Milton’s Use of Epic Simile in Paradise Lost



Epic simile is an extended simile, in a few cases hurrying to fifteen or twenty lines, in which the correlations made, are expounded in impressive subtle element. It is a typical feature of epic verse, however is found in different sorts too. In an epic poem similes are utilized with the end goal of delineation, yet they serve additionally to brighten the epic topic or character.

Epic similes are likewise given the name of Homeric similes in light of the fact that Homer expounded his similes in such a path, to the point that a specific sort of respect and excellence was made in his verse and from that point forward it turned into the convention of epic verse. Milton has acquired various such similes in the Book I of ‘Paradise Lost’.

In the first simile he looks at the tremendous type of Satan sprawling on the pool of flame to the mythical ocean mammoth called Leviathan. It was a sort of huge whale of such extraordinary size that when it rose up to the top, it involved numerous miles and gave the impression of an island in mid-sea. In this simile however the predominant impression is size yet alternate impressions are additionally delivered. The Leviathan is hazardous and unpredictable so is Satan.

The second epic simile is the place he contrasts the shield of Satan with the presence of the moon as it was seen by Galileo through his recently created telescope. In spite of the fact that this is a chronological error in one sense, it helps us to structure some thought of the radiance of Satan’s shield.

With a perspective to provide for us a thought of the endless hosts of fallen holy messengers, Milton contrasts their thick masses with the harvest time leaves in Vallambrosa in Italy. In autumn all deciduous trees shed their leaves and the timberland would be thickly covered with them. This is less an epic simile but rather more a complete parallelism.

Joseph Addison is of the view that

‘The likeness does not, maybe, last over a line or two, however the artist runs on with the indication until he has raised out of it a few eminent picture or notion, legitimate to excite the brain of the spectator, and to provide for it that heavenly sort of stimulation which is suitable to the way of a chivalrous lyric.’

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