Essay about Paradise Lost by John Milton

976 Words 4 Pages
As Bloom’s theory would suggest, John Milton is often credited with influencing literary figures - particularly during the Romantic period. T.S. Eliot writes of Milton’s ‘bad influence’ upon his successors while others, such as Lucy Newlyn , celebrate his impact. Many critics use Wordsworth as a perfect example of this influence and there is certainly a valid argument for his ‘emulation’ of, and ‘rebellion’ against, Paradise Lost. Throughout The Prelude, Wordsworth revises and alludes to Milton. Though there are too many links to be traced in one essay, Milton’s legacy provides an interesting point of discussion.
Initially, Wordsworth exhibits what could be called an ‘anxiety of influence’. In Book III of The Prelude, he incorporates
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(Prel I.15-19)
The quotes alludes to the final lines of Paradise Lost, when Adam and Eve are forced to leave Eden: Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon; The world was all before them, where to choose Their place of rest, and Providence their guide, They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow, Through Eden took their solitary way.
Wordsworth takes ‘wandering’ and ‘way’ verbatim, and his use of ‘earth’ evokes Milton’s ‘world’. Bloom’s theory of emulation has some credibility as the quote acknowledges Milton’s influence on Wordsworth’s preoccupation with ‘liberty’. Yet as mentioned above, ‘rebellion’ is also in evidence. Milton recognises God as ‘Providence’ and a ‘guide’ to humanity, but Wordsworth refrains from religious connotations. He is free to ‘chuse’ his ‘guide’ for ‘better’ or worse, and so is more autonomous from God than Adam and Eve. However, he is not entirely free. In many ways, Nature is his modern alternative to God. He speaks of his ‘religious love’ (Prel II.377) for Nature rather than heaven. Later, during the boating incident, he comments that ‘surely’ he was ‘led by her’ and describes the ‘voice/of mountain-echoes’ (Prel I.372-90) as he rows across the lake. Nature is personified as Providence and informs his conscience. Through Raphael’s visit, Adam and Eve are schooled on morality by God, but it is Nature’s whispers that endow Wordsworth with a sense of morality. The Prelude therefore rebels against

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