“Paradise Lost” is an epic poem written by the great English poet “John Milton” and first published in 1667. The book Paradise Lost is considered by many scholars to be Milton’s best work and solidifies his place as one of the greatest English poets of all time. The poem consists of 12 books and more than 10,000 ‘Blank Verses’. It is a tale of the Fall Of Mankind – the moment when Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit from the ‘Tree Of Knowledge’ and God Punished them from the Garden of Eden forever. The paradise lost is similar to the book from which Milton takes much of his story the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.
About the Poet
John Milton was an English poet and man of letters, commonly considered “One of the preeminent writers in the English Language”. One of the most knowledgeable men of his time, he was fluent in English, Latin, Greek, and Italian, writing his works in all of these languages. Among his world-famous works include – Paradise Lost, Aeropagitica, and Lycidas. He is described as the Great English Author by biographer Willam Hayley. Poets such as William Blake, William Wordsworth, and Thomas Hardy were much influenced by John Milton.
The setting of the Poem
The action of the poem is set in four main stages – Hell, Heaven, Paradise before the fall, and earth in its fallen state.
The theme of Paradise Lost
- Hierarchy and Order
- Disobedience and Revolt
- Sin and Innocence
- Free Will and Predestination
- Love and Marriage
Summary Of Paradise Lost Book 1
Just like the Iliad and The Odyssey, Paradise Lost begins with an invocation and the poet explains the theme of his act of disobedience towards God and then its Consequences,
“Of Man’s first disobedience and the fruit
of that forbidden tree whose moral taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man…
Then Milton invokes the Muse to assist him divinely in giving to his purpose of writing. Milton’s muse is Holy Spirit which, in his view, makes his poem superior to the others. According to Milton, his purpose in writing is to
“Assert eternal providence and justify the wages of God to men.”
Milton moves from prayer to the disobedience of Adam and Eve that occurred because of Satan. Satan, who was Lucifer, an angel. A war started between God and Satan in which Satan was defeated and thrown out of Heaven into Hell along with Beelzebub and his companions who are now demons. All of the demons including Satan lie stunned, in a lake of fire. Breaking the awful silence, Satan bemoans their terrible position but does not repent of his rebellion against God, suggesting that they might gather their forces for another attack. Beelzebub is doubtful; he now believes that God cannot be overpowered. Satan does not fully contradict this assessment but suggests that they could at least pervert God’s good works to evil purposes. Satan says to all the devils, who were formerly angels who choose to follow Satan in rebellion,
“Better to reign in hell than serve in Heaven”
Satan calls the rest of the fallen angels named – Moloch, Belial, Dagon, Baal, Orus, Isis, Osiris, etc. He again commands “Awake arise or be forever fall in”. As an army of devils gathers around Satan, he praises them by calling them O Myraids of Immortal Spirits and O Powers Matchless. The army of demons under the command of the materialistic Mammon starts digging the ground and bringing out Gold and other costly minerals (except oil) with their superpower, they construct a great chamber called Pandemonium. Thousands of demons shrink to fit inside it. Now all of them make a plan to fight with God and how take revenge on them. Book I is end with the debate of demons.
Throughout the first book of Paradise Lost, Satan seems as if he is the hero of the poem. Because the focus of the poem is all on him.