Examine Paradise Lost as a Renaissance epic.

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Milton's epic shares many of the conventions of earlier epics, such as those by Homer and Virgil. Though Milton wrote in English rather than in a classical language such as Latin or Greek, Paradise Lost, like the earlier epics, starts in medias res (in the middle of the action) and concerns itself with the interaction between gods and mortals. In addition, the poem shares literary conventions with earlier epics, including catalogues of places and names and epic similes, and shares the themes of earlier epics, including nationalism and providing explanations of origins.

Paradise Lost is a Renaissance epic because it puts humans, in the form of Adam and Eve, at the center of the story. The core idea of the Renaissance was humanism and the potential of humans for greatness and for creativity. Though Adam and Eve have fallen from their state of grace and must leave Paradise after they fall prey to Satan's temptations, it is clear that they will eventually produce greatness in the form of Jesus, their descendant. It is they, not Satan, whom many people consider the heroes of the story, and Milton emphasizes their capacity for greatness on their own terms rather than simply as the creations of God.

nanthinii-mohan | Student

Milton can rightly be called as the child of Renaissance.  And undoubtedly Paradise Lost is the product of Rennaissance in every means of learning, literature and philosophy.  The main characteristics of a Rennaissance in a work of art are the echoes of romance, chivalry, pastoral music and dance.  Milton(though a puritan) dwells upon his love of Pagan learning by providing references and allusions in almost all his narrative and descriptive passages in Paradise Lost.

The description of Eden for example, is rich in the beauty of the medieval world. This could even be seen in the Book IV of Paradise Lost in the description of Adam and Eve.

Another Renaissance element in the Epic is Humanism.  As the creation of mankind is found to be superior in Milton, he provides him with his doctrine of "free will"(through Satan in the Epic)in Paradise Lost.  The part of regarding man as man, retaining his own dignity and worth is too can be noted through Satan from his indomitable spirit of free will.  Independence, thirst for knowledge, adventures are the only goal of a Renaissance man and the same spirit is expressed through Satan. Thus we could positively regard Paradise Lost as an Renaissance Epic.