What is Milton's style and its features?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is a huge question so I will focus on some of the important characteristics of Milton's style. First, yes, it is an epic poem, and Milton follows the traditional epic form, giving the reader war and love, the supernatural, the descent into hell, a catalogue of warriors. Yet that tells us little about its style. Milton's style is dense, Baroque, packed with similes and metaphors, complex sentences, and overflowing with rich descriptions and images. It is the opposite of stark. It is the opposite of modest. Instead, Milton struts his stuff, including his skill with language, his unabashed exuberance and sense of the importance of his subject, and his immense knowledge.

The poem is extraordinarily allusive. That means it references a vast number of other literary works. Milton was enormously well read and he weaves his knowledge into the rich stylistic tapestry of this grand work. 

Let's look at just one passage, in book 1, lines 65-83:

Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace [65]

And rest can never dwell, hope never comes

That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery Deluge, fed
With ever-burning Sulphur unconsum'd:
Such place Eternal Justice had prepar'd [70]
For those rebellious, here thir Prison ordain'd
In utter darkness, and thir portion set
As far remov'd from God and light of Heav'n
As from the Center thrice to th' utmost Pole.
O how unlike the place from whence they fell! [75]
There the companions of his fall, o'rewhelm'd
With Floods and Whirlwinds of tempestuous fire,
He soon discerns, and weltring by his side
One next himself in power, and next in crime,
Long after known in Palestine, and nam'd [80]
Beelzebub. To whom th' Arch-Enemy,
And thence in Heav'n call'd Satan, with bold words
Breaking the horrid silence thus began.

Milton describes hell,...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 595 words.)

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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kc4u | Student

Milton's style is superbly grand, elevated and eloquent. While discussing Milton's style, focus on these aspects:

1. His use of the blank-verse & blank -verse paragraphs;

2. His use of long periodic sentences;

3. His vocabulary: Latinised words & phrases, sonorous place-names & proper names;

4. His use of epic similes;

5. His narrative artistry;

6. His digressions meant for narrative padding.

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