Milton begins Book IX as he began Books I and VII: with an invocation and plea for guidance, as well as a comparison of his task to that of the great Greek and Roman epics, the Iliad, Odyssey, and the Aeneid. Milton explains by way of this invocation that Adam and Eve’s fall is the major event that occurs in Paradise Lost. Their fall is the poem’s climax, even though it comes as no surprise.
By describing the fall as tragic, Milton conveys the gravity and seriousness of this catastrophe for all of humankind, but he also situates Adam and Eve’s story within the literary conventions of tragedy, in which a great man falls because of a special flaw within his otherwise larger-than-life character. The fall paves the way for humankind’s ultimate redemption and salvation, and thus Milton can claim that his epic surpasses Homer’s and Virgil’s because it pertains to the entire human race, not one hero or even one nation. Milton mocks the knightly romances of the Middle Ages on the grounds that they applaud merely superficial heroism.
The idea of the chivalrous warrior was an oxymoron in Milton’s view. Milton presents his hero as a morally powerful person—Adam’s strength and martial prowess are entirely irrelevant. Milton voices doubts about whether his society will appreciate a real Christian hero, or whether he himself is still skilled enough or young enough to complete his literary task, balancing his confidence in his own ability with the humility appropriate to a Christian poet. Satan’s return to the story presents him as a changed and further degenerated character. Before the temptation of Eve, we see Satan go through another bit of soul-searching.
This time, however, he does not waver in his determination to ruin humankind, but only makes a cold expression of regret for things that might have been. Milton notes that Satan is driven to action by the grief and turmoil he feels inside and by his wounded sense of pride. It is clear now that Satan’s decision to corrupt humankind is final, yet he still thinks about how he would have enjoyed the beauty of Earth if he had not rebelled. Milton displays the internal agony that results from the sin of despair: Satan can clearly see, despite all his previous arguments, that it would have been better to remain good.
However, he has forbidden himself from even considering the possibility of repentance. As a result, he degenerates further and further, making his mind and body his own personal Hell. Milton has given absolute power to the reason and free will of both men and Satan, only to show that the mind can defeat itself—using reason to arrive at an unreasonable position. Satan’s thoughts are increasingly contradictory and confusing, becoming hard for us, and perhaps for himself, to follow. Satan comes to believe his own faulty logic and his own lies.
In Books I and II, his ability to reason is strong, but now in Book IX he can hardly form a coherent argument. Ironically, Satan has proved the truth of his own earlier statement that the mind can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven. Satan intended to make a heaven out of Hell, where he would be an evil version of God. Instead, he has brought his torture with him, and made a hell out of the earth that, but for him, would be heavenly. BOOK 10 ANALYSIS If Book IX presents the climax of Paradise Lost, then Book X presents its resolution, as the punishments that the Son hands out restore some sort of order to the world.
Satan and the other supporting characters disappear from the rest of the poem, eliminating the source of human temptation and thus focusing the poem on Adam and Eve’s regret. But Adam and Eve begin to redeem humankind with their repentance at the end of Book X. As a result, these characters will disappear from the story, and humankind’s predicted redemption will take precedence as the story continues, with Adam and Eve learning about their fallen future. The devils’ punishment to live as snakes forever tempted by fruit on a glorious tree echoes Satan’s temptation of Eve.
Now they must forever suffer the pains of desire without ever having hope of attaining their wishes, a punishment befitting their crime. To have the devils frozen in a state of perpetual desire and unattainable satisfaction is fit for a group of evildoers who continue to battle God through their disobedience. Milton uses the concept of typology—the Christian belief that Old Testament characters symbolize and predict New Testament characters—to demonstrate the intimate relationship between the fall of humankind and the redemption of humankind.
This relationship between the fall and the resurrection forms the base of the Christian interpretation of the Bible. Milton considers Mary, the mother of the Son (Jesus), to be the “second Eve. ” As Sin and Death came into the world through Eve, the Son would conquer Sin and Death through Mary. Likewise, Milton considers Jesus to be a “second Adam” who corrects Adam and Eve’s disobedience through his resurrection. Through these comparisons between Eve and Mary, and Adam and Jesus, the fall and the resurrection become intertwined.
The fall is the cause of human history; the resurrection is the result of human history. Although Adam and Eve are ailing at the end of Book IX, they take action in Book X and separate their fate from Satan’s fate. Satan, as Milton shows, cannot allow himself to repent. His damnation is permanent since his disobedience comes from within and without repentance. On the other hand, humankind’s disobedience comes from the temptation of another. This idea helps to explain Adam and Eve’s actions and subsequent punishment at the end of Book X.
Realizing the terrible consequences of their actions, they come dangerously close to rationalizing suicide, but Adam decides to beg God for forgiveness—the only right answer, in Milton’s opinion. Though the coming of the Son and the salvation of humankind had already been foretold, the couple’s decision to repent is crucial in God’s willingness to forgive them. God will show mercy when asked, but as we see with Satan, there can be no mercy without repentance. In one of the most important quotations inParadise Lost, Milton poetically demonstrates the importance of Adam and Eve’s decision in the last several lines of Book X.
Adam explains how their repentance and prayer will occur, and then as they pray, Milton duplicates Adam’s explanation as the actual action of their prayer. As Adam explains to Eve: What better can we do, than to the place Repairing where he judg’d us, prostrate fall Before him reverent, and there confess Humbly our faults, and pardon beg, with tears Watering the ground. . . (X. 1087–1090) This moment of prayer is crucial because now humankind will not all go the way of Satan, because man produces what the devil could not: true sorrow and regret.
Milton gives Eve the ability to argue persuasively to Adam, showing her intelligence and talents after all. Eve displays a new humility and grace when she repents after the fall. Her strength lies in her ability to relate her feelings to Adam, feelings that Adam shares. Eve’s contemplation of suicide is a sign of weakness, but after Eve’s moving speech, Adam is able to help see—and to help her see—why they should not commit suicide. As they lose hope of Paradise, they witness the hope of their race: God’s Son, Jesus. It is this hope that prevents the couple from taking their own lives when they realize the extent of their punishment.
They choose hope over despair. Milton resolves their distinguished differences through a display of unity: Eve’s loving and emotional arguments to stay together and Adam’s rational argument to repent help them begin to save humankind together. Their similarities and teamwork, not their differences and occasional parity, allow them to obey reason and survive. BOOK 11Summary The visions in Books XI and XII provide a larger context to Paradise Lost and allow Milton to “justify the ways of God to men” (I. 26) and to conclude his epic poem with the message that one must live virtuously and be obedient to God.
These stories, narrated as Adam’s visions, explain why God allows sin and death into the world, and why God wants us to live a certain way. Without these visions and stories, Milton could not explain God’s reasoning and his glorious plan for humankind. These visions enable Milton to transcend his focus from the first narrative in the Bible to subsequent books, so that he can discuss human history in broad terms. Part of his message is that human history should be told in terms of its sins, not its advancements in civilizations or invention. These visions expose a dangerous cycle of sins, from sloth and envy to gluttony and lust.
Through these visions, Milton asserts the need for repentance and service to God. BOOK 11 In Heaven, God hears Adam and Eve’s prayers, which we are told please him more than all the fruit of Paradise. (To me, this strongly implies that God prefers it when people sin and then have to apologize to when they do right in the first place. ) However, he decrees that they can no longer live in Paradise, and decides to banish them (and their children, who had done nothing inasmuch as they did not yet exist) before they eat from the Tree of Life and undo the sentence of death he has ordained for them.
He sends angels down, led by the archangel Michael, to do this. Down on Earth, Adam sees the results of his transgression – eagles hunting other birds, lions chasing down prey; again, there is no explanation of how their sin caused or necessitated this – and then the angels arrive. Though made more miserable by the revelation that they must leave Paradise, they accept their sentence. (Adam mourns the fact that he will not be able to show his descendants the places in Eden where God appeared to him and spoke with him; again, why must their children suffer for their parents’ crimes? However, before they leave, Michael puts Eve to sleep and then leads Adam to the top of a nearby hill, the highest in Paradise, to show him what will come of their deeds in the future. Michael first shows him Abel’s death at Cain’s hands, then a sampling of all the many horrible diseases and ailments that make up some of the other ways people will die. Finally, he shows Adam a selection of events from the Old Testament, including Enoch’s ascension and Noah’s flood. God: He creates the universe, heaven, hell, angels and man. He is omnipresent and omnipotent, but bestows man with free will to decide his actions.
God is father of the Son, upon whom he bestows the power to judge man. Satan rebels against God, doubting his omnipotence and challenging his authority. Satan: God’s adversary. Once one of the highest-ranking Archangels inheaven (known as ‘Lucifer’ there), Satan’s pride and rebellion cause him to be thrown down into hell, where he rules and establishes Pandemonium. He eventually destroysParadise by assuming the shape of a serpent and tricking Eve into eating from the forbidden Tree ofKnowledge. He is the father of Sin and Death. Son: God’s son and equal, who is given the power to judge man.
He offers to become mortal to save man, but after crucifixion, he is resurrected. He is given the glory in quelling Satan’s rebellion. He also confronts Adam and Eve after their transgression and, after clothing them, doles out their punishments. Adam: The first human, created by God. The husband and ‘ruler’ of Eve, who was created from his rib. He is warned by Raphael not to transgress. He decides to join Eve in her mortality and against his better knowledge, follows her and eats the forbidden fruit. His punishment includes hard labor in the field and mortality. Eve: The second human, created from Adam’s rib.
Adam’s wife and often described both seductively and submissively. She is tricked by Satan into eating the forbidden fruit, and receives the punishment of becoming mortal and suffering pain in childbirth. Raphael: The Archangel sent by God to warn Adam and Eve about Satan and remind them of their free will. He engages in a lengthy discussion of Satan’s rebellion and the universe’s creation at Adam’s request. Michael: Archangel who, with Gabriel, leads the forces of good against Satan and his followers during their rebellion in heaven. He is important for both jabbing Satan and moving mountains.
Later, he comes to escortAdam and Eve from Paradise, and tells them of both good and bad events, which will come to pass. ::::: Muse/Urania: Invoked by Milton at certain points in the poem to give him the inspiration to carry on. Beelzebub: A fallen angel, and Satan’s biggest supporter. A big advocate of the plan to sabotage Paradise and mortal man. Moloch: A fallen angel. He thinks that open war should be waged against God and heaven. Belial: A fallen angel. He thinks that hell isn’t that bad, and if God isn’t angered, he might remit the punishment of the fallen angels anyway.
Mammon: A fallen angel. He argues that it doesn’t make any sense to worship someone you hate, and thinks that the fallen angels should make the best out of hell. Sin: Satan’s daughter, who sprung out of his head. Satan impregnated her, and she gave birth to Death. With Death, she guards the gates of hell. She is half woman and half dogs. Death: Son of Sin. He rapes her, begetting the dogs that eat her bowels. With Sin, he guards the gates of hell. Chaos: Ruler of the abyss between hell and earth with his consort Night. He aids Satan in getting to earth. Night: Chaos’ consort.
Rules the abyss with him, and aids Satan in getting to earth. Uriel: Archangel of the sun. Uriel is fooled by Satan on his way to earth. Helps to later kick Satan out of Paradise. Gabriel: Archangel and guard of the Paradise. He demands an explanation of Satan when he’s found in Paradise. Ithuriel: Archangel. With Zephon, he discovers Satan trying to whisper into Eve’s ear in Paradise. Zephon: Archangel. With Ithuriel, he discovers Satan trying to whisper into Eve’s ear in Paradise. Abdiel: Angel who originally goes to rebel with Satan, but stands up to him and chooses to remain faithful to God.