Transformation: Paradise Lost and Base Text Essay

Submitted By MEAGAN1694
Words: 2032
Pages: 9

I chose John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost as the base text for my text transformation, particularly focusing on book IX. Milton was a Seventeenth Century Puritan writer and religion influenced the central principle in Paradise Lost - obedience to God. I was interested in the themes of this text, the aforementioned obedience and its antithesis, temptation. Whilst these can be found in the original bible story Milton’s text offers a further realm of interest in terms of his character exploration (particularly the Satan character). I found this characterisation fascinating and wished to explore it further in a different context.

In my transformation I aimed to take Milton’s themes and put them in a modern context to give a current perspective to the ideas behind the first story of mankind. I set my story in the Middle East because I felt that it was a context in which the themes which in Paradise Lost would still be relevant due to the strongly held religious/moral values, particularly those concerning women. This choice of setting is evident in my transformation from unfamiliar lexis such as “Pan Chini” and “burka”. Milton’s judgement of womankind (represented by Eve) as sinful and weak appeared to me harsh and unappealing for a modern audience influenced by feminism. Hence I aimed to create a more current interpretation of Eve’s behaviour, yet maintain within the story the condemnation she receives in Paradise Lost. I therefore felt strict Middle Eastern society such as Afghanistan to be an appropriate setting. As I was interested in exploring the characters of Eve and Satan in more depth I used an alternating dual narrative approach.

Throughout my transformation I retained the passive nature of Eve apparent in Paradise Lost within her own narrative. The purpose of my focus on Eve was not to change her nature but to alter the idea that she should be blamed for events that occur. In Paradise Lost it is Eve who presents herself as submissive, for example referring to Adam as her “head”. I have attempted to give a similar presentation. I used a largely descriptive first person narrative, seen in phrases such as “her demeanour was methodical”. I have included declarative statements such as “I was not obedient” in relation to significant moments in the story. The combination of these techniques presents her as a passive character as she rarely offers insight or analysis into happenings, making her seem subject to external control. Outside her own speech I have also implied passivity, for example never mentioning her by name. Her narratives are entitled with the theme of the section because she is personified by the events in which she partakes, directly contrasting to Satan who is a complex character within himself. I felt that to change the nature of Eve’s character would be straying too much from the ideas of the base text as well as being inappropriate to my setting. The only times when variations are evident (in the base text and in my transformation) are when she suggests to Adam that it would be beneficial for them to part and after she has fallen. The reason for the former is ambiguous in the base text and I too have left this decision for the reader. Meanwhile the fall allows for the awakening of strong emotions for the first time, this can be seen by the fact that she begins to question values in society – “is deceit not a greater evil than curiosity?”. This lets her develop fully as a person, Satan is correct when he says he is offering her knowledge and in both texts the knowledge is of the realities of life. Ironically this means that she can no longer be perceived as a perfectly pure heroine and is condemned. In Paradise Lost the condemnation is symbolised by Adam dropping the wreath he is making for Eve and I reflected this with a reference to dropping flowers – “blossoms from Alaa’s arms plunging around me”. However the view of characters within the text does not constitute a certain view for the audience. I