Humanism in John Milton's Paradise Lost

2072 Words Sep 16th, 2008 9 Pages
Humanism as the specific system of views had been forming for centuries, absorbing various approaches to the issue of man. As a rule, humanism is defined in terms of several essential meanings. One of these meanings of humanism is the movement of educated people united by the interest in antiquity which was formed in the Renaissance mainly in Italy. Besides, humanism is understood as a special type of philosophical ideology, in the centre of which there is man as an individual with his goals and aspirations, with abilities and inclinations that are typical of his nature. Another meaning of humanism is humanity as a basic principle of man’s attitude to man. Humanism during the Renaissance, despite its opposition to medieval religious …show more content…
In ‘Paradise Lost’, the pastoral takes the central place, several chapters in the middle of the poem. In Milton’s Paradise, familiar pastoral motives of harmony of man and nature, leisure and labour in the open air, innocent love of the main characters are elevated because everything there is the result of the harmonious unity of all the creatures and their direct communication with God, the ideal which was lost forever after man’s Fall. It is important to pay attention that Milton describes paradisiacal bliss which became out of man’s reach due to original sin with the eyes of the fallen angel Satan, who also can observe this felicity only from aside, who ‘saw, undelighted, all delight’. Adam and Eve, seen by envious Satan, clearly embody religiously humanistic ideals:
‘And worthy seemed; for in their looks divine
The image of their glorious Maker shone,
Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure,
(Severe, but in true filial freedom placed)...’

Adam and Eve live in perfect freedom which agrees with the will of God. Vice is alien to them. They both are physically beautiful and ‘In naked majesty seemed lords of all’. Milton reveals the first humans as fully real natural creatures and at the same time as half-allegorical figures which personify man’s and women’s origin in human:
‘For contemplation he and valour formed;
For softness she and sweet attractive grace;
He for God
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