Paradise Lost Summary. Paradise Lost Book is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton (1608–1674). The first version, published in 1667, consists of ten books with over ten thousand lines of verse. A second edition followed in 1674, arranged into twelve books (in the manner of Virgil's Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout.
It is considered to be Milton's masterpiece, and it helped solidify his reputation as one of the greatest English poets of all time. The poem concerns the biblical story of the fall of man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
|Paradise Lost Summary
Paradise Lost Summary
Paradise Lost recreates the biblical story of the fall of man, starting with the first fall, that of a group of rebel angels in Heaven. Satan, one of God’s most cherished and powerful angels, grows angry when God creates the Son and proclaims that Son as leader. Satan asserts his own authority and power when he organizes a group of rebel angels against God, leading to the Angelic War, which ends in no deaths but much pain. The Son defeats the rebels, who are cast into Hell.
After this civil war, God creates the first man, Adam. Lonely, Adam requests a companion, and so God makes Eve from Adam’s flesh. Eve is beautiful, intelligent, and in love with Adam; she is also curious and hungry for knowledge. Adam and Eve begin in a close relationship with God. They live in Paradise, in the Garden of Eden. God gives them the power to rule over all creation with only one command: They cannot eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. God warns that if they eat from the tree, they will die.
Meanwhile, in Hell, Satan concocts a plan to destroy man in an act of revenge. He journeys to Earth, tricking the angel Uriel into showing him where man lives. After finding Adam and Eve in Paradise, he grows jealous of them, for they have God’s favor. He overhears Adam and Eve talking about the forbidden fruit. He disguises himself as a serpent, cunning and deceptive. He tricks Eve into eating the forbidden fruit.
Adam learns of Eve’s sin and knows that she must die. He chooses to eat the forbidden fruit, too, feeling bound to Eve because they are from the same flesh. Adam and Eve both know they have sinned. They fall asleep and have terrible nightmares. When they awake, they both feel guilt and shame for disobeying God. On bended knee, they beg God for forgiveness.
With mankind fallen, Satan returns to Hell to celebrate his triumph. As soon as he finishes his victory speech, he and all his followers turn into snakes without limbs or the ability to speak.
God sends the Archangel Michael to escort Adam and Eve from Paradise. Before expelling them, Michael shows Adam the future—the events resulting from the original sin. The vision shows everything that will happen to mankind, tracing events from Cain and Abel up to the redemption of sin through Jesus Christ. With a mixture of sadness and hope, Adam and Eve leave Paradise.
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Paradise Lost Themes
Disobedience and the Fall of Man: The central theme revolves around Adam and Eve's disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit, leading to their expulsion from Eden and the introduction of sin and suffering into the world. The poem explores the complexities of their decision, their motivations, and the consequences of their actions, delving into themes of temptation, knowledge, and responsibility.
Free Will vs. Predestination: Throughout the narrative, Milton grapples with the question of whether humans have genuine free will or are ultimately under the control of divine providence. This theological debate manifests in the actions of the characters, particularly Satan's rebellion against God and Adam and Eve's choice to disobey. The poem leaves the reader contemplating the extent of human agency and the interplay between divine guidance and personal decisions.
The Nature of Evil and Rebellion: Satan, the iconic antagonist, personifies the theme of evil and rebellion. His ambition, pride, and envy drive him to corrupt God's creation and challenge divine authority. Milton explores the psychological motivations for evil and the seductive nature of rebellion, offering a multifaceted portrayal of Satan that goes beyond a simple caricature of the devil.
Redemption and Grace: Despite the bleak picture of sin and its consequences, the poem offers a glimmer of hope through the theme of redemption. The promise of Christ's future sacrifice as a mediator between God and humanity signifies the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation. This theme suggests that even in the face of profound corruption, there remains a path towards spiritual renewal and divine grace.
Loss and Mourning: The expulsion from Eden marks a profound loss of innocence and paradise for Adam and Eve. The poem poignantly depicts their grief and alienation, exploring the emotional and psychological repercussions of their transgression. This theme resonates with universal experiences of loss and the search for meaning and solace in the face of suffering.
Love and Marriage: The relationship between Adam and Eve plays a significant role in the narrative, showcasing both the power of love and its vulnerability to temptation. Their bond is tested by Satan's deception and their own internal struggles, raising questions about trust, communication, and the true nature of marital love.
Knowledge and Reason vs. Faith: The poem explores the tension between human reason and faith in divine authority. Adam and Eve's pursuit of knowledge leads to their downfall, while Satan uses logic and rhetoric to manipulate and deceive. However, the poem also acknowledges the limitations of human understanding and the importance of faith in transcending earthly limitations.
Order and Chaos: The cosmic conflict between God and Satan reflects a larger theme of order versus chaos. Satan's rebellion disrupts the harmony of heaven, while Adam and Eve's disobedience introduces disorder into the natural world. The poem grapples with the forces that maintain order and the potential for chaos to erupt, exploring the precarious balance between good and evil and the human struggle to maintain harmony in a fallen world.
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Questions and Answers about Paradise Lost Poem
What is the short summary of Paradise Lost Book? The poem is a retelling of the story of Adam and Eve from the biblical book of Genesis which describes the creation of Heaven and Earth and of Adam and Eve. This poem fleshes out this story and imagines the couple's reactions to the events that led to them being expelled from the Garden of Eden (or Paradise).
What is the main idea of Paradise Lost? Paradise Lost has many themes: free will, obedience, revenge, and pride. The main theme Milton confronts in his writing is the question of free will or predestination, or whether or not humans make their own choices or whether they are fated.
What is Paradise Lost book One about? This first Book proposes, first in brief, the whole Subject, Mans disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was plac't: Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the Serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his side many Legions of Angels.
What is the conclusion of Paradise Lost? At the end of Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve are sent out from the Garden of Eden as punishment for their disobedience. They are no longer immortal and must suffer the ravages of sickness, injury, and age.
Who is the hero of Paradise Lost summary? The story of mankind's fall from Eden as written by John Milton in his epic poem Paradise Lost portrays a classically heroic Satan and a modern hero in God's Son, Jesus Christ. While Satan fits the archetype of an epic hero, he is in fact showing readers that classic heroes are not the true savoirs of the people.
Why is it important to read Paradise Lost? Many scholars consider Paradise Lost to be one of the greatest poems in the English language. It tells the biblical story of the fall from grace of Adam and Eve (and, by extension, all humanity) in language that is a supreme achievement of rhythm and sound.
Who is sin in Paradise Lost? Sin is an allegorical character, met by Satan at the gates of Hell in Book II of Paradise Lost. She holds the key to Hell's gate and opens the gate so that Satan (her father) can pass through on his way up to heaven.
Who is to blame in Paradise Lost? In both the Bible and in Paradise Lost, Eve is to blame from humankind's exile for the Garden of Eden and for giving into Satan's temptation. Throughout the epic poem, Milton shows Eve's progression from an independent woman to a dependent woman to show that women are not born submissive.