How does Milton create the elevated, epic style that gives Paradise Lost its power?

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susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Milton's Paradise Lost's epic style results from several techniques:

(1) Milton uses an unconventional syntax and lengthy sentences, making his lines difficult to read.  But in so doing, he engages the reader in the text.

(2) Biblical and classical allusions that lend formality to the lines.

(3) Powerful lines that are easy to remember because of their alliteration, assonance, and parallel structure:

"Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven."


"The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a Heaven of Hell or a Hell of Heaven."

(4) The creation of such a fascinating character as Satan, who in his pride and unconquerable will, provides a riveting antagonist:


"What though the field be lost?

All is not lost; the unconquerable will,

And study of revenge, immortal hate,

And courage never to submit or yield:

And what is else not to be overcome?"

(5) Imagery that creates indelible impressions on the reader:

Him the Almighty Power

Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky

With hideous ruin and combustion down

To bottomless perdition . . .



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Paradise Lost

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