Paradise Lost

Does Homer's Achilles Improve On Acquaintance As You Read More of the Poem Whilst Milton's Satan Gets Worse?

There is a minor ambiguity in this title, which must be clarified for the purposes of this essay. The emphasis on an impression of the characters changing as you read more of the poem, may indicate the effect on a reader's initial interpretation of the narrative. Initial reading of the Iliad and Paradise Lost is unlikely to reveal the subtleties of character development, the motivations behind their actions and the contexts in which the poets were creating their characters. A judgment based on the superficial content of these two poems would clearly not do justice to two of the most interesting characters in epic literature. Similarly, the first time reader would probably not feel able to define their own opinions about Achilles and Satan after reading poems so dense with meaning just once. In the case of Satan the matter is more complicated because most readers would bring to the text a preconceived set of ideas concerning Satan and the image of him being simply the embodiment of all evil, as set out in Christian belief. Therefore I shall assume that the title refers to analysis of character progression in the narrative rather than the effect upon an initial reading of the poems.

The Iliad and Paradise Lost, it has been...

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