Paradise Lost Questions and Answers
by John Milton

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In Paradise Lost, books 1, 9, and 12, what is the importance of setting?

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Setting is extremely important to Paradise Lost as a whole. The poem rests on the contrasts between the great stages of Heaven and Hell with the young Earth in between. Heaven is all light, purity and glory, but it is Hell which is more vividly described by Milton, and nowhere more so than in the first book, which memorably sets the scene for the poem's central action: the ongoing rebellion and plotting by Satan against God, which has such momentous consequences. The opening description of Hell, seen from Satan’s point of view, conjures up a strange picture:

At once as far as angels’ ken he views

The dismal situation waste and wild,

A dungeon horrible, on all sides round

As one great furnace flamed, yet from those flames

No light, but rather darkness visible

Served only to discover sights of woe …

Along with fairly straightforward references to Hell as a vast, desolate...

(The entire section contains 459 words.)

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