieval Canon may have inspired the murders that are the centerpiece of the film's plot.
  • The film Kamen Rider 555: Paradise Lost references the poem by having Faiz being a savior, who will come back to life and bring peace to the world.
  • T-Bird, a character from the 1994 thriller film The Crow reads the line from an actual antique copy of the book, "Abashed the devil stood, and felt how awful goodness is."
  • Paradise Lost was scheduled to be made into an action film in 2012, directed by Alex Proyas and slated for release sometime in 2013. Bradley Cooper was cast as Lucifer in July, 2011[7] and Benjamin Walker was cast as Michael in August.[8] Djimon Hounsou joined the cast as Abdiel[9] and Casey Affleck as Gabriel.[10] Filming was originally scheduled to shoot in Sydney, Australia in January 2012,[11] but production was put on hold in December 2011.[12][13] The film however was scrapped in early February 2012.[14]
  • In the 2000 film Animal Factory, Willem Dafoe's character Earl quotes Satan, saying "This is my prison, after all." The last line of the film is "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven, right?"
  • In April Fool's Day (1986 film), Deborah Goodrich's character is introduced while she is reading Paradise Lost. She laments that it is largely unread by most people in contemporary times.
  • Ridley Scott's 2017 film Alien: Covenant was previously titled Alien: Paradise Lost.[15]

In theatre[edit]

"Paradise Lost" was adapted for the stage by The Vista Hills Theatre Troupe and performed as a two-act play, November 11 and 12, 2011, in El Paso, Texas.[16]

"Paradise Lost" was adapted into a musical by Sight and Sound Theaters in 2007 - 2008. The show combines elements from both Genesis (the creation of the world as well as man, the betrayal from God and Adam & Eve's Exile, and the entirety of Cain and Abel) and Paradise Lost, as well as original ideas.[17]

In video games[edit]

  • In 1991, "Paradise Lost" was adapted as an arcade video game for the Amiga computers. It was developed and commercially released by Silicon Twins in Turkey.[18][19]
  • The line, "It Is Better To Reign In Hell Than To Serve In Heaven" was quoted in one of three possible endings in the philosophically inclined game Deus Ex. The use of the quote signifies the player's decision was to rule the world with the Illuminati in one possible ending.
  • In Sam & Max Hit the Road, Sam will quote the line "It is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven" when observing the scenery in the Tunnel of Love. Max follows up his quote with the line "Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens", the chorus from the Talking Heads song "Heaven".
  • The subtitle of Mega Man X8 is Paradise Lost, and the story of the game has elements of the Christian religion.
  • In Fallout 3, the player character can actually read Paradise Lost, which results in a permanent Speech skill bonus. In addition, several excerpts can be found on a computer terminal in Underworld.
  • In Darksiders, the phrase "Would you serve in Heaven, or rule in Hell?" is mentioned, symbolizing the decision that Abbadon, and later War, make. These two are direct opposites, with Abbadon choosing to betray Heaven in favor of Hell.
  • In Dota 2 the hero Doom Bringer's backstory involved him being cast out of the realm beyond light; the place where he crashed in the desert was called "Paradise Lost".
  • In the game Marvel: Avengers Alliance the characters named Beast and Pestilence have an ability called Paradise Lost.
  • In Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, the main antagonist quotes "It is better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven" before the final confrontation. Paradise Lost is also mentioned as one of the books owned by a devil-worshiping mob boss in the first game.
  • In "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots" there is a group called the Paradise Lost Army.
  • In The Talos Principle the player interacts with a character named Milton, exploring philosophical issues regarding consciousness and existence via dialog trees that are accessed through computer terminals, which also contain excerpts of Milton's Paradise Lost.
  • In Granblue Fantasy, Lucifer can be summoned to attack with a skill called Paradise Lost.

In TV[edit]

  • In the Star Trek episode "Space Seed" (1967) the character Khan alludes to Paradise Lost when he is exiled to a primitive planet, implying he would rather rule there than accommodate himself to Captain Kirk's society. Khan asks Kirk if he has read Milton. Kirk nods and says "Yes. I understand." After the exchange, Mr. Scott says "It's a shame for a good Scotsman to admit it, but I'm not up on Milton." Kirk explains that Khan referred to "The statement Lucifer made when he fell into the pit: 'It is better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.'" (Mr. Scott need not have admitted to "shame", however, as Milton was English, not Scottish.)
  • Inspector Morse, Season 4, Episode 1, "The Infernal Serpent", ends with Morse to Lewis: "The infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile, stirred up with Envy and Revenge, deceived The Mother of Mankind. Milton, Lewis. Paradise Lost."
  • Paradise Lost comes into play in the third season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with strong references to the book including an episode named after it.


  1. ^ "Illustrations to Milton's "Paradise Lost"". William Blake Archive. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Paradise Lost - The Opera". Archived from the original on 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  3. ^ "Eminem - Rap God (Explicit)". YouTube. 2013-11-27. Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  4. ^ "[MV] GAIN(가인) _ Paradise Lost". YouTube. 2015-03-11. Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  5. ^ "Red Hot Chili Peppers - Otherside [Official Music Video". YouTube. 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  6. ^ "The Stuart Collection". Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  7. ^ "Bradley Cooper to play Satan in 'Paradise Lost'". Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Benjamin Walker to Play the Archangel Michael in ‘Paradise Lost’". Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Djimon Hounsou joins Bradley Cooper in 'Paradise Lost'". Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Casey Affleck Joins Paradise Lost". Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Paradise Lost to be filmed in Sydney". Retrieved November 10, 2011. 
  12. ^ Fleming, Mike (2011-12-12). "STUNNER! Legendary Pictures Postpones January Start Of Alex Proyas-Directed 'Paradise Lost'". Deadline. Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  13. ^ James White (2015-10-09). "Paradise Lost Put On Hold | News | Movies - Empire". gb. Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  15. ^ Perez, Rodrigo. "Ridley Scott Says ‘Alien: Paradise Lost’ Will Now Be Called ‘Alien: Covenant’ | IndieWire". Retrieved 2017-07-16. 
  16. ^ "Home | West Texas – El Paso, Las Cruces, Juarez | ElPasoProud". Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-09. Retrieved 2016-06-29. 
  18. ^ "Paradise Lost : Hall Of Light – The database of Amiga games". Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  19. ^ "Paradise Lost (Amiga) - OpenRetro Game Database". Retrieved 2017-05-07.