Paradise Regained Summary and Study Guide

John Milton

Paradise Regained

  • 28-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 4 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by an English instructor with an MFA from Johns Hopkins University
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Paradise Regained Summary and Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 28-page guide for “Paradise Regained” by John Milton includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Redemption and Power and “Powerlessness”.

Plot Summary

Paradise Regained by John Milton is an epic narrative poem that was initially published in 1671. A widely-revered essayist, dramatist, and lyric poet, Milton is perhaps best known for Paradise Lost, an epic poem he wrote in 1667. Whereas Paradise Lost depicts Lucifer’s fall from Heaven and Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Paradise Regained centers on the temptation of Christ, drawing on the Gospel of Luke for its inspiration.

Milton’s 1671 epic tells the following story: after Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist, he went into the desert, where he fasted for forty days and nights. During this fast, Satan came before Jesus multiple times to lure him into temptation. First, Satan tried to sway the would-be savior with hedonism by offering to satisfy his hunger. When that approach failed, Satan turned to trying to manipulate Jesus’ ego. He failed yet again, and attempted to sway Jesus by offering him kingdoms and wealth. Once more, Jesus turned Satan’s temptations away. Described as lust of eyes, lust of body, and pride of life, these temptations are meant to debase Jesus’ mind, soul, and heart.

By studying the differences between Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, one can learn much about Milton’s distinctive mode of poetic composition. Both narratives are written in blank verse, or unrhymed iambic pentameter. Made famous by William Shakespeare, iambic pentameter has enjoyed wide usage because, of all the different types of meter, it most closely resembles the natural rhythm of English speech. An iamb consists of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable. The term “pentameter” indicates that there are five such pairs (“pent–” meaning “five”), for a total of ten syllables per line.

Both poems have an epic quality, although Paradise Regained is only about one-fifth the length of Paradise Lost. (The latter has over 10,000 lines, whereas Paradise Regained has just over 2,000.) On account of this difference, Paradise Regained has become known as a brief epic. Epic poems typically share a number of features: an epic typically begins in medias res, or in the middle of the action, and usually takes place over a large swath of geographic space, or in a vaster space—the universe. Epics typically involve an epic invocation. The opening line of Homer’s Iliad, is often quoted as an example: “Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus’ son….” In terms of style and designation, epics are known for the use of epithets, which are repeated descriptions. They can contain long lists or catalogues, as well as equally long speeches. Epics frequently involve divine intervention and address its effect on human lives, as well as on heroswho represent the values of a particular society.

Understanding the differences between Milton’s two poems is as important as understanding their similarities. Where Paradise Lost uses elegant language and style, Paradise Regained is often thought of as more approachable, with a plainer style. Milton uses fewer similes in Regained than he does in Lost, a tactic which makes the delivery more direct. With the main idea of Paradise Regained being to reverse the damage done in Paradise Lost—that is, the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, or paradise—Regained is filled with reversals.

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