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Loewenstein Answerable Style

Page history last edited by Shannon Breslin 8 years, 5 months ago

Loewenstein, David. "Answerable Styles". Paradise Lost. 2nd Ed. Cambridge: Cambridge Up, 2004.


Summary In David Loewenstein's excerpt "Answerable Styles," he argues that Milton's style is not consistent throughout Paradise Lost. Milton uses a variety of different styles throughout the poem. He also argues that his most brilliant stylistic choice throughout the poem is his use of epic or extended similes that make sophisticated comparisons. Other styles he uses throughout the poem include a rhetorical high style, biblical style, and mock-heroic style. His variety of styles and complex use of similes challenges his readers and forces them to look at  these complicated stylistic features and comparisons and relate them to the larger themes of disobedience, loss, and restoration, which the poem portrays.


"Evidence" #1 - Loewenstein offers the example of Adam and Eve's judgement:  Adam - "This woman whom thou mad'st to help,/...thy perfet gift...so Divine,/That from her hand I could suspect no ill,/...Shee fave me of the Tree, and I did eat". Eve - "The Serpent me beguil'd and I did eat". As Loewenstein mentions, Adam's speach contains "suspended syntax". This style shows the reader Adam is fumbling and reaching for excuses; looking to blame.  Eve on the other hand is honest and open as to what she did and why.  Eve's style is considered a "Biblical diction". It is because of the syntactical inconsistancy that we are able to get an understanding of Adam & Eve as individuals. We can see what set's them apart from each other. The inconsistency of the style brings out their true dispositions which will become more important through out Paradise Lost


"Evidence" #2 - Perhaps one of Milton's most advantageous and well known methods, says Loewenstein,  is his use of epic and expanded similes. One occurrence of this derives from Book 3 when he mentions Satan and compares him to sunspots. The passage reads, "There lands the Fiend, a spot like which perhaps / Astronomer in the Sun's lucent Orb / Through his glaz'd Optic Tube yet never saw." This references Galileo's discovery of sunspots on the sun and how torn Milton's own views on this discovery were at the time. He uses this ambivalence as a way to portray Satan's character; he later tells Eve to search "high and deep" and overall, embodies the very image of indirectness himself. The word  "perhaps" and the phrase "yet never saw," Loewenstein argues, echoes Milton's own hesitance toward the new scientific discoveries and yet, by adding them makes the epic more of a modern work. 



Opinions -


  • I would agree with Loewenstein's assessment of stylistic changes and similes through out Book 1 of Paradise Lost.  As mentioned above you can see the styles change multiple times even within a small portion of the poem.  One point that I found especially interesting from the reading was the comparisons made with regard to "Satans" size. There are many comparisons but they end up being vague in that you do not know Satan's true size. This in itself creates a distrust and fear of the unknown. Satan is said to be of a "monstrous size"..."extended long and large lay floating many a rood (6-8 yards)" but we never really know how big he is....The comparisons that are used are to vague to help give us a true measure of his size.
  • I, too, agree with Loewenstein in regards to the various approaches Milton uses to inform his audience.  Firstly, it not only testifies to Milton's brilliance but most importantly, by creating different styles and similes, the reader has an easier time comprehending the material. Loewenstein attests to that as evidenced by Book 10, where Adam and Eve have an exchange through juxtaposition; Adam is argumentative, answering indirectly as he says, "That from her hand I could suspect no ill." In comparison, Eve's response is blunt, short and to the point responding with "The Serpent me beguil'd and I did eat." She has no falsities and places the blame on no one other than herself. The technique illustrates this fact wonderfully as Loewenstein suggests. While the point may have been obvious in regular form, the juxtaposition does a better job of presenting that to readers. Therefore, through the help of stylistic changes and suspended similes, I'd have to concur with Loewenstein that Milton's methods are both complex but necessary to understand the text.
  • I agree with Lowensteins agrument.  I feel that through Milton's different stylistic choices and expanded similies he shows his complexity as a writer. Through these similies he  shows insight into characters and action that occurs through out the epic.  Many of his extended similies touch on Satan's characteristics and his journey in the epic. Milton's style and complex comparisons definetley challenge the reader and force him or her to make their own interpertations. Many of Milton's descriptions are left to the readers discretion. Milton often leaves the reader to wonder what he is trying to convey, he does not always give you the answer but makes you rely on your own insight to figure out what he is trying to communicate.  


Comments (1)

Jackie Marro said

at 12:27 pm on Feb 23, 2012

Hi girls,
Not quite certain if either of you wanted to add anything else before class but I finished evidence two and put my own two cents in pertaining to the essay under the opinions section. Unfortunately, I don't have anymore time before class today to make corrections if necessary so I did a quick read through last night and, over all, it looks nice! If you wanted to add anything else before class or make changes to my own pieces, feel free to do so. See you in class!

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