What are the epic qualities you find in paradise lost


An epic is a long narrative poem with heroic actions and written in a lofty style, set in a remote time and place. Normally, an epic poem has some definite features of its own. To prove a poem as an epic, we have to scan that poem to find out these features in it.

“Paradise Lost: Book I” as an epic:

Paradise Lost: Book I” by Milton (1608- 1674) is an epic, actually one of the popular epics in the history of literature. This immortal literary work is the outcome of Milton’s imagination and poetic genius. We know that the poem has all the characteristics of an epic. So, let’s prove those gradually-

More Notes: Paradise Lost

Invocation of Muse:

Invocation is a formal prayer to the Muses for inspiration, help, and guidance at the beginning of an epic. “Paradise Lost” begins with the typical epic invocation “Sing Heavenly Muse”. Milton first invokes the Muse and then goes further. His invocation in the poem is the first 26 lines. He calls her “Heav’nly Muse” and says that he will sing “Of Man’s First Disobedience”, the story of Adam and Eve and their fall from heaven.

Overmuch heroism:

The poem deals with the encounter between Satan and God. Satan here proves himself as a heroic figure of the poem. He represents the heroic trend of the Renaissance through him. He alone leads the group of other fallen angels with him and reigns over them in Hell. His dialogues are full of heroism. He says that to reign in the torment of Hell than be a servant in Heaven, the place of eternal peace-

“To reign is worth ambition though Hell

Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”

Grand style:

The tag of grand style has been supplemented to “Paradise Lost: Book I”: The reason behind this tag is that Milton has used the styles in this poem flawlessly. He has used lots of Latin words in this poem. There are so many complexities in his diction. He creates an environment of language and diction that is appropriate to his contemporary time.

Broad use of epic similes:

Because of the grand style, Milton uses a number of epic similes in this poem. He also displays sequences, speeches, and assembly of war.

Human nature:

The human condition in the poem is presented by Milton before and after the fall. Before the fall, both Adam and Eve were innocent and pure. The unfortunate scenario indicates that although human nature before the fall was free from sin, the capacity to sin was still there nonetheless. For example, we can draw the decision of Adam to follow Eve in eating the forbidden fruit. Though he has not been tempted by the serpent, something inside him makes him eager to join with Eve in the act of disobedience.

Unity of action:

Like the great epics of Homer and Virgil, there is a perfect unity of action in “Paradise Lost: Book- I”. As we know, a war happened between God and Satan, followed by Satan’s fall, this is only a prologue to the main action. God defeated and punished Satan. Satan promised to take revenge on God by bringing about the fall of man.

Moral lesson:

As, every epic has a moral tone, “Paradise Lost: Book- I” has also a moral message vested in it. The importance of being obedient to God is the moral theme of this epic. Satan disobeys God and creates a way of increasing sin and ruin. It also causes the fall of Adam and Eve from Heaven.


Actually, Milton deserves a round of applause and huge respect for creating such an epic like “Paradise Lost”. This epic oversteps as a classical one in its sublimity of the theme and style, in its universality, human interest, and moral tone. Milton conquests over all the poets who have written epics in both modern and ancient times in the technique of writing style.

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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