Paradise Lost and the Fall From Grace: A closer look at the redemption poetry of the 17th century.

When it comes to 17th-century literature, redemption poetry was one of the most important phases. Before the Romantic era of literature began towards the end of the 18th century when religion took a back seat and individualism became more significant, people firmly believed or were rather conditioned to believe in salvation through faith. In the first half of the 17th century or rather the Jacobean era of England, the Church held at most power and the dispute between the Protestant and the Catholic faith was at its peak. It is also notable to understand that religion and faith were the most important factors of this time period to the extent that it was reflected in its literature. 

With that in tow, poets like Geroge Herbert, John Dunne, and John Milton wrote about redemption and the journey of seeking the absolute which is God. Though their opinions expressed through their poetry differed, the context in which their poetry flourished was faith. It is absurd to ignore the presence of Geroge Herbet’s Redemption and Milton’s Paradise Lost when discussing the literature of the 17th century. 

Milton’s Paradise Lost is considered to be his masterpiece. Published in two editions, the book of poems deals with the biblical story of the fall of grace of Adam and Eve, the first people of humankind. Milton’s poems serve as the medium through which we get a better look into how the people of Jacobean age were exposed to religion and how literature serves as a record of its history. 

The Fall from grace or rather the Fall of Adam denotes the sin he had committed when in the garden of Eden and how God had sent Adam and Eve to the earth, forbidding them to enter heaven for the sin they had committed. This is the result of Satan, also known as Lucifer and his revenge against God through Adam and Eve. This is a very brief outline of what Milton proposes to us through his poetry but there is more to it. 

One of the most important messages that is expressed through the book is the need to obey God. TIme and again, the story goes back to how Adam and Eve had disobeyed God resulting in their punishment. Satan being cursed to turn into a snake also stresses on the concept of punishment. The idea that deflecting from the path of God will lead to punishment is the primary message that seems to take an upper hand. The concept of choosing a path is also dealt with in this area. While Satan chooses to keep committing sins, Adam and Eve choose to repent. This goes on to show that poetry was used as a means to commute the ideals of religion to people. 

There is also another most prominent theme that deals with how this fall of Adam or the fall from grace proved to be a good thing after all. It is seen that only because of the sin committed by Adam and Eve do people get to live on earth today. It is also seen as a way in which people are exposed to the love and mercy of God. Despite being slightly surprising as to how disobedience can be perceived as something good, this idea of experiencing the love of God by existing on earth is a highly spiritual thought that has been ingrained in the minds of people. 

The clear hierarchy between the creation of God is yet another major portion that Milton’s poems deal with. This hierarchy that God is above all and then follows the son of God followed by the angels and then the humans place God on a higher pedestal emphasizing the idea that God is the supreme being and that humans are at the bottom of it. In order to reach God, you have to be religious and spiritually inclined. These were the ideas that existed during this period of time. The hierarchy also has a function of differentiating the realm of the divine from that of the humans. 

Paradise Lost is the poetic version of the bible’s story, ‘The fall of Adam’. The book not only sets the ground for what happened during the 17th century but also shows us how certain values were held higher than others. It is important to note that during this period people were deprived of their rights over individuality. They were conditioned to be the servants of God rather than themselves. But we see Milton celebrating this servanthood in many of his other poems. The entire book in a sentence would be that it strives to show how religion and spirituality play a huge role in shaping individuals for what they are.

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