Milton, Paradise Lost

Books III and IV

Book III.

God sees Satan's flight and explains Man's fall due to disobedience in his free will, but the Son of God offers himself as a ransom for the rebellious human race. Satan deceives Uriel, a guardian angel, and is directed to Earth where he sets foot on Armenia's Mount Niphates (IV, 126).

416. Satan arrives at outer globe of cosmos (p. 774)
490. Catholic pretenders to faith, scattered in chaos
505. comes to palace gate of region between heaven and earth

Book IV

Satan is tormented by the beauty of Creation, and discovers Adam and Eve living in perfect harmony. Hearing them talk of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, he turns himself into a toad and whispers temptation into the sleeping Eve's ear, but he is discovered by the guardian angels and expelled by Gabriel. (lines 776-1015 omitted in Norton)

1. Satan approaches Eden; regrets what he has become and the role he is to take

Opening: if only mankind could have been warned (1-8) -- sense of comprehensive history, the voice as in the Apocalypse; (linear narrative of Christian history; distinguish from circularity of Pagan); but consider also that we know Satan's plan is ultimately a failure, since mankind is redeemed; irony of.

Satan's suffering, role of conscience still (23) -- a person, not a machine.

His speech (32-113): recollects cause of his fall; more honest here -- and first reference to God as God (41); objected to endless paying, endless owing (52-3); but recognizing that God gave him no real cause to rebel (42); if he had been an inferior angel . . . but this is to return to blaming God (59); would still have had freewill (66); condemns himself (71); no place left for repentance (80); and even if he could repent and be restored, he would be tempted to fall again (as if God would be duped by such repentance) (93-102); "Evil be thou my good" (110).

Satan's demeanour, attempt to disguise his feelings; spotted by Uriel (114-130).

> Do you see casuistry in Satan's Book IV speeches?

> Given what Satan tells us of his backstory, why can he not return to Heaven?

2. Satan enters Eden; his perspective as the garden of Eden is described

Comes to Eden (131 ff): note first view is from Satan's perspective; during description note references to Satan, reminders (156, 166); Satan leaps into Eden (181): epic simile, "As when…" (183), helps indicate its significance -- and wolf, sheepfold, etc., common in Christian literature. Perches on the Tree of Life: perverting a good thing to bad (194-6).

Satan's perspective again (reminder) as Eden is described (205). Beauty of nature beyond the reach of art (256). Animate words of description ("mantling," "Lays" (258-9), etc.: similar to words used for humans later) -- gives the garden a sense as of a living body.

3. Adam and Eve, their dignity; Satan determines to destroy their happiness

Adam and Eve: godlike, erect, superior to animals, as images of God, etc. (289-93); but gender inequalities? Or observation that the two bodies are not identical? (296 ff.); guiltless sexuality (313 ff) -- criticism of modern prudishness.

Satan's horror at this new kind of life (358); of "other mold" - from earth? And not spirits (361-2); regrets (386) what has to be done, but determines to share hell with these new beings, to "entertain" them (382); for "public reason just" -- hypocrisy of (389): the "tyrant's plea" (394).

Adam and Eve's conversation: the conditions of their tenure of Eden (423-4). Eve's story of first awakening (449 ff); her eventual submission to Adam (490), i.e., the reason for her existence is Adam. Their embrace (492-504). Note: equates paradise with human sexual fulfilment: they are "imparadised" in one another's arms (506).

> Is life in Eden satisfactory for Adam and Eve; if so, why?

> What status respective to one another do Adam and Eve have in their relationship?

> Are there any forewarnings or hints that Eve will be a liability?

4. Adam and Eve, the backstory; Satan learns where they are vulnerable

Satan tormented by the sight, their bliss compared with his fate (505); his pains and "fierce desire" (509) -- for what? Has learned of the Tree of Knowledge: forbidden (514-5); to arouse their aspiration to be like God (526) - just like Satan's own fate. Note the string of conclusions Satan jumps to: if the fruit is forbidden, God must want them ignorant (519); hence God's "envious commands" (524).

Evening. Gabriel and his compatriots, the angels guarding the east gate of Eden (549) -- he is the angel who will later announce to the Virgin Mary her conception -- warned of approach of evil Spirit by Uriel (565).

5. Adam and Eve's evening discourse and marital relations

Adam and Eve's evening discourse (610 ff). Adam on their labour (610-33); Eve on the beauty of nature, highly poetic (635-56). Adam answers her question about why the stars shine at night (660-88). Note contrast of poetic and rational in these speeches. Their bower (690). Eve in comparison with Pandora, from whose box all evils were brought into the world (714). Their married rites (sex) (742-3), vs. hypocritical talk of purity (744); praise of wedded love (750); sexual love as prior to familial (756-7); holy, not as casual sex of London streets now, etc. (765-70).

> What is the status of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge? (see IV, 218-22, 421-8, 513-27)

> In what way does Milton's account of the sexual relation challenge other views (then or now)?

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Document created March 2nd 2009 / updated November 16th 2010