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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. 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.
    • The preambles of Satan's revolt are not shown on page but narrated by Archangel Raphael to Adam. It is entirely possible to believe Raphael is an Unreliable Narrator who is giving a slanted version of the facts, given that its portrayal of them is sometimes weird when it comes to their motivations and personalities. In his narration, it takes over a minute for Satan to switch from being politely discontent with God's politics (reasonably justified, to some degree, by God's favoritism towards the Son) to ferociously declaring open war with the goal to dethrone Him (a leap intuitive if one knows how the story ends, but abrupt and shocking as it is told), when nothing had evidenced this desire on him in the first place. The rebel angels are also portrayed as gullible, one-dimensional villains, as they barely need to be encouraged by Satan to rebel against God (except a single angel, Abdiel, who stays at God's side), in contrast to the opening chapters on the book where they are shown to have a realistically diverse mass of opinions.
  • "Common Knowledge": There's a popular misconception (generally among people who haven't read the book or learned that much about it) that the epic depicts Satan as a good guy. While he is sympathetic at times, he's not depicted as a hero (at least, not intentionally). He's a hypocritical, petty, vindictive, incestuous Villain Protagonist.
  • 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 Cool: The poem's iteration of Satan is one of the most iconic examples in fiction due to his charisma and skill with words, to the point where many have argued Milton may have subconsciously been Rooting for the Empire.
  • 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.
  • 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: In casting Satan with the tropes of a tragic hero, John Milton clearly intended the character to be sympathetic in his fall from grace. However, Milton obviously didn't expect some readers to see Satan as "the real hero" of the story. In spite of all the text explaining Satan's errors, his Nay-Theist and rebellious statements just hit too close to some readers' beliefs to see him as anything but a hero.
  • 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 


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