Milton Grand Style In Paradise Lost | Milton Grand Style

        In the matter of style Milton has followed Homer and Virgil and the Bible. Perhaps from Homer he has learnt to add rhythm and music in language. Of course his word order is responsible for the loftiness of his style. But more than that, the sonority ( Having the character of a loud deep sound ) and dignity of his words help him to achieve his effect. In the word of T.S. Eliot, Milton’s ability to add music to words is the clinching evidence of his mastery.

Milton Grand Style In Paradise Lost

    T. S. Eliot also comments on Milton’s ability to give a perfect pattern to every paragraph so that the  full beauty of the line is found in its context. This is evident in the opening lines of the poem ;

                            “Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit

                               Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste

                                Brought death into the World, and all ourwoe,

                                With loss of Eden, till one greater Man

                                Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,

                                        Sing, Heavenly Muse,”

    We notice that Milton allows the meaning to evolve out of the sentence only after the 39th word when hr uses the verb ‘sing‘. By withholding ( keeping back ) the verb he increases the importance of the poem’s subject aswell as the corresponding magnitude of his task as an epic poet.

    We also notice that Milton can also compress his feelings. He can throttle ( choke ) the surge ( rush ) of feelings we needed. This comes out through Satan’s speech to Beelzebub;

                            “Better to reign in Hell that serve in Heaven.”

Milton Grand Style
Milton Grand Style


    Another aspect of Milton’s grand style is his ability to bring ancient metaphors back to life. This is brought out in Milton’s use of the word ‘glory‘ while describing the degeneration (decline) of the transcendent ( Exceeding or surpassing usual limits especially in excellence ) brightness of Satan: 

                            “….. His from had yet not lost

                            All her original brightness nor appear’d

                            Less than archangel ruined, and th’ access

                                    Of glory obscur’d”,

    Milton’s lofty style ha salso forced him to avoid familiar realistic details. This style has ruled out everything having a man or vulgar association. He deliberately creates an effect of vagueness where concrete details would be out of place. This Vagueness is created by such as “the vast abrupt”, “the palpable obscure”, “the void immense”the “wasteful deep”.

    The style of Paradise Lost is also characterized by the use of alliteration which can also the suggestive statements. Expressions like ‘rebellious rout’, ‘heaven high’ show the grandness of Miltons,s composition and his avoidance of the commonplace.

    Milton’s style also helps him to play the literal against the abstract:

                                “…. nor ever thence

                          Had ris’n or heav’d his head, but that the will

                          And high permission of all-rulling heaven”

    This kind of sentence structure can obscure and at the same time clarify the meaning contained therein. It can also suggest a hyperbolic beauty that is can be used in epic and yet can be indecorous if stated as facts.

    An essential quality of Milton’s poetic style is its use of allusions. Here he has used all that he observed in life and nature; but his vision is often coloured by his knowledge of the whole treasury of poetry — ancient and modern. So he loaded his verse with myth and legend, historical, literary, and scientific factClassical and Biblical allusions are most abundant, and woven into the texture of his language.

    A striking feature of Milton’s style in Paradise Lost is his use of epic similies. These go far beyond the limits of comparison, and are expanded to draw compelete picture. Satan’s huges bulk is compared to the huge Leviathan, who may be mistaken for an island. Milton uses these expanded similies to ennoble his narrative and not merely illustrate it.

    By all these devices he created a style that is unmatched in English literature.


Read Also:

Leave a Comment