Paradise Lost Essay Questions

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As the war between Heaven and Hell intensifies, the angel Raphael is sent by God to warn the human couple of Satan’s ongoing threats.

To welcome him, Eve ‘turns, on hospitable thoughts intent’ (Book 5, l.

734), since she is more susceptible to such wiles than Adam.

Or, alternatively, is Eve more ambitious, rebellious and disobedient than Adam? As Eve, reasoning (perhaps sophistically) with herself, notes that though the eating of the fruit supposedly brings death, ‘How dies the Serpent? Satan has won the game, and Eve, in five succinct lines, determines to change the world: ... 793), she outlines an idolatrous plan to worship the Tree daily, then considers whether or not to share what she believes is her new divinity with her husband.

1–3), he explores these matters through a narrative that focusses on two paradigmatic rebels: Satan, the once-brilliant angel who falls through his explicit refusal to accept the hierarchy of Heaven; and Eve, the supposedly submissive ‘Mother of Mankind’ (Book 1, l.

36) who implicitly refuses to accept the hierarchy of vain vulnerable and evidently intellectually inferior to Adam.However, Sandra M Gilbert argues that, though Milton portrays her as a weak character, he also puts her on a par with Satan in her refusal to accept hierarchy and because of her ability to move the plot of will primarily examine ‘Man’s First Disobedience, and the Fruit / Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste / Brought Death into the World’ (Book 1, ll.As Satan, journeying to Eden bent on revenge against God, first views them, Adam and Eve are: Not equal, as their sex not equal seem’d; For contemplation hee and valour 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’d Absolute rule ... but follow me, / And I will bring thee’ (Book 4, l. 470), she spies Adam and runs away, having thought him ‘less fair ... 633), she proclaims that ‘God is thy Law, thou mine: to know no more / Is woman’s happiest knowledge and her praise’ (Book 4, ll. In this way, Eve is more vulnerable than Adam to the schemes of Satan. 798), the fallen angel crouches by her ear and inspires her with a prophetic dream in which she flies, witchlike, through the sky and desirously views the forbidden tree, ‘with fruit surcharg’d’ (Book 5, l. William Blake made three sets of stunning watercolours to illustrate Milton’s poem.In this one, Satan crouches ‘like a toad’ near Eve, while Adam sleeps beside her.As Milton shows us, not by chance, but through her own rebellious search for independence. Adam worries that harm will ‘Befall thee sever’d from me’ (Book 9, l. Her urge to separate herself from Adam, if only briefly, is curiously reminiscent of the way in which she had run away from him after she was first created to be his spouse and ‘second Self’, and already prefigures doom.Early in Book 9, as the couple prepare to tend the Garden, she suggests to her husband that they should ‘divide our labours, thou where choice / Leads thee ... 252), for they must be on guard against a ‘malicious Foe / Envying our happiness’ (Book 9, ll. The wife, he declares, But Eve disagrees, protesting that if she and her husband are forced ‘to dwell / In narrow circuit strai’n’d by a Foe... Inevitably, as Eve journeys through the Garden on her own, Satan discovers her ‘Veil’d in a cloud of Fragrance’ (Book 9, l.425) and begins his fatal seduction by praising her ‘Celestial Beauty’ (Book 9, l. Astonished and not a little flattered, she wonders at his command of human speech: ‘What may this mean? Now Satan embarks on his great temptation speech, which is almost like an operatic aria in praise of a certain ‘goodly Tree’ (Book 9, l. Once he had eaten of it, he tells his naive listener, he experienced ‘Strange alteration’ (Book 9, l. 614) Eve expresses an interest in seeing this amazing tree, and, of course, serpentine Satan leads her directly there.Language of Man pronounc’t / By Tongue of Brute, and human sense exprest? 599), including ‘Reason in my inward Powers, and Speech’ (Book 9, l. When she remonstrates that this tree bears forbidden fruit, he embarks on another operatic aria praising its beneficence, to which she listens in all innocence.Around these passages Milton develops the drama of discord between Heaven and Hell that shapes his epic of disobedience.The complexity with which he imbues both Satan and Eve is nowhere to be found in Genesis, where we are simply told that, after the serpent’s false assurances, The woman saw that the tree was good for food ...


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