30 October, 2002

Milton's Paradise Lost

The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n. What matter where, if I be still the same, And wht I should be, all but less than hee Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least We shall be free; the'Almighty hath not built Here for his envy, will not drive us hence; Here we may reign secure, and in my choice To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n.

Wow. All I can say is wow. I respect Shakespeare, but Milton has got him beat. In case you haven't read Paradise Lost, in the quotation above, Satan is rallying his men, fellow devils that are fallen angels. They are ready to give up, and Satan acts as the Hero, giving them courage and getting them ready for the acts to come. Satan reminds me of Hal, the heroic Prince in Shakespeare's Henry IV, and the one good king in Henry V.

Whereas Shakespeare wrote for the common man, Milton writes far beyond it. Milton writes in ways I hadn't considered possible before... and I love it. I love how every line is a reference to stories of old... I love how every line is in blank verse... I love how it sounds when I read it aloud and I think on what it says... I love it all. Milton writes beautifully.

However, I have yet to cry, even at the sad scenes, simply because I am not Christian. I can see where if a Christian were to read this book, then it would be a hundred times better, simply because of the obvious parallels made between Jesus and Satan, and even Sin and Eve. If I believed in the bible, then this book would really rock my world... ...but I don't. I don't believe, and so the emotions Milton causes me to feel are not nearly as intense as they could be.

It is too bad Milton wrote nothing but religious and political crap. Not that it's crap -- as I said before, I love the way Milton writes -- but the points he makes just don't cause me to reel like they would to a Christian. I don't gasp when he shows how much more heroic Satan had to have been than Jesus. It doesn't bother me that Hell is more full of intellectuals than Heaven is. Sometimes, he will write a line and it is so obvious that this is a great line to him; it is almost as though he worked up through dozens of paragraphs just for that one line... and yet the line says nothing that interests me all that much.

It really is too bad... I intend on researching to see if he ever wrote anything philosophical in nature, apart from religion. If so, then I'll be sure to read it. (c;

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