Choose one of the following topics for an essay of eight pages. You must use several scholarly secondary sources in this essay. Be sure to use enough sources to make yourself well informed on the topic you choose. Do not limit yourself to journal articles: much important scholarly work lies in books, many of which are available electronically through Pollak Library. You should use the scholarly sources as a way of enhancing your reading of the text, so strive to maintain your own independent voice—don’t lean excessively on your secondary sources. Also, avoid the common pitfall of supporting your argument by quoting only the secondary sources and not paying sufficient attention to Milton’s text.
Develop a complex thesis. Provide plenty of evidence. Explain how the evidence supports your thesis. Follow MLA formatting guidelines throughout.
- Choose a character in Paradise Lost as the focus of your analysis. Develop an argument about the role or function of the character in the poem as a whole. For major figures in the poem, you might limit your argument to a single aspect of their character. For example, you could discuss Adam as a representation of a certain kind of authority rather than try to cover every aspect of his being as represented in the text.
- Choose an idea or theme that is important to the poem and explain how it relates to the meaning of the poem as a whole. You will need to define terms carefully, and it might be useful to be very specific in your choice of topics. For example, knowledge is an important theme, but there are lots of different kinds of knowledge explored in the text. Thus, might focus on a theme such as the limits of human knowledge.
- The word “crisis” comes from a Greek word with a wide range of meanings: separation, discord, an act of choosing, a judgment, and a trial, to name just some. Choose a moment of crisis in Paradise Lost and explain how it crystallizes key issues in the poem and/or how it defines, or redefines, the characters who are engaged in the critical event.