The Biblical fall of man is explored at length in John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” Originally published in 1667, this tale of Satan’s expulsion from Heaven and his subsequent meddling with Adam and Eve is considered one of the greatest literary works of all time. Milton wrestles with a number of... read more
Paradise Lost is Milton's perspective of the events at the beginning of human history according to Genesis. Milton takes liberties in recalling the story, adding details and discussions that are not included in the original tale. Milton takes a deeper look into the psyche of God, the Devil,... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Paradise Lost is Milton's perspective of the events at the beginning of human history according to Genesis. Milton takes liberties in recalling the story, adding details and discussions that are not included in the original tale. Milton takes a deeper look into the psyche of God, the Devil, and Eve as he attempts to understand their actions.
“Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;The world was all before them, where to chooseTheir place of rest, and Providence their guide:They hand in hand with wand’ring steps slow,Through Eden took their solitary way.”Book XII, lines 645-649
“. . . though bothNot equal, as thir sex not equal seem’d;For contemplation hee and valor form’d,For softness shee and sweet attractive Grace,Hee for God only, shee for God in him:His fair large Front and Eye sublime declar’dAbsolute rule; and Hyacinthine LocksRound from his parted forelock manly hungClust’ring, but not beneath his shoulders broad:Shee as a veil down to the slender waistHer unadorned golden tresses woreDishevell’d, but in wanton ringlets wav’dAs the Vine curls her tendrils, which impli’dSubjection, but requir’d with gentle sway,And by her yielded, by him best receiv’d,Yielded with coy submission, modest pride,And sweet reluctant amorous delay. (IV.295–311)”The narrator makes these observations in Book IV as Adam and Eve prepare for bed. The narrator compares Adam and Eve based on their appearance and general demeanor, reasoning from that in order to assess their spiritual value.
“What better can we do, than to placeRepairing where he judg’d us, prostrate fallBefore him reverent, and there confessHumbly our faults, and pardon beg, with tearsWatering the ground, and with our sighs theAir Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in signOf sorrow unfeign’d, and humiliation meek.Undoubtedly he will relent and turnFrom his displeasure; in whose look serene,When angry most he seem’d and most severe,What else but favor, grace, and mercy shone?So spake our Father penitent, nor EveFelt less remorse: they forthwith to the placeRepairing where he judg’d them prostrate fellBefore him reverent, and both confess’dHumbly their faults, and pardon begg’d, with tearsWatering the ground, and with their sighs theAir Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in signOf sorrow unfeign’d, and humiliation meek. (X.1086–1104)”These lines at the end of Book X, first spoken by Adam, and then narrated by Milton, relate Adam and Eve’s decision to pray to God for forgiveness and their subsequent action of prayer.
“This having learnt, thou hast attained the sumOf Wisdom; hope no higher, though all the StarsThou knew’st by name, and all th’ ethereal Powers,All secrets of the deep, all Nature’s works,Or works of God in Heav’n, Air, Earth, or Sea,And all riches of this World enjoy’dst,And all the rule, one Empire: only addDeeds to thy knowledge answerable, add Faith,Add Virtue, Patience, Temperance, add Love,By name to come called Charity, the soulOf all the rest: then wilt though not be lothTo leave this Paradise, but shalt possessA paradise within thee, happier far. (XII.575–587)”These lines are spoken by Michael to Adam in Book XII just before Adam and Eve are led out of Paradise. Michael tries to explain to Adam that even though Eve and him have fallen from grace and must leave Paradise, they can still lead a fruitful life.
“Hail holy Light, offspring of Heav’n first-born,Or of th’ Eternal Coeternal beamMay I express thee unblam’d? since God is Light,And never but in unapproached LightDwelt from Eternity, dwelt then in thee,Bright effluence of bright essence increate.. . .thee I revisit safe,And feel thy Sovran vital Lamp; but thouRevisit’st not these eyes, that roll in vainTo find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;So thick a drop serene hath quencht thir Orbs,Or dim suffusion veil’d. Yet not the moreCease I to wander where the Muses hauntClear Spring, or shady Grove, or Sunny Hill,Smit with the love of sacred Song . . .. . .So much the rather thou Celestial LightShine inward, and the mind through all powersIrradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thencePurge and disperse, that I may see and tellOf things invisible to mortal sight. (III.1–6; 21–29; 51–55)”These passages from Book III make up part of Milton’s second and longest invocation, which is also his most autobiographical and symbolic. Milton refers to light simultaneously as divine wisdom and literal light. When he speaks about his blindness he refers to both his inward blindness, or lack of divine wisdom, and his literal blindness, or loss of eyesight.
“Of Man’s First Disobedience, and the FruitOf that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tasteBrought Death into the World, and all our woe,With loss of Eden, till one greater ManRestore us, and regain the blissfulSeat, Sing Heav’nly Muse, that on the secret topOf Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspireThat Shepherd, who first taught the chosenSeed, In the Beginning how the Heav’ns and EarthRose out of Chaos: Or if Sion HillDelight thee more, and Siloa’s Brook that flow’dFast by the Oracle of God; I thenceInvoke thy aid to my advent’rous Song,That with no middle flight intends to soarAbove th’ Aonian Mount, while it pursuesThings unattempted yet in Prose or Rhyme. (I.1–26)”With these lines, Milton begins Paradise Lost and lays the groundwork for his project, presenting his purpose, subject, aspirations, and need for heavenly guidance.
“Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.”
“Let none admire that riches grow in hell; that soil may best deserve the precious bane”
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