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John Milton

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John Milton was born on December 9, 1608, in London. Milton's
father's family disowned his father when he converted from Catholicism to
Protestantism, but he went on to become a prosperous scrivener (a kind of
low-level lawyer). Milton excelled in school and continued studying
privately in his twenties and thirties. In 1638, he made a trip to Italy,
studying in Florence, Siena, and Rome, but felt obliged to return home in
1639 upon the outbreak of civil war in England. When Milton returned from
Italy, he began planning an epic poem, the first epic poem to be written in
English. These plans were delayed by his marriage to Mary Powell and her
subsequent desertion of him. In reaction to these events, Milton wrote a
series of pamphlets calling for more leniencies in the church's position on
divorce. His argument brought him both publicity and angry criticism from
the religious establishment in England. The Second Civil War ended in 1649
after King Charles was dethroned and executed. Milton welcomed the new
parliament and wrote pamphlets in its support. After serving for a few years
in a civil position, he retired briefly to his house in Westminster because his
eyesight was failing. By 1652, he was completely blind.
Despite his disability, Milton re-entered civil service under the
Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, the military general who ruled the British
Isles from 1653 to 1658. Two years after Cromwell’s death, Milton's worst
fears were realized—the Restoration brought Charles II to the throne, and
the poet had to go into hiding to escape execution. Milton had already begun
work on the great English epic that he had planned years before: Paradise
Lost. His exile brought him the opportunity to work on the epic in earnest,
dictating the poetry to his daughter. Paradise Lost was published in 1667, a
year after the Great Fire of London. Critics immediately recognized the
importance of Milton’s epic, and the admiring comments of the respected
poets John Dryden and Andrew Marvell helped restore Milton to favour.
Milton spent the ensuing years writing prolifically at his residence in
Bunhill. He died at home on November 8, 1674.
Thanks to his father’s wealth, young Milton got the best education money
could buy. He had a private tutor as a young boy. As a teenager, he attended
the prestigious St. Paul's Cathedral School. After excelling at St. Paul's he
entered Christ's College at Cambridge University. There he made a name for
himself with his prodigious writing, publishing several essays and poems to
high acclaim. After graduating with his master's degree in 1632, Milton

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moved home and his father supported him. Milton was allowed to take over
the family's estate near Windsor and pursue a quiet life of study. He spent
1632 to 1638—his mid to late twenties—reading the classics in Greek and
Latin, and learning new theories in mathematics and music.
Milton became fluent in many foreign and classical languages,
including Italian, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Anglo-
Saxon, and some Dutch. His knowledge of most of these languages was
immense and precocious. He wrote sonnets in Italian as a teenager. While a
second-year student at Cambridge, he was invited to address the first-year
students in a speech written entirely in Latin. By the age of thirty, Milton
had made himself one of the most brilliant minds of England, and one of its
most ambitious poets.
In his twenties, Milton wrote five masterful long poems, each of them
influential and important in its own way. These poems are “On the Morning
of Christ's Nativity,” “Comes,” “Lucida,” “Il Ponderosa,” and “L’Allegro.”
In these poems Milton honed his skills at writing narrative, dramatic,
elegiac, philosophical, and lyrical poetry. He had built a firm poetic
foundation through his intense study of languages, philosophy, and politics,
and he infused it with his uncanny sense of tone and diction. Even in these
early poems, Milton's literary output was guided by his faith in God. Milton
believed that all poetry serves a social, philosophical, and religious purpose.
He thought that poetry should glorify God, enlighten readers, and help
people to become better Christians.
Aside from his poetic successes, Milton was also a prolific writer of
essays and pamphlets. These prose writings did not bring Milton public
acclaim. In fact, since his essays and pamphlets argued against the established
views of most of England, the pamphlets made Milton the object of threats.
Nevertheless, he continued to express his political and theological beliefs in
essays and pamphlets.
Milton expressed his political ideals in the many pamphlets he wrote.
He believed that power corrupts human beings and distrusted anyone who
could claim power over anyone else. Milton believed that rulers should have
to prove their right to lead other people.
Milton was an activist in his middle years, fighting for human rights and
against the rule of England's leaders, whom he believed were inept.
Knowing he was not a physical fighter, he fought by writing lengthy,
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rhetorical pamphlets that thoroughly and rigorously argued his point of view.
Although he championed liberty and fought against authority throughout his
career, Milton believed in the strict social and political hierarchy in which
people, in theory, would obey their leaders and the leaders would serve their
people. He knew this system would work only if the leaders were actually
better and fit to rule than their subjects. He objected to the hierarchy that
actually existed in his day because he thought its leaders extremely corrupt.
He directly challenged the rule of Charles I, the king of England during
much of his lifetime. Milton argued that Charles was not fit to lead his
subjects because he did not possess superior faculties or virtues.
Milton took public stances on a great number of issues, but perhaps
most important to the reading of Paradise Lost are his positions on religion.
In Milton's time, the Anglican Church, or Church of England, had split into
three sects: the high Anglican, moderate Anglican, and Puritan or
Presbyterian sects. Milton was a Presbyterian. Presbyterians called for the
abolishment of bishops. Milton, however, took this anti-bishop stance
farther, ultimately calling for the removal of all priests, whom he referred to
as “hirelings.” Milton despised the corruption he saw in the Catholic Church,
repeatedly attacking it in his poetry and prose. In “Lucida,” he likens
Catholics to hungry wolves leaping into a sheep’s pen, an image similar to
his depiction of Satan leaping over the wall of Paradise in Paradise Lost,
Book IV. He thought the division of Protestants into more and smaller
denominations was a sign of healthy self-examination, and believed that
each individual Christian should be his own church, unencumbered by an
establishment. These beliefs, expressed in a great number of pamphlets,
prompted his break with the Presbyterians. From that point on, Milton
advocated the complete abolishment of all church establishments, and he
kept his own private religion that was close to the Calvinism practised by
Presbyterians but different in some ways. Milton’s individual view of
Christianity makes Paradise Lost simultaneously personal and universal. It
comes from his personal ethos, but it speaks to all the Christians.
In his later years, Milton came to view all the organized Christian
churches, whether Anglican, Catholic or Presbyterian, as obstacles to true
faith. He felt that the conscience of the individual was a more powerful tool
than the church in interpreting the Word of God. The importance of
remaining strong in one’s personal religious convictions, particularly in the
face of widespread condemnation, is a major theme in the later Books of

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Paradise Lost, as Michael shows Adam the vision of Enoch and Noah, two
men who risk death to stand up for God.
Paradise Lost takes a number of Protestant stances: the union of the Old
and New Testaments, the unworthiness of humankind, and the importance of
Christ's love to man's salvation. Nonetheless, the poem does not present a
unified, cohesive Christian theology, nor does it attempt to identify
disbelievers, redefine Christianity, or replace the Bible. Instead, Milton's
epic stands as a remarkable presentation of biblical stories meant to engage
the Christian readers and help them be better Christians.
Much of Milton’s social commentary in Paradise Lost focuses on the
role of women. In Book IV he suggests that men are superior to women,
alluding to biblical passages that identify man as the head of woman.
Milton’s depiction of women in Paradise Lost may seem misogynistic by
today’s standards, but it is almost progressive by the standards of Milton’s
day. He never suggests, as many did at the time, that women are utterly
inferior or evil. He presents Eve’s wifely role as important and her presence
as crucial to Adam’s character. Adam voices a harsh view of womankind
only after the fall, when Satan has poisoned the naturally idyllic relationship
between men and women.
Milton’s views on marriage were considered shocking and heretical. He
fought for the right to divorce in an age when nearly all denominations
prohibited divorce except in some cases of adultery. But in his Doctrine and
Discipline of Divorce, Milton expresses his belief that any sort of
incompatibility, be it sexual, mental, or spiritual, justifies divorce. In the
same essay, he argues that the main purpose of marriage is not necessarily
procreation, as most people thought at that time, but the joining of two
people into one unified being. He felt that conversation and mental
companionship were supremely important in a marriage and seems to blame
mental incompatibility for his own failed marriage. Milton believed that the
partners in a marriage must complement each other, as Adam and Eve do,
compensating for faults and enhancing strengths.

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Milton’s epic poem opens on the fiery lake of hell, where Satan and his
army of fallen angels find themselves chained. Satan and his lieutenant
Beelzebub get up from the lake and yell to the others to rise and join them.
Music plays and banners fly as the army of rebel angels comes to attention,
tormented and defeated but faithful to their general. They create a great and
terrible temple, perched on a volcano top, and Satan calls a council there to
decide on their course of action. The fallen angels give various suggestions.
Finally, Beelzebub suggests that they take the battle to a new battlefield, a
place called earth where, it is rumoured, God has created a new being called
man. Man is not as powerful as the angels, but he is God's chosen favourite
among his creations. Beelzebub suggests that they seek revenge against God
by seducing man to their corrupted side.
Satan volunteers to explore this new place himself and finds out more
about man so that he may corrupt him. His fallen army unanimously agrees
by banging on their swords. Satan takes off to the gates of hell, guarded by
his daughter, Sin, and their horrible son, Death. Sin agrees to open the gates
for her creator (and rapist), knowing that she will follow him and reign with
him in whatever kingdom he conquers. Satan then travels through chaos, and
finally arrives at earth, connected to heaven by a golden chain. God
witnesses all of this and points out Satan’s journey to his Son. God tells his
Son that, indeed, Satan will corrupt God’s favourite creation, man. His Son
offers to die a mortal death to bring man back into the grace and light of
God. God agrees and tells how his Son will be born to a virgin. God then
makes his Son the king of man, son of both man and God.
Meanwhile, Satan disguises himself as a handsome cherub in order to
get by the angel Uriel who is guarding earth. Uriel is impressed that an angel
would come all the way from heaven to witness God's creation, and points
the Garden of Eden out to Satan. Satan makes his way into the Garden and is
in awe at the beauty of Eden and of the handsome couple of Adam and Eve.
For a moment, he deeply regrets his fall from grace. This feeling soon turns,
however, to hatred. Uriel, however, has realized that he has been fooled by
Satan and tells the angel Gabriel as much. Gabriel finds Satan in the Garden
and sends him away. God, seeing how things are going, sends Raphael to
warn Adam and Eve about Satan. Raphael goes down to the Garden and is
invited for dinner by Adam and Eve. While there, he narrates how Satan
came to fall and the subsequent battle that was held in heaven. Satan first sin

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was pride, when he took issue with the fact that he had to bow down to the
Satan was one of the top angels in heaven and did not understand why
he should bow. Satan called a council and convinced many of the angels
who were beneath him to join in fighting God. A tremendous, cosmic three-
day battle ensued between Satan's forces and God’s forces. On the first day,
Satan’s forces were beaten back by the army led by the archangels Michael
and Gabriel. On the second day, Satan seemed to gain ground by
constructing artillery, literally cannons, and turning them against the good
forces. On the third day, however, the Son faced Satan’s army alone and
they quickly retreat, falling through a hole in heaven’s fabric and cascading
down to hell. This is the reason, Raphael explains, and that God created
man: to replace the empty space that the fallen angels have left in heaven.
Raphael then tells of how God created man and the entire universe in
seven days. Adam himself remembers the moment he was created and, as
well, how he came to ask God for a companion, Eve. Raphael leaves. The
next morning, Eve insists on working separately from Adam. Satan, in the
form of serpent, finds her working alone and starts to flatter her. Eve asks
where he learned to speak, and Satan shows her the Tree of Knowledge.
Although Eve knows that this was the one tree God had forbidden that they
eat from, she is told by Satan that this is only because God knows she will
become a goddess herself. Eve eats the fruit and then decides to share it with
Adam. Adam, clearly, is upset that Eve disobeyed God, but he cannot
imagine a life without her so he eats the apple as well.
They both, then, satiate their newborn lust in the bushes and wake up
ashamed, knowing now the difference from good and evil (and, therefore,
being able to choose evil). They spend the afternoon blaming each other for
their fall. God sends the Son down to judge the two disobedient creatures.
The Son condemns Eve, and all of womankind, to painful childbirths and
submission to her husband. He condemns Adam to a life of a painful battle
with nature and hard work at getting food from the ground. He condemns the
serpent to always crawl on the ground on its belly, always at the heel of
Eve's sons. Satan, in the meantime, returns to hell victorious. On the way,
he meets Sin and Death, who have built a bridge from hell to earth, to
mankind, whom they will now reign over.
When Satan arrives in hell, however, he finds his fallen compatriots not
cheering as he had wished, but hissing. The reason behind the horrible
hissing soon becomes clear: all of the fallen angels are being transformed
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into ugly monsters and terrible reptiles. Even Satan finds himself turning
into a horrible snake. Adam and Eve, after bitterly blaming each other,
finally decide to turn to God and ask for forgiveness. God hears them and
agrees with his Son that he will not lose mankind completely to Sin, Death
and Satan. Instead, he will send his son as a man to earth to sacrifice himself
and, in so doing, conquer the evil trinity. Michael is sent by God to escort
Adam and Eve out of the Garden. Before he does, however, he tells Adam
what will become of mankind until the Son comes down to earth. The
history of mankind (actually the history of the Jewish people as narrated in
the Hebrew Bible) will be a series of falls from grace and acceptance back
by God, from Noah and the Flood to the Babylonian exile of the Jewish
people. Adam is thankful that the Son will come down and right what he and
Eve have done wrong. He holds Eve’s hand as they are escorted out of the

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The narrator begins Paradise Lost by stating that his subject will be
Adam and Eve’s disobedience and fall from grace. He calls on a heavenly
muse and asks for help in relating his ambitious story. The narrator begins
his story with Satan and his fellow rebel angels, now devils, who wake to
find themselves chained to a lake of fire in Hell. They free themselves and
fly to Hell’s land, where they discover minerals and construct
Pandemonium, which will be their meeting place. Inside Pandemonium, the
rebel angels hold a meeting to debate a plan of action. Beelzebub suggests
that they attempt to corrupt humankind, God’s beloved new creation. Satan
agrees and volunteers to go himself. As he prepares to leave Hell, his
children, Sin and Death, meet him at the gates and follow him, building a
bridge between Hell and Earth.
In Heaven, God orders the angels together for a council of their own. He
tells them of Satan’s intentions, and the Son volunteers to sacrifice himself
for humankind. Meanwhile, Satan travels through Night and Chaos and finds
Earth. He disguises himself as a cherub to get past the Archangel Uriel, who
stands guard at the Sun. He tells Uriel that he wishes to see and praise God’s
glorious creation, and Uriel grants his request. Satan then lands on Earth and
looks around. Seeing the splendour of Paradise pains him. He reaffirms his
decision to do evil and commit crimes against the God. Satan leaps over
Paradise’s wall, taking the form of a cormorant (a large bird) and perches
atop the Tree of Life. Looking down at Satan from his post, Uriel notices the
volatile emotions reflected in the face of this so-called cherub and warns the
other angels that an impostor is in their midst. The other angels agree to
search the Garden for intruders.
Meanwhile, Adam and Eve tend the Garden, carefully obeying God's
order to refrain from eating from the Tree of Knowledge. After a long day of
work, they return to their bower, pray, and make love. After Adam and Eve
fall asleep, Satan takes the form of a toad and whispers into Eve’s ear.
Gabriel, the angel set to guard Paradise, finds Satan in the bower and orders
him to leave. Satan prepares to battle Gabriel, but God makes the golden
scales of justice appear in the sky as a sign, and Satan scurries away. Eve
awakes and tells Adam about a dream she had in which an angel tempted her
to eat from the forbidden tree. Worried about the safety of the humans he
created, God sends Raphael down to Earth to teach Adam and Eve of the
danger Satan poses.

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Raphael arrives on Earth and eats a meal with Adam and Eve. After the
meal, Eve goes inside, and Raphael and Adam speak alone. Raphael tells
Adam the story of Satan’s downfall. Satan grew envious after God appointed
his Son as second-in-command. Satan gathered together other angels who
were also angry at the favour shown to the Son, and together they plotted a
war against God. Abdiel decided not to join Satan’s army and returned to
God. The angels began to fight. Michael and Gabriel served as co-leaders of
Heaven’s army. The battle ended after two days when God commanded the
Son to end the war and send Satan and his rebel angels to Hell. Raphael
warns Adam about Satan’s evil plan to corrupt Adam and Eve. Adam asks
Raphael to tell him the story of creation. Raphael tells Adam that God sent
the Son into Chaos to create the universe. He created the earth and stars and
other planets. Curious, Adam asks Raphael about the movement of the stars
and planets. Raphael bridles at Adam's seemingly unquenchable search for
knowledge, telling him he will learn all he needs to know, and any other
knowledge is not meant for humans to comprehend. Adam tells Raphael
about his first memories, of waking up and wondering who he was, what he
was, and where he was. Adam says that God spoke to him and told him
many things, among them an order not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.
Adam confesses to Raphael his intense physical attraction to Eve. Raphael
tells Adam that he must love Eve more purely and spiritually. After this final
bit of advice, Raphael leaves Earth and returns to Heaven.
Eight days after his banishment, Satan returns to Paradise. After closely
studying the animals there, he chooses to take the form of the serpent. Eve
suggests to Adam that they work separately for a while, so they can get more
work done. Adam hesitates but eventually assents. Satan searches for Eve
and to his delight find her alone. Still in serpent form, he talks to Eve and
praises her beauty and godliness. The serpent’s words amaze Eve and she
asks how he learned to speak. He tells her eating from the Tree of
Knowledge gave him the power of speech. Satan says that God knows the
fruit will give Adam and Eve godlike powers, and he banned it because he
wanted to keep them in ignorance. Eve hesitates but then reaches for a fruit
from the Tree of Knowledge and eats. She determines that Adam should
share her fate, and goes to find him. Adam has been busy making a wreath
of flowers for Eve. He is horrified to find that Eve has eaten from the
forbidden tree. Knowing that she has fallen, he decides he would rather fall
with her than remain pure and lose her. He eats from the fruit. Adam looks at
Eve in a new way, and they have sex lustfully.

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God immediately knows of their disobedience. Without rancour, out of
a sense of justice, he tells the angels in Heaven that Adam and Eve must be
punished. He sends the Son to punish them. The Son first punishes the
serpent whose body Satan took, condemning it to slither on its belly forever.
Then the Son tells Adam and Eve they must suffer pain and death because of
their sin. Women and men will lose their idyllic partnership and work in
separate spheres. Eve and all women will endure the pain of childbirth and
submit to their husbands, and Adam and all men will hunt and grow their
own food on a depleted Earth. Satan returns to Hell where cheers greet him.
He speaks to the devils in Pandemonium, and everyone believes that he has
beaten God. Sin and Death travel the bridge they built on their way to Earth.
Despite the devils’ confidence in their own victory, soon they find
themselves turning into snakes. They try to reach fruit from imaginary trees,
but find that it turns to ashes in their mouths.
God tells the angels to transform Earth. Humankind must now suffer hot
and cold seasons instead of the consistent temperatures they enjoyed before
sinning. On Earth, Adam and Eve fear their approaching doom. They blame
each other for their disobedience and become increasingly angry. In a fit of
rage, Adam wonders why God ever created Eve. Eve begs Adam not to
abandon her. She says they can survive by loving each other. She accepts
blame, for it was she who disobeyed both God and Adam. She ponders
suicide. Adam, moved by her speech, forbids her from taking her own life.
He remembers their punishment and believes that they can enact revenge on
Satan by remaining obedient to God. Together they pray to God and repent.
God hears their prayers, and sends Michael down to Earth. Michael tells
them that they must leave Paradise. Before they leave, Michael puts Eve to
sleep and takes Adam up to the highest hill, where he shows him a vision of
humankind’s future. Adam sees the sins of his children, and his children’s
children, and his first vision of death. Horrified, he asks Michael if there is
any alternative to death. He sees generations of humans sinning by lust,
greed, envy, and pride. They kill each other selfishly and live only for
pleasure. Then Michael shows him Enoch, who is saved by God as his
warring peers attempt to kill him. Adam also sees Noah and his family,
whose virtue makes God choose them to survive the flood that kills all other
humans. Next is the vision of Nimrod and the Tower of Babel. This story
explains the perversion of pure language into the many languages that are
spoken on Earth today. Adam sees the triumph of Moses and the Israelites
and then glimpses the Son sacrificing his life to save humankind. After this
vision, Adam and Eve must leave Paradise. Eve awakes and tells Adam that
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she had a very interesting and educating dream. Led by Michael, Adam and
Eve woefully leave Paradise, going hand in hand into a new world.
Called Lucifer in heaven before his disobedience, Satan is one of God’s
favourite angels until his pride gets in the way and he turns away from God.
Satan brings many of heaven’s angels with him, however, and reigns as king
in hell. He continues an eternal battle with God and goodness for the souls of
human beings. Satan, at first, is an angel with a single fault, pride, but
throughout the story he becomes physically and morally more and more
The Absolute, ruler of heaven, creator of earth and all of creation, God
is all seeing, though he seems to pay less attention to things further away
from his light. He is surrounded by angels who praise him and whom he
loves, but when Satan falls and brings many of heaven’s population with
him, he decides to create a new creature, human, and to create for him a
beautiful universe in the hopes that someday humans will join him in
heaven. God has a sense of humour, and laughs at the follies of Satan and
seems to be a firm and just ruler.
God’s begotten Son, later to become fully human in the form of Jesus,
the Christ. God’s Son will continually beat down Satan, first in the three-day
battle in heaven, then, as Jesus, when he sacrifices himself for the salvation
of man. The Son of God is more sympathetic to the plight of mankind and
often advocates on behalf of him in front of God.
Third of the God/Son/Trinity, although the Holy Spirit does not play a
large part in the narrative (leading some critics to think that Milton did not
even believe in the Trinity), he is continually referred to as Milton’s
inspirational “muse” in the writing of the epic. The Holy Spirit is, in fact, the
creature through whom the Old and New Testament were written according
to Christians; therefore he is the best vehicle from which Milton can draw
the truth.

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Daughter of Satan born when Satan first disobeyed God, Satan later
rapes Sin and they have Death. The three form the unholy trinity in contrast
to God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Sin is sent to hell with Satan and stands
guard at hell's gates. She is a horrible looking thing, half serpent, half
woman, with hellhounds circling her. She will invade earth and mankind
after Satan causes Adam and Eve to fall.
Spawn of Satan and Satan's daughter Sin. He is a dark, gigantic form
who guards the gates of hell with Sin. He, too, will reign on earth after Satan
causes the Fall. Death, however, will plague not only men and women, but
all living creatures on earth down to the smallest plant. Death, as a terminal
end, will be defeated when God sends his Son Jesus Christ to earth.
First created man, father of all mankind, Adam is created a just and
ordered creature, living in joy, praising God. Lonely, Adam will ask for a
companion and will thereafter feel deep and uncontrollable, though ordered,
love for her, named Eve. This love will ultimately get Adam in trouble, as he
decides to disobey God rather than leave her. Adam has free will and, by the
end of the poem, also has the knowledge of good and evil.
First created woman, mother of all mankind, Eve is rather a fickle and
vain woman, easily flattered by Adam and Satan. Her weakness becomes her
downfall, as her vanity drives her to disobey God. She loves Adam as well,
though the implication is that she loves herself much more.
Gentle archangel sent to befriend and warn Adam of the dangers in the
Garden. Raphael is traditionally seen as a friendly and sociable angel and, in
fact, sits down to eat and gab with Adam for most of an afternoon. Raphael
is a gentle guide and appears as a luminous, soft being.
General in God’s army, In contrast to Raphael, Michael is a firm,
military type of angel. He is more of an instructor and a punisher than he is a
friend and a guide. He and Gabriel are sent to battle Satan’s forces in the
heavenly war, and he is sent to evict Adam and Eve from Paradise.

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Another archangel who is a general in God’s army, Gabriel, too, was
sent to lead God’s forces into battle against Satan and it is he who, with a
squadron of angel soldiers, finds Satan in the Garden of Eden the first time.
The only angel who stands up to Satan and his thousands of minions
when Satan first suggests rebellion, Abdiel is praised as being more
courageous than even those who fight in God's army because he stood up in
the middle of evil and used words to battle it.
Lord of the Flies, one of the Fallen Angels and Satan's second in
command. Beelzebub is the name of one of the Syrian gods mentioned in the
Hebrew Bible. He is the first with whom Satan confers when contemplating
rebellion and he is the first Satan sees when they are in hell. Beelzebub relies
totally on Satan for what he thinks and does. Later, Satan uses Beelzebub as
a plant to get hell's council of fallen angels to do what he wants them to do.
Another fallen angel, one of the generals of Satan’s army, Moloch is an
authoritarian military angel, who would rather fight and lose battles than be
complacent and passive. Victory over God is less important to Moloch than
revenge against him.
A complacent, passive fallen angel, Belial doesn’t want to fight. He
represents a part of all the fallen angels that secretly wishes God would take
them all back.
Another fallen angel Mammon thinks that the fallen angels should try to
build their own kingdom and make their life as bearable as possible in hell.
He is the ultimate compromiser, and, though his compromise is illogical and
will not work, the crowd loves him.

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Twilight falls on the Garden of Eden, then darkness. Satan slips into the
garden in the form of mist. He then hides himself in the snake.
While going though Eden, Satan again laments his loss of heaven when
he sees how beautiful a creation paradise is. “Revenge, at first though sweet,
bitter ere long back on itself recoils.”
Morning comes and Adam and Eve go out to tend the Garden of Eden.
Eve suggests they split up and divide the work to get more of it done. Adam
doesn’t think this is a good idea, but relents when Eve implies that he
doesn’t trust her.
Satan, of course, finds Eve alone and, for a moment overcome by her
beauty, finds himself “stupidly good.”
In the form of a serpent, then, Satan flatters her, telling her how
beautiful she is. Eve is amazed that the serpent knows how to speak and asks
how this is possible. Satan replies that it is because he ate from a tree in the
garden. He brings her to the Tree of Knowledge to show her.
Eve, at first, says she cannot eat from the tree, but Satan tells her that
God doesn’t want her to eat because knowledge of good and evil will make
her equal to a god.
Eve takes an apple and devours it. She then decides, because of her
love, to involve Adam. They meet in front of the tree.
Adam is upset, but decides he cannot live without Eve, so he takes the
apple as well. When he eats the apple, the two are seized with lust, and
Adam leads Eve back to the bank where they first lay together.
They sleep and arise, “destitute and bare of all their virtue.” They
realize for the first time that they are naked. Adam sews together fig leaves
to cover themselves.
Adam blames Eve for their torment. Eve blames Adam for letting her
work in the garden alone. Adam blames Eve for being angry about that, and
they spend the afternoon blaming on another.

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Milton is writing at the cusp of the Renaissance. The emerging sciences,
arts, and literature point to a different sense of the individual than that of the
dark ages. Milton was straddling the heavy hand of the church and religion
of the middle Ages and the humanism and individualism of the future, both
in his personal philosophy and in his historical context. Milton was, in many
ways, a humanist and believed in the value of human life as well as the
rights and freedoms that are inherent in that life. However, Milton
continually balanced this with the idea that true freedom can only be had if it
is in line with the ordered, rational will of God.
Adam loves Eve and so, by joining her in eating the apple, sacrifices his
own happiness for love. This, in itself is good act, motivated by love. A true
humanist would say that Adam is acting freely and he has done a good thing.
Milton, however, shows that even good acts are evil and corrupt if not done
in line with God's will. Adam is disobeying God and no matter what he does
outside of obedience, it will be bad.
William Blake said that “Milton was of the devil’s party without
knowing it.” He was referring to what we have described before, namely, the
rather sympathetic nature in which Milton seems to treat Satan. Indeed,
Satan’s rebelling against the all seeing tyranny of God would appear to be
right in line with Milton’s own political views that tyranny was wrong.
However, just as with Adam in good works done in disobedience, Satan is
wrong because he is acting outside the will of God, no matter his courage,
bravery, or justification in rebelling against tyranny. Despite his humanism,
therefore, Milton believes that no acts can be considered good if they are
against God's law.
It is quite clear in this book that right after Adam took a bite of the
apple, Adam and Eve had lustful, passionate sex. Referring back to Book IV,
where it is inferred that they were having sex all along, one can see the
difference in sex in pre-fall uncorrupted mankind and post-Fall irrational
man. Pre-Fall Adam and Eve were guided by reason and order and so
therefore all acts, even acts of love, brought him closer to God. Post-Fall
Adam and Eve are using his animal appetites that brought him closer to
animals than God. One can see in the language where post-Fall Adam grabs
Eve's hand and pulls her to their bed, where before it was Eve who gently
took Adam’s hand.
Continuing on Milton’s use of numerology, we go a little deeper this
time with the interesting fact that the pause before nature itself shudders in
revulsion from Adam eating the apple occurs exactly on line 999 of Chapter
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IX. Line 10000 actually begins the storm. Although we may be unsure what
Milton had in mind by these numbers matched with events, we can be sure
that it was not incidental (and probably has something to do with
numerology of ancient Mesopotamian religions).
Once again, Milton is showing the physical, macro results of an internal,
micro moral decision. The earth, i.e., nature itself, shutters when Adam takes
a bite of the apple. In this chapter and the next, the natural elements of earth
will crumble and become corrupted in the sense in the sense that natural
disasters, and violence between species, will become the norm. Earth will
then become a mixture of the types of nature seen in both heaven and hell. It
will, at times, be spectacularly beautiful, full of light and blooming in
colours. It will also, however, have its dark times, be engulfed in floods and
flames, and look more like an unordered hell.
The physical descriptions of Adam and Eve have changed as well. They
no longer glow with joy, they are less angelic in their nature, and, within
hours of eating the apple, they are prone to new, irrational emotions ranging
from anger to deep depression. As well, they see each other differently as
well. Specifically, they are more interested, and worried, about their
genetalia than ever before. The reproductive organs suddenly take on a value
(they are evil in that they lead to lust), which was hereto unheard of when
Adam and Eve lacked knowledge.
For Milton, the interior state of the soul is displayed visibly in the
physical. Sin is always visible.

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“Paradise Lost” is a poem about the nature of man. The Biblical story of
the fall and its consequences serve as a framework to get the desired aim.
The exposure of human nature is made through the characters of Adam and
Eve. Both are like and unlike human beings.
Prior to Satan’s entry into the Garden of Eden, they are unlike human
beings. The degree of innocence, simplicity, credulity, nobility, gentleness,
obedience, submission and purity, which the reader finds in them, is hard to
be found in human beings. They are more angels-like and less like us.
However, after Eve’s debate with Adam over the separation of their labours
till repentance that they become attractive and representatives of universal
human nature.
It is first of all Eve who attracts our attention. She argues with Adam over
the division of work. Her dissatisfaction, doubts and complaints are familiar
thinking processes of human psychic make up. The complaining wife tries to
convince her contended husband that their work to maintain the Garden of
Eden is beyond their capacity that all their efforts to keep the garden well
trimmed have failed, hence, there is pressing desirability to divide their
labours. The important thing to note is the presence of germs of evil in Eve’s
mind, which is another, proof of her being a real human being. She, on the
one hand, calls God unjust by complaining of excessive work while on the
other hand, finds faults with Divine Plan, which enjoins them to work
together. In short, her complaints and suggestions are natural to human mind.
Adam’s disagreement corresponds to the thinking of the typical God
fearing human being. His arguments are sensible and logical but they are
thoroughly coloured with religious sentiments like a gentle husband, he
advises Eve not to criticize Divine Scheme because it is not binding on them
to keep on working and to do nothing else. He further expresses his
apprehension like a true Christian. He thinks that the ‘crafty importer’ would
prefer to seduce one of them instead of seducing both. It is worth noting that
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Adam is too gentle to attract reader’s attention. Unlike Eve, he loves to live
a life of obedience and submission. At the same time, Adam has a noble
disposition, but neither he is authoritative nor assertive. The reader gets
some dim glimpses of his Uxuriousness.
Eve exposes typical female psychology by insisting upon her original
plan. She wrongly interprets Adam by saying that if they confine themselves
within a small area and remain all the time in a state of fear; their life cannot
be called happy. Like a kind-hearted man, Adam reassures her that he does
not doubt Eve’s virtuosity. What he means to say is that union is strength;
when together they would administer to withstand any trial easily. He
idealizes Eve that it is in her presence, he feels stronger and more
Eve reveals obstinacy in her behaviour. She once again gives clear
indication of the presence of germs of evil in her mind. She advances a novel
argument that God has not made them so imperfectly that they should be
incapable of meeting danger or temptation individually. The implication of
Eve’s argument is that if she fails to resist the temptation singly. It would
mean that God made her imperfect. She becomes representative of universal
human nature by showing her inclination towards evil. There is blend of
both good and evil in Eve, though good dominates. Eve becomes more
attractive human being than Adam as she behaves, talks and thinks, like an
average human being.
Adam is more reasonable and convincing than Eve in his arguments. He
rightly feels there is danger inherent in the fact that man may loose control
over his own faculties or the devil might drag him into fraud and deception
through something that seems too good and fair and that freewill requires to
be exercised under the constant control of reason. Thus instead of endorsing
Eve’s desire for independence and liberty he advises her to remain within
the limits of divine rules and regulations. He knows that whosoever violates
the human limits will be punished by God. His apprehensions are that of a
true Christian. He also becomes a spokesman of human nature.
By now it becomes clear that exposure of human nature is central to
“Paradise Lost”. Both Adam and Eve are the proto-types of universal human
nature. Hence, both are like human beings therefore attract our attention and

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The climax of “Paradise Lost” is the fall of Adam and Eve. They
become the victim of forbidden fruit, on the temptation of Satan. In the guise
of serpent he secretly entered the Garden of Eden in order to frustrate God’s
plan about the new creation. The whole of this episode is described in a
dramatic and epic style. Exchange of dialogue, interaction of characters,
suspense and the interplay of the feelings of frustration, independence,
warning, partition, flattery, praise, benefits, tough reasoning, silent thinking
taste, effect of fruit, pride, superiority, pathos, love, relish companionship
with Eve, nakedness, lustfulness and quarrel are the sources of dramatic
element in Book IX of “Paradise Lost”. But the major source is the internal
and external conflict of characters. It is important to note here that the
element of epic grandeur is never lost.
The first dramatic situation is the scene when Eve advances her
suggestion that she and Adam would accomplish more if they were to divide
their labour. She also criticizes on the ground that the work, which they do
in Paradise, is somewhat more than their capacities permit. Her
dissatisfaction with the order of things is a pointer towards her tragic and
ominous fall. Adam in his turn dismisses Eve’s suggestion in a gentle way.
He says that they are stronger when united. He also expresses his doubts
about the wisdom of Eve’s plan; she may be found by “the malicious foe”.
Hence, Adam insists that “the attempt itself” should be abided. Eve agrees
about the existence of such an enemy but she is hurt at Adam’s opinion that
she could be shaken or reduced. The argument with Adam ends when he
allows her to work independently whenever she likes. Adam is embarrassed
where Eve is happy at her newfound independence.
This newfound emancipation is the concept of liberty, which has been a
point of discussion for critics. As far as Milton is concerned, he does not
approve of this kind of liberty. The event of the fall would not have taken
place if Adam and Eve have remained together.
Moreover, separation of Adam and Eve is directly against God’s plan
that had devised an interdependent life programme for them. Violation of
interdependent relationship becomes a tragic flaw. We compare this concept
of liberty with the concept of liberty enunciated by Satan in Book 1, there is
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a clear-cut difference. Satan rebels against God on account of injured merit.
He thinks that God was rewarding him in view of his qualities and merits.
Satan’s rebellion germinates from his intense hatred for God. He prefers to
reign in hell than serve in Heaven, Satan’s concept of liberty is, in short a,
direct challenge to God’s authority. On the other hand, the concept of liberty
expressed in Book IX and enacted through the character of Eve is a matter of
difference of opinion with God’s way of doing things. If we take these two
concepts of liberty together, one thing at least is sure that God does not
approve any of these.
The next scene portrays Satan and Eve. Here the drama is at its height.
If the scene with Adam is exposition, the scene with Satan is the
development of action. Finding Eve alone at the early hours of the day,
Satan becomes happy and makes his way towards her. Milton writes about
Satan’s advancements in descriptive. This descriptive passage serves the
purpose of pause in action and enhances the effect of suspense because it
prepares us for the great events that are to follow. Reaching Eve, Satan
flatters her in the manner of a court poet.
Satan tells her that she is a
“Goddess among gods”.
Eve is flattered by her praise but at the same moment she is surprised at
he serpent’s capacity for speech. She becomes curious and desires to know
more about the reptile’s power of speech. This gives Satan an opportunity to
continue his dialogue with her. He gives an account how he came to eat the
fruit of “A godly Tree”. He describes the physical as well as intellectual
pleasures, which he got from the fruit of that tree. Eve is compelled by her
inquisitive nature and she asks him to show her the tree. On seeing the tree
Eve bends her head because it was the forbidden tree. Eve tells the serpent
that she has been forbidden to taste its fruit. Here the serpent shows a great
psychological understanding of the character of Eve. He delivers a powerful
rhetorical speech. He turns his attention away from Eve to the tree, itself. He
addresses the tree in the following words:
“O sacred, wise and wisdom-giving plant. Mother of Science…”
In this way he withdraws his pressure from Eve for a moment, but at
once catches her and starts with his usual manner of flattery.
He calls her “Queen of this universe” and informs her that there is no
need to believe in the threats of death. The serpent traps her in his arguments
in such a way that there is no way out left for her. He asks her if the tree
offers knowledge of good how can it be just of God to refuse such
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knowledge. And if it offers knowledge of evil, why they should be effused
since one Evil is known, it may be “easier to shun”.
He further tells her that God would praise their courage for eating the
fruit of this tree. Eve is completely nonplussed at the argument of the
famous temptation speech. But before committing the fatal sin, she pauses
and thinks. Her thinking at that moment is a kind of soliloquy. What she
reasons out is much more effective than the temptation speech of Satan. She
argues that the prohibition is unreasonable since it prevents her from judging
the very problem, which it raises. Ignorance of evil keeps her away from the
full importance of goodness. But the irony is that her conclusion is based on
Satan’s lie that he had tasted the forbidden fruit. She unmindful of all things
plucks the fruit and greedily eats it. The immediate effect of eating the fruit is
that there is an upheaval of Nature, which sighs through all his works.
Nevertheless, it is Satan’s encounter with Eve that Milton has exposed
some of the prominent facets of human nature namely internal and external
conflict between opposing forces, curiosity, vanity, love of flattery, self
projection, self interest, failure to distinguish between the appearance and
reality, greed etc. Since most of these aspects of human nature, we find in
Eve’s personality, she appears more attractive than Adam. She is closer to
normal, average and common human beings.
Satan is a con artist of a very high order. He adopts the right channel to
seduce Eve. He flatters her in the persuasive manner. That Eve is trapped to
Satan and it does not seem unnatural. His attack is well planned and well
executed. Eve’s failure to see beyond false appearance is the predicament of
almost each and every human being.
Satan hypnotizes Eve and succeeds in bringing her reason under his
control by yelling fibs that his comprehension got sound and his vision
broadened after he tasted the forbidden fruit. Accordingly, her curiosity
inflated to the maximum. Like Faustus, she surrenders and gladly submits to
Satan’s guidance. Her response or reaction is not surprising though it is
shocking and painful.
It is an open secret that in the course of their life the human beings get
strayed and run after false, illusive and hollow ideals. “Paradise Lost” is
fundamentally a poem about the nature of man.
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The last act of the drama of fall also depicts several shades of human
nature. It is once again Eve who becomes Milton’s mouthpiece. After tasting
the forbidden fruit on the one hand, she develops a sense of superiority while
on the other hand exposes typical female jealously. She is worried that if
death comes and claims her life. Adam might marry another Eve.
On catching sight of Eve with a branch of tree of knowledge in her
hand, Adam’s temptation is different from that of Eve. In Adam’s case his
passions overrule his reason. He tastes the forbidden fruit out of sheer love
for Eve. His act of disobedience confirms him a real human being of flesh
and blood. Afterwards, their last sexual act bickering, realization, shedding
of tears, feeling of remorse and repentance are typical to human beings.

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