British Literature



 The poems “Paradise Lost” and “Hero and Leander” have taken different views of Milton’s ideas. The two poems seeks out a diverse viewpoints about characters pitiful struggles in achieving their desires and go beyond their limits. However, their desires and knowledge lead the characters to a down fall. In “Hero and Leander” it begins with a young lover (Hero) who is dedicated to serve their goddess Venus (William 33). The quest of their knowledge to chase a great reward turns to dramatic downfall. This paper discuses how divine functions in Milton and Marlow’s poem. The poems remind the reader that although they may have ambitions, they must not let them destroy their entire life.


 “Paradise Lost” and “Hero and Leander”

 The poem “Hero and Leander” begins by describing Venus, the goddess of love. In line 12, the poem describes a naked Venus walking in her glory before Adnois, who admire her. As a goddess, Venus was not restricted to mortal society unlike Hero who was subjected to traditions, laws and other restrictive practices that the community imposed against her relationship with Leander (William 38). Venus’ strategic position explains who she wanted to replicate. Hero, as a “nun of Venus” must try to resolve her paradoxical situations as a virginal nun to the Goddess of love. Here, Hero attempt to align herself with a goddess and this lead the poem to a critical situation. As a result, this bring a common theme in mythology is a mortal attempt to achieve God’s heights. For instance, Icarus the mortal who tries to fly too high to go beyond their limits, when the mortal arrives at critical point, he is given a single chance to return. However, these mortal declines to return back and eventually fall. This creates a major lesson to be learnt by the readers. For instance, people are taught not to go beyond the limits of mortality. Therefore, the poem reflects the desire of power. Like the poem ‘Hero and Leander,’ ‘Paradise Lost’ also shows the strong desire of power especially from the Satan who is the main charatcer. The poem shows how Satan desires to attain similar powers as those of God. He wishes to posses the same knowledge and power. This can be shown when Satan says, ‘till then who knew/The force of those dire arms’ (Milton 1817). He believed that he was as powerful and strong as God. However, he does not succeed in his mission. Therefore, both poems show the failure of the characters to attain their desires that go beyond their authorized limits and the punishment they receive.

 The nature of her clothing not only depicts devout but also the mortal attempt to approach godliness. Her appearance to the society shows her as a woman who has beauty and devotion towards her goddess and even sacrificing love for virginity that is very crucial to the society she lives. Therefore, her clothes has the role of showing her divine, honor due to its complexity, sociality importance for her virginity statues, amazing details that portrays her clothing as natural, and the barrier between her nakedness and men’s eyes. Hero serves as a main character in the poem that align herself with her goddess but reality emerges and creates opposition to her stand. Similarly, in the poem ‘Paradise Lost’ Satan who was also referred to as Angle of light was the most love Angle by God (Milton 1830). He had authority over other Angles. At one point, Satan shows her divine towards God when he identifies himself and his plight similar to that of a man. He acknowledges that he was created by God and bound to serve him.

 In both poems, the main characters disobey their master’s rules. Hero give up her virginity and this destroy the relationship between Hero and the goddess night. This can be shown when she says that she wish the nights were never done so that she could remain in Lender’s blissful embrace (Line 785). She also wishes that her sexual encounter would not end at that night as people would know her actions in the day (1109). Her actions indicate that she has ignored what gives her power and respect in society’s light. Similarly, in the ‘Paradise Lost,’ Satan ignores his master or the source of his powers. The freedom and powers he is given by God make him limitlessly proud. He wishes that he would outshine God and even gain his position. His disobedience distances him from God’s grace and leads to his misery after being thrown out of heaven to hell.

 In both poems, the main characters they believe they are above sexual desires and this finally destroys their holiness. For example, Hero attempt to climb beyond the sexual and romantic heights that are freely enjoyed by Venus (William 41). On the other hand, Satan shows his sexuality desires to seduce humankind to be evil. Hero is enticed by sexual desire that destroys her form of devotion with goddess by going beyond what the society and gods have allotted her and this results to the fall of heroine. However, the two poems show different aims that the characters use their sexual desires. In the “Paradise Lost” Satan uses the sexual desires to “seduce” human beings and led them to evil. For instance, Satan shows his sexual desire by seducing Adam and Eve. On the other hand, ‘Hero and Leander’ concentrate on sexuality as a desire to elaborate on temptation, knowledge and power.

 After their disobedience, both fail to repent to the spirits that give them the powers. When Satan thought of repentance, he quickly gets the idea of defeat to God. For instance, Satan says states how he would repent by act of Grace. Therefore, Satan shows a reflective character and up to his point, redemption is an option, but this seems difficult and dismisses the idea of repentance. On the other hand, when Hero’s virgin falls, the event is not celebrated but seen as a horror, disgust, shame and rage. This also demotes her honored social statues. She accepts her lower positions and becomes subservience to the man that bested her. Instead of repenting and accepting the facts, she commits suicide by throwing her body down to Hell (Campbell 253).


 The two poems expresses a common theme of desire and Knowledge. The poem acknowledges that people always have certain desires but on the other hand, it can also be dangerous and may also cause a downfall. The main characters in the two poem destroyed their holiness and powers as a result of their curiosity to reach to higher heights than their required limits. Marlow and Milton’s work provide us with a warning to stay away from desire that can destroy our present positions. However, this may be unfair concept since we constantly strive to achieve and learn more about the world through our desires and knowledge.