The style Milton used in “Paradise Lost” has righteously been stated as the grand style. The major elements of the grand style normally are: the grandeur of the perception which motivates the poem, the use of imposing words organized in splendid order, elaborate imagination, and the use of supreme literary devices which build on the greatness of the language used.
The grand style constructs a sense of loftiness, largeness, magnitude, and highness in the mind of the reader. And such a feeling originates in the reader’s mind when they read “Paradise Lost”.
The sublimity of style in the portrayal of Satan:
The way Milton describes Satan gives the whole subject dignity and sublime. Milton presents Satan by using the following words:
“He above the rest
In shape and gesture proudly eminent
Stood like a tower; his form yet not lost.” (Paradise Lost, John Milton)
This explanation involves an extraordinary picture that comprises images like tower, the sun advancing through clouds, the demolition of monarchs, and the uprising of kingdoms. In this description, we have a mixture of several sources of the sublime: the main character, Satan, is highly eminent; but a fallen in reality, but forming itself against suffering and pain. The greatness of Satan is enhanced by Milton when he identifies it with an idea that the sun is going through an eclipse. Thereby we can notice that there is a variety and difficulty of aspects blending to produce the grand style.
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Milton’s use of allusions:
Another important characteristic of Milton’s grand style is his use of allusions. Milton delves into all the gems of literature and several other fields of knowledge for his allusions. The motive of the allusions is to broaden the reader’s perception by way of comparison. In “Paradise Lost”, Milton uses the allusions of:
The wars of Gods and Giants
The Sieges of Troy and Thebes
The Battles of King Arthur
The Wars of Charlemagne
Noah and the Flood
Heavenly Muses etc.
Milton could speak many languages such as Spanish, French, Italian etc. Milton’s collection of allusions is so vast that a sense of wholeness and magnitude is created which passes ahead of the necessaries of mere description.
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Latin influence in Milton’s writing:
Milton writes in an excessively exalted and condensed style. His writing style can be best described as Latinate. He used the characteristics of the Latin language in his writing. Milton, who was highly influenced by the classical language, endeavors to follow Virgil’s approach, specifically in excluding words by employing a strange word order. Milton frequently affixes verbs in an unexpected position and often uses words in their older sense.
The contribution of simile in Milton’s grand style:
Another feature of Milton’s writing is his use of simile. Simile means the comparison or juxtaposition of two unlike things usually by using words “as” and “like”. Milton’s simile is not limited to just a couple of lines but his similes are very extensive. We can see the example of Milton’s extended simile when Milton describes Satan’s climbing up in hell after having been thrown there from heaven by God. Satan came down onto the land of hell that is in the first place compared to a burning land. But after a few lines Milton compared hell with a hill divided by a volcano. In another such example, angels were compared to the locust. Locust is a type of insect that comes in a flock. This comparison of angles and locusts is very important because the locusts are considered to be the carrier of calamity so this comparison works to convey the vicious nature of the fallen angels. Milton’s extended similes provide greatness to the writing that not only amplifies our feelings but also shows the richness of the subject-matter.
Use of Blank Verse:
Another important characteristic of Milton’s poetic style is his use of blank verse. Like Shakespeare, Milton was also adept in using blank verse. By choosing blank verse, he advanced to build it a kind of verse previously unfamiliar, perfectly fitted to the grandness of his subject. The distinct feature of this blank verse is the length and complexity or contortion of the period. The meaning is kept postponed through several lines and when the period ends, this postponed meaning or sense comes down upon the mind of the reader like a heavy ball. Sentence formation, choice of words, rhythm, and poetic imagery, all blend closely to produce Milton’s sublime thought. Since the meaning is postponed through many lines, we have the continuation of rhythm which is one of the important attributes of his blank verse.
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The style that Milton uses in his epic poem “Paradise Lost” is unquestionably his very own. Some elements of his writing can be censured but with regards to his achievement in “Paradise Lost”, it is hard to imagine how such a poem could be better penned in some different style. So, in the end, we can say that Milton has defined the way an epic should be written, and with him, in the truest sense, the English epic ends.
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