paradiselostfinalpaper - 1Laura Allen Holly Johnson English...

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1Laura Allen Holly Johnson English Literature 1 4 December 2007 From Innocence to Shame: “Nakedness” in Paradise Lost Epic poetry is often written with an indeterminate depth and intelligence that, once understood, can aid in the creation of a number of literature’s greatest accomplishments . This powerful utilization of the English language involves the layering of definitions in order to provide underlying messages through specific word choices . Throughout John Milton’s Book IX of Paradise Lost , the term “naked” offers many varying perspectives on the story, which can be transformed according to the degree of the reader’s perception . While the term “naked” can refer to the literal absence of clothes upon the bodies of Adam and Eve, the term is also capable of describing their “naked” souls. Before partaking in the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve experience a nakedness in both mind and body, which represents a form of innocence and simplicity. This connotation of the word “naked” here is meant to be representative of godliness and positivity. However, once the fruit has been eaten, Adam and Eve are said to be ashamed of their nakedness, hiding themselves from the world. They are immediately shocked by their physical nakedness, but soon become aware of their inward nakedness, which is viewed as being much more humiliating. The symbolic nature of nakedness now has shifted forms. While originally, it possessed the characteristics of simplicity and innocence, it now represents a soul without God. This underlying definition of the term provides a depth and strength to the literary work as is characteristic of many works of literature at the time.
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Upon the initial reading of Book IX of Paradise Lost , the nakedness worn by Adam and Eve is purely of a physical effect. The Oxford English Dictionary defines nakedness as the “freedom from ostentation or unnecessary ornament; simplicity of style.” This extremely literal meaning of the term is prominent here and provides an apparent contrast between the “nakedness” of the two humans before and after their sinful fall. Since their creation, Adam and Eve were blissfully unaware of their unclothed bodies and the shame that is often associated alongside it. Their nakedness was their true form, the way that God himself created them to remain. Because of his delicacy in the design of Adam and Eve, nakedness was a simple act of revealing God’s work to all of the world. They were simple and beautifully lacking in gaudy ornamentation, which created for them a unique form of freedom. This simple design was
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This note was uploaded on 04/21/2008 for the course ENG 1323 taught by Professor Johnson during the Fall '06 term at Mississippi State.

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paradiselostfinalpaper - 1Laura Allen Holly Johnson English...

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