YMMV / Paradise Lost

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Paradise Lost by John Milton
    YMMV items associated with the epic 
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: It's well-known as a source for mountains of literary criticism and a host of Alternative Character Interpretations. Many think the poem makes a better case for Satan than God. William Blake famously wrote that, "The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils and Hell, is because he was a true poet and of the Devils' party without knowing it." Most critics acknowledge that this was not Milton's intent, but some assert that his intent isn't the point. Other critics assert that this is the point; the author intended to subvert Misaimed Fandom by making the reader sympathetic to Satan in the opening part, but then surprising the reader by finding out that Satan was lying and is evil all along in the later parts. By this argument, the reader re-enacts the Fall by reading the work. The multitude of different ways to read it are undoubtedly part of the appeal for scholars and literature buffs alike — it helps that this opens limitless doors for reasonable argument. They could read the sequel but speculation is more fun.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Satan's conflicted, stirring speeches and soliloquies are some of the best writing on the book, causing him to have a legion of fans. William Blake was probably the first to suggest that Milton was subconsciously on his side, and Satan has developed one of the most loyal Alternative Character Interpretations in literature.
  • Evil is Sexy: Lucifer is indeed the most beautiful of all the angels, and even as Satan possesses a great deal of charisma and a seductive, salacious tongue.
  • First Installment Wins: Paradise Regained, the sequel, is about the Devil's temptation of Christ. It's shorter and not nearly as popular or critically acclaimed.
  • Funny Moment: Following Adam's & Eve's celebratory sex after eating the fruit, Adam blames Eve for their current predicament, and they end up not speaking to each other for the rest of the day.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Subverted by Satan, who seems this way to his minions, as well as the reader for some of the early parts of the story, until he starts admitting his shortcomings to himself in the later chapters.
    • God is perhaps a more straight example, as Satan finds out over the course of the epic: all of his scheming went according to plan for God, proving that as the omniscient creator of the universe, God simply is more magnificent.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Satan has one of the most loyal.
  • Moment of Awesome: Gabriel facing down Satan in the garden, Michael cutting Satan's legs off, the angels responding to the rebels' war machine by dropping a mountain on it, Abdiel's "Kirk Summation" speech in Book 5, and finally, the Son smiting all of Satan's forces single-handedly, causing the demons to throw themselves into Hell.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Satan gave birth to Sin out of his head; she was, at least to Satan, beautiful enough to have sex with; after they were all thrown into Hell, she gave birth to Satan's child, Death; he, in turn, ran after and raped his mother; the resulting birth tore up Sin's lower parts so badly that her legs are now a snaky tail, which is not surprising because the babies were all Hell Hounds. The beasts continually chase around her, barking and snapping at each other, and regularly crawl back into her womb, gnawing on her intestines from the inside, then claw their way back out.
  • Squick: Satan gets his daughter pregnant, and then their son rapes her. The resulting children, Hell Hounds, crawl back inside her when approached, gnawing at her entrails from inside.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Satan argues against God by invoking democracy, free speech and egalitarianism, casting God's authority in the light of a dictatorship. This subject matter hit close to home for Milton, who was an outspoken critic of earthly censorship and autocracy.
  • Tear Jerker: The Bittersweet Ending.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: John Milton seemed to intend people to have this reaction, then realize their error. Since the poem starts off from his viewpoint, Satan comes across as more of a Designated Villain than an actual bad guy. However, as the poem progresses, the reader is shown the story from the point of view of the angels and God, and it becomes clear that Satan is rationalizing his behavior just like humans tend to do. The reader is supposed to sympathize with Satan, but they are not supposed to realize why they are doing so until God (literally) tells them why he is wrong. However, because of the eloquence of his passionate arguments, even many who have read the work miss the point, and so believe that Satan is in fact the hero of the story, making this a straight trope. This may be a case of Values Dissonance mixed with Cool People Rebel Against Authority.
  • Values Dissonance: "What?" you say. "Seventeenth century religious fiction features Values Dissonance? No way!" Milton's portrayal of Eve is certainly a product of its time, yet also Fair for Its Day.
    • When it was first published, the notion of Adam and Eve having sex before tasting the fruit was nearly unheard of, resulting in an in-universe rationalization that sex itself is not evil. After they eat the fruit, they have lustful sex, which Milton argues is the true sinful nature of the act.
  • Word of Dante: If there's a portrayal of Hell and/or Satan in fiction that isn't based on The Divine Comedy, then it's likely taking cues from Paradise Lost. The same goes for Heaven (Milton likely canonized the idea of angels playing harps).

The Heavy Metal band Paradise Lost
    YMMV items associated with this band