Milton’s Design (Daily Question for 11/10)

Book 2 of The Paradise Lost was when the story of the book clicked for me. With my super basic understanding of the bible, it was cool to see how Milton was able to incorporate the literal plot of the bible, in his story. It reminds me of The Song of Achilles being a prequel to the Iliad (Although Milton did do it first). One thing that stood out to me in this book was the descriptions of Sin and Death. 

The one seem’d Woman to the waste, and fair,/ But ended foul in many a scaly fould/ Voluminous and vast, a Serpent arm’d/ With mortal sting: about her middle round/ A cry of Hell Hounds never ceasing bark’d/ With wide Cerberian mouths full loud, and rung” 

(Lines 650-655)


The other shape,/ If shape it might be call’d that shape had none/ Distinguishable in member, joynt, or limb,/ Or substance might be call’d that shadow seem’d,/ For each seem’d either; black it stood as Night,/ Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,/ And shook a dreadful Dart; what seem’d his head/ The likeness of a Kingly Crown had on.

 (Lines 666-673)

These descriptions of the guardians of the gates of Hell are not only extremely cool and creative, at least to me, but they also seem deliberate. Their designs are just unique and structured enough for me to believe that Milton wrote them this way to serve a purpose. Does Milton’s description of Sin and Death serve a symbolic purpose, or is it just a unique design? I would be interested in hearing classmate’s opinions on this question.

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