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Encyclopedia > Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost

Title page of the first edition (1667)
Author John Milton
Country England
Language English
Genre(s) Epic poem
Publisher Samuel Simmons (original)
Publication date 1667
Media type Print

Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books; a second edition followed in 1674, redivided into twelve books (in the manner of the division of Virgil's Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout and a note on the versification. The poem concerns the Judeo-Christian story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton's purpose, stated in Book I, is "to justify the ways of God to men" (l. 26) and elucidate the conflict between God's eternal foresight and free will. Paradise Lost is an epic poem by John Milton. ... Image File history File links Milton_paradise. ... For other persons named John Milton, see John Milton (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... In mathematics, see epic morphism. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... // Events January 20 - Poland cedes Kyiv, Smolensk, and eastern Ukraine to Russia in the Treaty of Andrusovo that put a final end to the Deluge, and Poland lost its status as a Central European power. ... ISBN redirects here. ... In mathematics, see epic morphism. ... Blank verse is a type of poetry, distinguished by having a regular meter, but no rhyme. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... For other persons named John Milton, see John Milton (disambiguation). ... // Events January 20 - Poland cedes Kyiv, Smolensk, and eastern Ukraine to Russia in the Treaty of Andrusovo that put a final end to the Deluge, and Poland lost its status as a Central European power. ... Events February 19 - England and the Netherlands sign the Treaty of Westminster. ... For other uses, see Virgil (disambiguation). ... Aeneas flees burning Troy, Federico Barocci, 1598 Galleria Borghese, Rome The Aeneid (IPA English pronunciation: ; in Latin Aeneis, pronounced — the title is Greek in form: genitive case Aeneidos) is a Latin epic written by Virgil in the 1st century BC (between 29 and 19 BC) that tells the legendary story... Jacob wrestling an angel, by Gustave Doré (1832-1883), a shared Judeo-Christian story. ... Adam, Eve, and a female serpent (possibly Lilith) at the entrance to Notre Dame de Paris In Abrahamic religion, the Fall of Man, the Story of the Fall, or simply, the Fall, refers to mans transition from a state of innocence to a state of knowing only dualities such... Michelangelos Creation of Adam, from the Sistine Chapel. ... For other uses, see Garden of Eden (disambiguation). ... The study of the future researches the medium-term to long-term future of societies and of the physical world. ... Free-Will is a Japanese independent record label founded in 1986. ...

The protagonist of this epic is the fallen angel, Satan. Seen from a modern perspective, it may appear to some that Milton presents Satan sympathetically, as an ambitious and proud being who defies his creator, omnipotent God, and wages war on Heaven, only to be defeated and cast down. Indeed, William Blake, a great admirer of Milton and illustrator of the epic poem, said of Milton that "he was a true Poet, and of the Devil's party without knowing it."[1] Some critics [citation needed] regard the character of Lucifer as a precursor of the Byronic hero.[2] For other uses, see Fallen angel (disambiguation). ... This article is about the concept of Satan. ... This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... For other uses, see Heaven (disambiguation). ... William Blake (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827) was an English poet, visionary, painter, and printmaker. ... The Byronic hero is an idealized, but flawed, character exemplified in the life and writings of Lord Byron, characterized by his ex-lover Lady Caroline Lamb as being mad, bad and dangerous to know.[1] The Byronic hero first appears in Byrons semi-autobiographical epic narrative poem Childe Harold...

Milton worked for Oliver Cromwell and thus wrote first-hand for the English Commonwealth. Arguably, the failed rebellion and reinstallation of the monarchy left him to explore his losses within Paradise Lost. Some critics say that he sympathized with the Satan in this work, in that both had experienced a failed cause. For other uses, see Oliver Cromwell (disambiguation). ... The Commonwealth was the republican government which ruled first England and then the whole of Britain, Ireland, the colonies and other Crown possessions during the periods from 1649 (the monarch Charles I being beheaded on January 30 and An Act declaring England to be a Commonwealth being passed by the...

The story is innovative in that it attempts to reconcile the Christian and Pagan traditions: like Shakespeare, Milton found Christian theology lacking, requiring something more. He tries to incorporate Paganism, classical Greek references and Christianity within the story. He greatly admired the classics but intended this work to surpass them. Pagan and heathen redirect here. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ...

The poem grapples with many difficult theological issues, including fate, predestination, and the Trinity. Look up fate, Fates in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Predestination (also linked with foreknowledge) is a religious concept, which involves the relationship between the beginning of things and their destinies. ... This article is about the Christian Trinity. ...



Lucifer, the main protagonist of Paradise Lost, as drawn by Gustave Doré.
Lucifer, the main protagonist of Paradise Lost, as drawn by Gustave Doré.

The story is divided into twelve books against Homer's twenty-four of the Iliad and Odyssey. The length varies, from the longest being Book IX, with 1189 lines and the shortest, Book VII, having 640. Each book is preceded by a summary titled "The Argument". The poem follows the epic tradition of starting in medias res (Latin for in the midst of things), the background story being told in Books V-VI. Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (626x710, 147 KB)Satan, as drawn by Gustave Dore, in John Miltons Paradise Lost The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States and in those countries with a copyright... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (626x710, 147 KB)Satan, as drawn by Gustave Dore, in John Miltons Paradise Lost The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States and in those countries with a copyright... Doré photographed by Felix Nadar. ... title page of the Rihel edition of ca. ... For other uses, see Odyssey (disambiguation). ... In medias res, also medias in res (Latin for into the middle of things) is a literary and artistic technique where the narrative starts in the middle of the story instead of from its beginning (ab ovo or ab initio). ...

Milton's story contains two arcs: one of Satan (Lucifer) and another of Adam and Eve. Lucifer's story is a homage to the old epics of warfare. It begins in medias res, after Lucifer and the other rebel angels have been defeated and cast down by God into Hell. In Pandæmonium, Lucifer must employ his rhetorical ability to organize his followers; he is aided by his lieutenants Mammon and Beelzebub. At the end of the debate, Satan volunteers himself to poison the newly-created Earth. He braves the dangers of the Abyss alone in a manner reminiscent of Odysseus or Aeneas. This article is about the theological or philosophical afterlife. ... Pandæmonium is the capital of Hell in epic poem Paradise Lost by the 17th century English poet John Milton. ... This article is about the star or fallen angel. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... “Belzebub” redirects here. ... This article is about Earth as a planet. ... An abyss (Greek: a-, privative, bussos, bottom) is a bottomless depth; hence any deep place. ... For other uses, see Odyssey (disambiguation). ... Aeneas flees burning Troy, Federico Barocci, 1598 Galleria Borghese, Rome The Aeneid (IPA English pronunciation: ; in Latin Aeneis, pronounced — the title is Greek in form: genitive case Aeneidos) is a Latin epic written by Virgil in the 1st century BC (between 29 and 19 BC) that tells the legendary story...

The other story is a fundamentally different, new kind of epic: a domestic one. Adam and Eve are presented for the first time in Christian literature as having a functional relationship while still without sin. They have passions, personalities, and sex. Satan successfully tempts Eve by preying on her vanity and tricking her with rhetoric, and Adam, seeing Eve has sinned, knowingly commits the same sin by also eating of the fruit. In this manner Milton portrays Adam as a heroic figure but also as a deeper sinner than Eve. They again have sex, but with a newfound lust that was previously not present. After realizing their error in consuming the "fruit" from the Tree of Knowledge, they fight. However, Eve's pleas to Adam reconcile them somewhat. Adam goes on a vision journey with an angel where he witnesses the errors of man and the Great Flood, and he is saddened by the sin that they have released through the consumption of the fruit. However, he is also shown hope Рthe possibility of redemption Рthrough a vision of Jesus Christ. They are then cast out of Eden and an angel adds that one may find "A paradise within thee, happier farr." They now have a more distant relationship with God, who is omnipresent but invisible (unlike the previous tangible Father in the garden of Eden). For other uses, see Sin (disambiguation). ... Rhetoric (from Greek , rh̻t̫r, orator, teacher) is generally understood to be the art or technique of persuasion through the use of oral, visual, or written language; however, this definition of rhetoric has expanded greatly since rhetoric emerged as a field of study in universities. ... This article is about the type of character. ... For other uses, see Sin (disambiguation). ... Tree of Knowledge may refer to: The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil mentioned in the Book of Genesis The Bodhi tree under which the Buddha received enlightenment according to Buddhism The metaphysical Tree of Jiva and Atman in Vedic mythology The Axis mundi, or world axis, which takes... This article is about great floods. ...

The contents of the 12 books are:
Book I: In a long, twisting opening sentence, the poet invokes the "Heavenly Muse" (the Holy Spirit) and states his theme, the Fall of Man, and his aim, to "justify the ways of God to men". Satan, Beelzebub, and the other rebel angels are described as lying on a lake of fire, from where Satan rises up to claim hell as his own domain and delivers a rousing speech to his followers ("Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven").
Book II: Satan and the rebel angels debate whether or not to conduct another war on Heaven, and Beelzebub tells them of a new world being built, which is to be the home of Man. Satan decides to visit this new world, passes through the gates of Hell, past the sentries Sin and Death, and journeys through the realm of Chaos. Here, Satan is described as giving birth to Sin with a burst of flame from his forehead, as Athena was born from the head of Zeus.
Book III: God observes Satan's journey and foretells how Satan will bring about Man's Fall. God emphasizes, however, that the Fall will come about as a result of Man's own free will and excuses Himself of responsibility. The Son of God offers himself as a ransom for Man's disobedience, an offer which God accepts, ordaining the Son's future incarnation and punishment. Satan arrives at the rim of the universe, disguises himself as an angel, and is directed to Earth by Uriel, Guardian of the Sun.
Book IV: Satan journeys to the Garden of Eden, where he observes Adam and Eve discussing the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. Satan, observing their innocence and beauty hesitates in his task, but concludes that "...reason, honour and empire..." compel him to do this deed which he "should abhor." Satan tries to tempt Eve while she is sleeping, but is discovered by the angels. The angel Gabriel expels Satan from the Garden.
Book V: Eve awakes and relates her dream to Adam. God sends Raphael to warn and encourage Adam: they discuss free will and predestination and Raphael tells Adam the story of how Satan inspired his angels to revolt against God.
Book VI: Raphael goes on to describe further the war in Heaven and explains how the Son of God drove Satan and his minions down to Hell.
Book VII: Raphael explains to Adam that God then decided to create another world (the Earth), and he warns Adam again not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, for "in the day thou eat'st, thou diest;/ Death is the penalty imposed, beware,/ And govern well thy appetite, lest Sin/ Surprise thee, and her black attendant Death".
Book VIII: Adam asks Raphael for knowledge concerning the stars and the heavenly orders; Raphael warns that "heaven is for thee too high/ To know what passes there; be lowly wise", and advises modesty and patience.
Book IX: Satan returns to Eden and enters into the body of a sleeping serpent. The serpent tempts Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. She eats and takes some fruit for Adam. Adam realizes that Eve has been tricked, but eats of the fruit, deciding that he would rather die with Eve than live without her. At first the two become intoxicated by the fruit, and both become lustful and sleep together; afterwards, in their loss of innocence Adam and Eve cover their nakedness and fall into despair: "They sat them down to weep, nor only tears/ Rained at their eyes, but high winds worse within/ Began to rise, high passions, anger, hate,/ Mistrust, suspicion, discord, and shook greatly/ Their inward state of mind."
Book X: God sends his Son to Eden to deliver judgment on Adam and Eve, and Satan returns in triumph to Hell.
Book XI: The Son of God pleads with God on behalf of Adam and Eve. God declares that the couple must be expelled from the Garden, and the angel Michael descends to deliver God's judgment. Michael begins to unfold the future history of the world to Adam.
Book XII: Michael tells Adam of the eventual coming of the Messiah, before leading Adam and Eve from the Garden. Paradise has been lost. The poem ends: "The world was all before them, /They hand in hand with wandering steps and slow,/ Through Eden took their solitary way." For other uses, see Athena (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Zeus (disambiguation). ... Dyonisius: Fresco depicting archangel Uriel. ...

Subject Matter

Though the Holy Bible is a book composed of most major genres of literary history, not one story within the book encounters so many genres in one story as Paradise Lost. Drawn from about 1500 books, scholars estimate, Paradise Lost (Published in 1667) is an epic account of The Fall of man from the perspective of Satan. Satan begins his story by attempting to “justify the ways of God to man” (BABL. 26) Satan explains his own fall from heaven along with a third of heaven’s angles, into the deep or void (the earth had not yet been made) called Chaos. He then goes on to tell how those of Hell deliberated with him as to whether or not they should war with those in heaven yet again and attempt to overthrow it. Once agreed upon, Satan struggles through Chaos from Heaven to Hell. Traditional Christians may argue that this is an unbiblical ability according to the Gospel of Luke chapter 16 in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, “…between us and you a great chasm has been fixed , so that those that want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us” (NKJV v.26). Perhaps the ability to transfer from one immaterial place to another differs between composites of form and matter or soul and body (humans) and pure spirit. However, this is not even an issue in this context, even though Hell is a state of mind, “the hell within him; for within him Hell he brings, and round about him, nor from Hell one step, no more than from himself, can fly by change of place” (BABL. 20-22)

Later on in the poem, Satan goes on to introduce Death and Sin. Satan has sex with Death because, while Satan is a narcissist, Death looks exactly like him, therefore attracting him to the image of himself. After the intercourse, Sin is birthed from the head of Satan, a replica of the birth of the Greek god Athena. Just as Athena had two physical natures, being both male and female, so it is with Death being half beautiful woman, and half serpent. Death carries the image of sin because it looks beautiful, but is a very deadly thing. Hell-hounds are attached to the waist of Death, constantly running in and out of her being re-birthed and devouring Death’s body. In book 4, Adam and Eve are introduced for the first time. Milton’s idea of marriage is very much influenced in this section. Their relationship is one of inequality, but not a relation of domination or hierarchy. There is a mutual friendship between the two and they also model the ideal ruler and subject. For Milton, this marriage is political ideal just as much as it is a personal ideal. Satan also describes their personalities. Eve is a described as a '"coy", flirtatious, beautiful, sex object that Adam is overwhelmed by"' (Rust), or “too much, too ornament.” (8.539) Adam is seen as more of an intellectual. Though there is no sin within paradise, Adam and Eve have an argument about the care of the land. Eve thinks the garden is growing too fast and that the two should split up while working to cover more ground, thus accomplishing more. Adam disagrees and says that time is not an issue for them, therefore they were meant to enjoy their work and not rush it. This disagreement would begin the stirring up their hearts, making them more vulnerable to the temptation that was to come. Adam consents to Eve’s wishes and they split up during their work. Satan, as the serpent in the garden, made ready to fool Eve through the process of reduction.

In the last three chapters after the Fall, the Son of God intercedes for Adam and Eve and the Father accepts. However, he commands the angel Michael to ban Adam and Eve from the garden. In doing so, Michael give Adam a vision of the Flood, and life and death of Christ, revealing to him the way of redemption. Adam and Eve’s lives carry on but they are driven out from the Garden of Eden.

Works Cited:

Zondervan Publishing House, The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (1984)

Character Analysis

Satan: Satan is the first major character introduced in the poem. He is introduced in Hell after a failed rebellion to take control of Heaven from God. Satan’s desire to rebel against his creator stems from his unwillingness to accept the fact that he is a created being and that he is not self sufficient, which roots in turn from his extreme narcissism. One of the ways he tries to justify his rebellion against God is by claiming that he and the angels are self-created, claiming that the angels are “self-begot, self-raised”(5.60), thereby eliminating God’s authority over them as their creator. (Lehnhoff 23) Satan’s views are grossly distorted, however. Satan is narcissistic to the point of being delusional, as shown by his encounter with Sin and Death. Although they are introduced as if they are separate entities from Satan, Sin and Death can both be read as delusions of Satan’s mind. (Rust) Sin describes herself as sprouting out of Satan’s mind at the time he conceived of his plot to overthrow God, which perhaps could be taken for the fact that she is only a part of Satan, specifically his sinful scheme to overthrow God, that he is projecting into the world. She is described as originally having the same features as Satan, which shows the perversion of his narcissism, because Satan engages Sin in incestuous intercourse. Satan is narcissistic to the point of being aroused by his own image, and from his incest with his “daughter” Sin, Death is born. (Rust) Death too, however, is a delusion of Satan’s mind, having no substance or form, no real power. This reflects Milton’s Christian theology, because Christianity sees death as having no real power also. (Rust) Satan’s delusion is also shown when he leaves Hell. He goes up to the gates, which fly quickly open before him. Satan sets out to portray God as a tyrant, yet here Milton shows us that the Satan is not even locked in Hell. Milton portrays Hell also as a state of Satan’s mind in the opening of Book 4, talking of how Satan has “Hell within him; for within him Hell/ He brings…” (4.20-21) Milton shows us that Satan is creating his own internal Hell by his delusions and narcissism (Rust). The fact that Satan is such a driving force within the poem has been the subject of a large amount of scholarly debate, with positions ranging anywhere from views such as that of William Blake who stated that Milton “wrote in fetters when wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils and Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it” (anthology 996) to the critic William H. Marshall’s interpretation that the poem is in fact a Christian moral tale, but that Milton fails to portray his original intent because the reader’s emotional reaction to the story must be “subordinated to [his] intellectual response the explicit assertion in the final books of the Paradox of the Fortunate Fall.” (Marshall 19)

Adam: Adam is the first human in Eden created by God. He is the more intellectual of the two, with Eve being more rooted in experience. Positively, Adam is a model of a good ruler, gently leading Eve during their first encounter away from her reflection, using force but not excessively. Although he and Eve are not equal in the story, Adam is not an oppressive ruler. (Rust) He and Eve have a mutually dependant relationship. This illustrates Milton’s views on the relationship between ruler and subject as well as husband and wife. (Rust) Negatively, he like Satan shares the problem of lack of self-knowledge, but unlike Satan who is totally self-absorbed and narcissistic, Adam’s problem stems from the fact that he seems to be in danger of losing sight of himself. The cause of his loss of self is the beauty of Eve, which he complains about during his discourse with Raphael, saying that she is “too much, too ornament.” (8.539) He talks anxiously of how he feels like he is becoming dependant on Eve, who conversely seems to be self-sufficient and naturally independent. Adam is distraught by this because it would seem to him that she should be the one dependant because he was created first and she was made from a part of him, and yet as it stands he is becoming obsessed with Eve almost to the point of idolizing her (Stone 35). There is also an element of heresy to Adam even before the Fall. He wishes to avoid confrontation with Satan completely, even to the fact of being cowardly about it, denying the idea of the “felix culpa”, that the Fall might not be a bad thing, perhaps part of God’s greater plan. (Rust)

Eve: Eve is the second human created, taken from one of Adam’s ribs and formed into a female form of Adam. Positively, she is the model of a good subject and wife. She consents to Adam leading her away from her reflection when they first meet, trusting Adam’s authority in their relationship.(Rust) She is very beautiful, so much so that she is almost a danger to herself and Adam. Her beauty not only obsesses Adam, but also herself. After she is first born, she gazes at her own reflection in a pool of water and is transfixed by her own image. Even after Adam calls out to her she returns to her image. It is not until God tells her to go to Adam that she consents to being led away from the pool. This shows that from the beginning she is in danger of narcissism, much like Satan. She is also the first to come into contact with satanic influence; Satan worms his way into one of her dreams to tempt her. After this incident she seems to develop the independent streak that so perplexes Adam during his conversation with Raphael, wanting to go off by herself to work in the garden. She also develops the Satanic view of wanting to organize the garden, wishing to split up to get more work done, worrying that the garden is “messy” and wishing to impose some kind of order on it, which is Satan’s wish as well. (Rust) She eventually does give into temptation, being the first to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, effectively causing the Fall. She is not portrayed in a totally negative manner in the story, however; during her argument with Adam about whether or not they should split up, Adam says they should stay together in order to avoid temptation and implying that even to be tempted would be dishonorable to them, which is a flawed argument. Eve responds by taking a heroic stance, saying that if they would give into temptation that easily that their virtue must not have been very strong to begin with (Rust). This is not the only time Eve shows a heroic side either, despite her failings. After the Fall, Adam begins to blame her for everything that has gone wrong, acting as if she alone is the cause despite the fact that he willingly chose to sin also. Eve makes her stand here by humbly taking all the verbal abuse that Adam gives to her, instead of arguing and causing a further rift between them. By taking everything upon herself she is portrayed as Christ-figure, accepting fault that is not hers and bearing it for the sake of the future of humanity. (Doerksen 126)

The Son of God: the Son of God in Paradise Lost is Christ. After the Father explains to him how Adam and Eve will fall, and how the rest of humanity will be doomed to follow them in their cursed footsteps, the Son heroically proclaims that he will take the punishment for humanity. The Son gives hope to the poem because although Satan conquers humanity by successfully tempting Adam and Eve, the victory is temporary because the Son will save the human race (Marshall 17). Interestingly enough, the Son shows a major break with orthodox religious though on Milton’s part; the accepted belief at the time was that the Trinity were all part of the one Godhead, and thus all created at the same time, and yet Milton portrays the Son as being created after the Father. (Rust)

God the Father: God the Father is the creator of Eden, Hell, Heaven, and of each of he main characters in the poem. He is an all-powerful being whom cannot be overthrown by even the one-third of the angels that Satan incites against Him. The poem portrays God’s process of creation in the way that Milton believed it was done, that God created Heaven, Earth, Hell, and all the creatures that inhabit these separate planes from part of himself, not out of nothing. (Lehnhof 15) Thus according to Milton, what gives God his ultimate authority is the fact that he is the “author” of creation. Satan tries to justify his rebellion by denying this aspect of God and claiming self-creation, but he admits to himself that this is not the case, and that God “deserv’d no such return/ From me, whom he created what I was.”(4.42-43)(Lehnhof 24)

Works Cited: Marshal, William H.. "Paradise Lost: Felix Culpa and the Problem of Structure." Modern Language Notes 76.1(1961): 15-20. Doerksen, Daniel W.. "'Let There Be Peace': Eve as Redemptive Peacemaker in Paradise Lost, Book X." Milton Quarterly 32.4(1997): 124-130. Stone, James W.. "Man's Effeminate S(lack)ness: Androgyny and the Divided Unity of Adam and Eve." Milton Quarterly 31.2(1997): 33-42. “Paradise Lost.” The Broadview Anthology of British Literature. Vol. A. Ed. Joseph Black … [et al].—Concise ed. Ontario: Toronto, 2007. 998-1061. Rust, Jennifer. Saint Louis University. Xavier Hall, St. Louis. 12 Nov 2008.


Milton began writing the epic in 1658, during the last years of the English Republic. The infighting among different military and political factions that doomed the Republic may show up in the Council of Hell scenes in Book II. Although he probably finished the work by 1664, Milton did not publish till 1667 on account of the Great Plague and the Great Fire.

Milton composed the entire work while completely blind, necessitating the use of paid amanuenses. (The legend that he forced his daughters to take notation is just that, a legend.) [citation needed] The poet claimed that a divine spirit inspired him during the night, leaving him with verses that he would recite in the morning. It is a matter of debate [attribution needed] whether Milton (or the inspirational spirit, if you like) cared about matters like punctuation and capitalization, though few writing at the time maintained a consistent spelling or capitalization. Although, as stated, Milton was not writing it himself; the supposed "divine spirit" functions in the art, not the grammar. The 3rd Norton edition of Paradise Lost ignores the punctuation found in the surviving manuscript draft on the grounds that it was inserted by the printer, but this procedure has been challenged. Even into the mid-18th century a variety of publications included a wide array of spellings of even the same word within the same text. A secretary is a person who performs routine, administrative, or personal tasks for a superior. ...


Influences include the Bible, Milton's own Puritan upbringing and religious perspective, Edmund Spenser, and the Roman poet Virgil. This Gutenberg Bible is displayed by the United States Library. ... For the record label, see Puritan Records. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... For other uses, see Virgil (disambiguation). ...

Milton wrote the entire work with the help of secretaries and friends, notably Andrew Marvell, after losing his sight. This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...

Later in life, Milton wrote the much shorter Paradise Regained, charting the temptation of Christ by Satan, and the return of the possibility of paradise. This sequel has never had a reputation equal to the earlier poem. Paradise Regaind is a poem by the 17th century English poet John Milton, published in 1671. ...



On the surface Paradise Lost appears to be a general biblical story depicting creation and the fall of Adam and Eve. Digging deeper into the plot of the poem, however, several critics have noted the relationship between Adam and Eve, and how it specifically reflects Milton’s views on marriage.

Milton first presents Adam and Eve in Book 4 and the pair is viewed in impartiality. Dr. Jennifer Rust explains that the relationship between Adam and Eve is one of “. . . mutual dependence, not a relation of domination or hierarchy ” (Rust). While the author does place Adam above Eve in regards to his intellectual knowledge, and in turn his relation to God, he also grants Eve the benefit of knowledge through experience. Hermine Van Nuis clarifies that although there is a sense of stringency associated with the specified roles of the male and the female, each unreservedly accepts the designated role because it is viewed as an asset (50). Instead of believing that these roles are forced upon them, each uses the obligatory requirement as a strength in their relationship with each other. These minor discrepancies reveal the author’s view on the importance of mutuality between a husband and a wife.

When examining the relationship between Adam and Eve, critics have had the tendency to accept an either Adam- or Eve-dominated point of view in relation of hierarchy and importance to God. David Mikics argues, however, that these positions “. . . overstate the independence of the characters’ stances, and therefore miss the way in which Adam and Eve are entwined with each other” (22). Milton’s true vision reflects one where the husband and wife (in this instance, Adam and Eve) depend on each other and only through each other’s differences are able to thrive (Mikics, 22). While most reader’s believe that Adam and Eve fail because of their fall from paradise, Milton would argue that the strengthening of their love for one another that results is true victory.

Although Milton does not directly mention divorce in the actual context of Paradise Lost, critics have presented solid theories on Milton’s view of divorce based on inferences found within the poem. Other works by Milton have expressed that the noted English author viewed marriage as an entity separate from the church (Biberman, 137). More specifically, however, in relation to Paradise Lost, Biberman entertains the idea that “. . . marriage is a contract made by both the man and the woman” (137). Based on this inference, Milton would believe that both man and woman would have equal access to divorce, as they do to marriage.

Works Cited

Mikics, David. "Miltonic Marriage and the Challenge to History in Paradise Lost." Texas Studies in Literature and Language 46(2004) 20-48. 17 Nov 2007.[1]

Van Nuis, Hermine, J.. "Animated Eve Confronting Her Animus: A Jungian Approach to the Division of Labor Debate in Paradise Lost ." Milton Quarterly 34.2(2000) 48-56. 17 Nov 2007.<Animated Eve Confronting Her Animus: A Jungian Approach to the Division of Labor Debate in Paradise Lost>

Biberman, Matthew. "Milton, Marriage, and a Woman's Right to Divorce ." SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 39.1(1999) 131-153. 17 Nov 2007.[2]

Rust, Jennifer. English Department. Xavier Hall, Saint Louis. 14 Nov 2007.


Because of his Protestant views on politics and religion in 17th century England, contemporaries usually criticized Milton’s ideas and considered him as somewhat of an radical. One of Milton’s greatest and most controversial arguments revolves around the concept of what is idolatrous and as critics have noted, the topic is deeply embedded in Paradise Lost.

Milton’s first criticism of idolatry lies in the theory of constructing temples and other buildings to serve as places of worship. In Book 11 of Paradise Lost, Adam tries to atone for his sins by offering to build altars to worship God and in response, the Angel Michael explains that Adam does not need to build physical objects to experience the presence of God (Milton, Book 11). Joseph Lyle points to this example and further explains that “[w]hen Milton objects to architecture, it is not a quality inherent in buildings themselves he finds offensive, but rather their tendency to act as convenient loci to which idolatry, over time, will inevitably adhere” (139). Even if the idea is pure in nature, Milton still believes that it will unavoidably lead to idolatry simply because of the nature of humans. Instead of placing their thoughts and beliefs into God, as they should, humans tend to turn to erected objects and falsely invest their faith. While Adam attempts to build an altar for God, critics have noted that Eve is also guilty of idolatry, but in a different manner. Pitt Harding believes Eve’s narcissism and obsession with herself also constitutes as idolatry (163). Specifically, Pitt claims that “. . . under the serpent’s influence, Eve’s idolatry and self-deification foreshadow the errors into which her “Sons” will stray” (Harding, 163). Much like Adam, Eve falsely places her faith into herself, the Tree of Knowledge, and to some extent, the Serpent, all of which do not compare to the ideal nature of God.

Furthermore, Milton makes his views on idolatry more explicit with the creation of Pandemonium and the exemplary allusion to Solomon’s temple. In the beginning of Paradise Lost, as well as throughout the poem, several references are made to the rise and eventual fall of Solomon’s temple. Critics elucidate that “Solomon’s temple provides an explicit demonstration of how an artifact moves from its genesis in devotional practice to an idolatrous end” (Lyle, 140). This example, out of the many presented, conveys Milton’s views on the dangers of idolatry most clearly. Even if one builds a structure in the name of God, even the best of intentions can become immoral. In addition, critics have noted a parallel between Pandemonium and Saint Peter‘s Basilica, and the Pantheon as well. The majority of these similarities revolve around a structural likeness, but as Lyle explains, they play a much greater role. By linking Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Pantheon to Pandemonium, an idealy false structure, the two famous buildings take on a false meaning as well (Lyle, 147). This comparison best represents Milton’s Protestant views in that it rejects both the purely Catholic perspective and the Pagan perspective.

In addition to rejecting Catholicism, Milton also revolted against the idea of a monarch ruling by divine right and saw the practice as idolatrous. Barbara Lewalski concludes that the theme of idolatry in Paradise Lost “. . . is an exaggerated version of the idolatry Milton had long associated with the Stuart ideology of divine kingship” (223). In the opinion of Milton, any object, human or non-human, that receives special attention that is befitting of God, is considered idolatrous.

Works Cited

Lyle , Joseph. "Architecture and Idolatry in Paradise Lost." SEL 40.1(2000) 139-155. 17 Nov 2007.[3]

Lewalski, Barbara K.. "Milton and Idolatry." SEL 43.1 (2003) 213-232. 17 Nov 2007.[4]

Harding, Pitt. “Milton’s Serpent and the Pagan Birth of Error.” SEL 47.1 (2007) 161-177. 17 Nov 2007.[5]

Response and criticism

The cover of the 2005 Hackett Edition, with illustrations from the 1688 edition.

This epic has generally been considered one of the greatest works in the English language. In the verses below the portrait in the fourth edition, John Dryden linked Milton with Homer and Virgil, suggesting that Milton encompassed and surpassed both, which would make him the greatest epic poet who ever lived or might ever come to be after him: Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (453x700, 50 KB) Cover image of Paradise Lost, ed. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (453x700, 50 KB) Cover image of Paradise Lost, ed. ...

“Three Poets, in three distant Ages born,
Greece, Italy, and England did adorn.
 The First in loftiness of thought surpass'd;
 The Next in Majesty; in both the Last.
 The force of Nature cou'd no farther goe:
 To make a third she joynd the former two.”

Since Paradise Lost is based upon scripture, its significance in the Western canon has been thought by some to have lessened due to increasing secularism. However, this is not the general consensus, and even academics who have been labeled as secular realize the merits of the work. In William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, the "voice of the devil" argues: The Western canon is a canon of books and art (and specifically one with very loose boundaries) that has allegedly been highly influential in shaping Western culture. ... This article is about secularism. ... William Blake (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827) was an English poet, visionary, painter, and printmaker. ... The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is one of William Blakes books, a series of texts written in imitation of biblical books of prophecy, but expressing Blakes own intensely personal Romantic and revolutionary beliefs. ...

The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it.

This statement summarizes what would become the most common interpretation of the work in the twentieth century. Some critics, including C.S. Lewis and later Stanley Fish, reject this interpretation. Rather, such critics hold that the theology of Paradise Lost conforms to the passages of Scripture on which it is based. (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s The 20th century lasted from 1901 to 2000 in the Gregorian calendar (often from (1900 to 1999 in common usage). ... Clive Staples Lewis (November 29, 1898 &#8211; November 22, 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis, was an author and scholar. ... Stanley Fish (born 1938) is a prominent American literary theorist and legal scholar. ... This Gutenberg Bible is displayed by the United States Library. ...

The latter half of the twentieth century saw the critical understanding of Milton's epic shift to a more political and philosophical focus. Rather than the Romantic conception of the Devil as the hero of the piece, it is generally accepted that Satan is presented in terms that begin classically heroic, then diminish him until he is finally reduced to a dust-eating serpent unable even to control his own body. The political angle enters into consideration in the underlying friction between Satan's conservative, hierarchical view of the universe and the contrasting "new way" of God and the Son of God as illustrated in Book III. In other words, in contemporary criticism the main thrust of the work becomes not the perfidy or heroism of Satan, but rather the tension between classical conservative "Old Testament" hierarchs (evidenced in Satan's worldview and even in that of the archangels Raphael and Gabriel), and "New Testament" revolutionaries (embodied in the Son of God, Adam, and Eve) who represent a new system of universal organization.[citation needed] This new order is based not in tradition, precedence, and unthinking habit, but on sincere and conscious acceptance of faith and on station chosen by ability and responsibility.[citation needed] Naturally, this interpretation makes much use of Milton's other works and his biography, grounding itself in his personal history as an English revolutionary and social critic. [citation needed]Samuel Johnson praised the poem lavishly, but conceded that "None ever wished it longer than it is." Romantics redirects here. ... This is an overview of the Devil. ... This article is about the concept of Satan. ... Ths article deals with conservatism as a political philosophy. ... A hierarchy (in Greek hieros = sacred, arkho = rule) is a system of ranking and organizing things. ... This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations · Other religions Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Catholic Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      Son of... This article is about the concept of Satan. ... Archangels are superior or higher-ranking angels. ... The Archangel Raphael Raphael (Standard Hebrew רפאל, God has healed, God Heals, God, Please Heal, and many other combinations of the two words, Arabic: Israfil, اسرافيل) is the name of an archangel of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, who performs all manner of healing. ... This article is about the archangel Gabriel. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations · Other religions Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Catholic Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      Son of... Michelangelos Creation of Adam, from the Sistine Chapel. ... For other persons named Samuel Johnson, see Samuel Johnson (disambiguation). ...

Paradise Lost declined in critical and popular estimation during the 20th century due to attacks by F.R. Leavis and T.S. Eliot, who disliked what they viewed as its stilted, unnatural language. However, current programs at the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, with popular readings of the work, are being received enthusiastically. A DVD of such a reading [6] was produced by them with the intention of developing it into an educational device to demonstrate the aesthetic quality of Milton's phraseology. Frank Raymond Leavis (1895-1978) was an influential British literary critic of the early-to-mid-twentieth century. ... Thomas Stearns Eliot (September 26, 1888 - January 4, 1965), was a major Modernist Anglo-American poet, dramatist, and literary critic. ... The Williamsburg Art & Historical Center (WAH Center) is a not-for-profit organization founded in late 1996 by artist & philanthropist Yuko Nii. ...


The history of illustrators includes, among others, Edward Burney, Richard Westall, Francis Hayman, Bernard Lens, and John Medina. The most notable[citation needed] and popular[citation needed] illustrators include William Blake, Gustave Doré and Henry Fuseli. Salvador Dali did fanciful illustrations for the Automobile Club. And noted surreal/visionary artist Terrance Lindall's rendition, which was published in hardcover in 1982 and which also appeared in Heavy Metal Magazine around that time, is used in the Department of English at New York University to introduce students to Milton. A Toronto act entitled "Milton's Aim," which was inspired by Paradise Lost came into existence in 2006. Reviews are pending. Richard Westall (2 January 1765 &#8211; 4 December 1836) was an English painter. ... Francis Hayman (1708 - 2 February 1776) was an English painter and illustrator who became one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768 and later its first librarian. ... John J. Medina is the founding director of the Talaris Research Institute in Seattle, Washington. ... William Blake (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827) was an English poet, visionary, painter, and printmaker. ... Doré photographed by Felix Nadar. ... Fuseli talking to Johann Jakob Bodmer, 1778-1781. ... Salvador Dalí as photographed in 1934 by Carl Van Vechten Salvador Domenec Felip Jacint Dalí Domenech (May 11, 1904 - January 23, 1989) was an important Catalan-Spanish painter, best known for his surrealist works. ... Terrance Lindall is an American artist who was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1944. ... Year 1982 (MCMLXXXII) was a common year starting on Friday (link displays the 1982 Gregorian calendar). ... Magazine cover featuring the main characters of Richard Corbens Den series, one of Heavy Metals most popular early features Heavy Metal is an American science fiction and fantasy comics magazine started in 1977. ... New York University (NYU) is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in New York City. ...

See also

This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...


  1. ^ http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/collection/international/print/b/blake/milton.html
  2. ^ T.S. Eliot, "Dante," Selected Essays, New York, 1932 212, Qtd. by Anne Paolucci in "Dante's Satan and Milton's Byronic Hero," Italica 41:2, June 1964.

Selected bibliography

Online editions

Paradise Lost

Paradise Regained Paradise Regaind is a poem by the 17th century English poet John Milton, published in 1671. ...

In print

  • Paradise Lost Norton Critical Edition (2nd edition edited by Scott Elledge ISBN 0-393-96293-8; 3rd edition edited by Gordon Teskey ISBN 0-393-92428-9) – includes biographical, historical, and literary backgrounds, and criticism
  • Paradise Lost Penguin Classics ISBN 0-14-042439-3.
  • Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained Signet Classic Poetry ISBN 0-451-52792-5.
  • Hughes, Merrit Y. ed. John Milton. The Complete Poems and Major Prose. New York, 1957. ISBN 0-87220-678-5.
  • Fowler, Alastair, ed. Paradise Lost 2nd Edition, Longman, London, 1998. ISBN 0-582-21518-8.
  • The Annotated Milton: Complete English Poems, edited by Burton Raffel, Bantam Classic (Random House), 1999. ISBN 0-553-58110-4.
  • Paradise Lost and Other Poems, Signet Classic (Penguin Group), with introduction by Edward M. Cifelli, Ph.D. and notes by Edward Le Comte. New York, 2000.

Burton Raffel is a translator, a poet and a teacher. ...


  • The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton, 2008, Random House, Edited by William Kerrigan , John Rumrich and Stephen M. Fallon - Cover art by Terrance Lindall
  • Bradford, R. Paradise Lost. Open University Press: Philadelphia, 1992.
  • Butler, George F., "Giants and Fallen Angels in Dante and Milton: The Commedia and the Gigantomachy in Paradise Lost, Modern Philology, Vol. 95, No. 3 (Feb., 1998), pp. 352-363.
  • Carey, John and Fowler, Alastair. The Poems of John Milton. London, 1971.
  • Empson, William. Milton's God Rev. ed. London, 1965.
  • Eliot, T.S. "Milton" and "A Note on the Verse of John Milton." On Poetry and Poets. London, 1957.
  • Forsyth, Neil. The Satanic Epic. Princeton, 2004.
  • Frye, Northrop. The Return of Eden: Five Essays on Milton's Epics. Toronto, 1965.
  • Kermode, Frank, ed. The Living Milton: Essays by Various Hands. London, 1960.
  • Lewis, C.S. A Preface to Paradise Lost. London, 1942.
  • Rajan, Balachandra. Paradise Lost and the Seventeenth Century Reader. London, 1947.
  • Ricks, Christopher. Milton's Grand Style. Oxford, 1963.
  • Miller, Timothy C. (Ed.) The Critical Response to John Milton's

"Paradise Lost" (Critical Responses in Arts & Letters) Greenwood Publishing Group. Westport, 1997. William Empson Sir William Empson (27 September 1906 – 15 April 1984) was an English literary critic and poet, reckoned by some to be the greatest English literary critic after Samuel Johnson and William Hazlitt and fitting heir to their mode of witty, fiercely heterodox and imaginatively rich criticism. ... Thomas Stearns Eliot (September 26, 1888 - January 4, 1965), was a major Modernist Anglo-American poet, dramatist, and literary critic. ... Herman Northrop Frye, CC, MA, D.Litt. ... John Frank Kermode (b. ... Clive Staples Lewis (November 29, 1898 &#8211; November 22, 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis, was an author and scholar. ... Balachandra Rajan, a scholar of poetry and poetics, focusing particularly on the poetry of John Milton, is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Western Ontario. ... Christopher Ricks (born 1933) is a British literary critic and scholar. ...

  • Wheat, Leonard F. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials - A Multiple Allegory: Attacking Religious Superstition in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Paradise Lost (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2007)

External links

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Paradise Lost

Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki-based projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation, running on MediaWiki software. ... Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ...

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Other information

  Results from FactBites:
Paradise Lost - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4418 words)
Paradise Lost (1667) is an epic poem by the 17th century English poet John Milton.
His pure reason and intellect are lost as a result of the fall, Man never being able again to converse with angels as near-equal (as he did with Raphael) but forever one-sided (as he did with Michael after the fall).
The analogy Milton makes in Paradise Lost is one of light: God is like the sun, the essence of light, while the Son is like the rays of the sun, an "effluence" of light.
Paradise Lost (band) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (285 words)
Paradise Lost are a heavy metal band formed in 1988 in Halifax, UK.
Along with countrymates Anathema and My Dying Bride, they are credited for creating the subgenre known as "doom/death" metal.
Paradise Lost's line-up has remained remarkably consistent for a long-standing heavy metal band, consisting of singer Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, and bassist Steve Edmonson.
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