Paradise Lost John Milton
Paradise Lost • Standard conventions of epic form • Invocation to the Muse • Begins story in medias res • Writes in an elevated style on a grand subject
The Fall of Satan • This excerpt is from the beginning of Milton’s epic poem of over 10,000 lines. • His purpose in writing this epic poem is to answer the question of why God permits his human creations to suffer and die – “to justify the ways of God to men”
As with all epic poems, he opens with 1) an invocation to the Muse of poetry and 2) with a statement of his subject. #1) Based on the invocation to the Muse (lines1- 26), sum up what the subject of this story will be. Humanity’s first crime against God, the fall from innocence that made humans subject to suffering and death, and the salvation of humanity by Jesus Christ
#2)In lines 27-33, what question does he ask about Adam and Eve? Why they disobeyed God and who lured them to do so.
#3) In lines 34-44, he answers the above question, how? Satan tricked them out of envy, revenge, and thwarted pride.
#4) Summarize the action in lines 45-60. • Satan defied God, and God hurled Satan out of heaven to be chained and punished in Hell. • Now Satan and his “crew” find themselves floating on the fiery lake. • Satan looks around at his surrounding with stubborn pride and unwavering hate.
#5) In lines 61- 74, he describes Hell –summarize/list that description. Dungeon, flames, torture, sorrow, “darkness visible,” hopelessness, absence of God
#6) Who is Beelzebub and how has he changed? (lines 75-93) He is next in power to Satan. He was once bright and glorious but is now ruined and miserable.
#7) What details in Satan’s speech (lines 93-124) show that he feels that he and God are opposing generals of two armies? Does Satan admit defeat? • He refers to God as the “Victor,” with His “Innumerable force of spirits” after the two “powers opposed in dubious battle.” • He speaks of heaven as a lost “field” and of God as a “grand Foe” in an “eternal war.” • He does not concede that his defeat is final – He’s lost the battle but not the war. • He does not “repent or change.” / “All is not lost.” • His battle “shook” God’s “throne” and made God [doubt] his empire.”
#8) In lines 128-155, What does Beelzebub think of their situation? How is he different from Satan? • Although defeated, the rebels maintain their spirit – • He wonders if God deliberately left them their spirit so they may suffer all the more. • He does not have Satan’s pride or ego.
#9) In lines 159-162, what does Satan vow? To do only evil forever and to always oppose God. Since God is the essence of goodness, Satan will be the essence of evil.
#10) In lines 169-191 – What does Satan propose? The rebels should rest, reassemble, take council, repair their losses, and take on new resolve now that God has stopped showing his rage and power.
#11) In lines 209 – 220, What are God’s plans for Satan? God plans to see that humanity is showered with goodness, grace, and mercy, while allowing Satan to continue to damn himself by hatching more evil plans, thereby remaining eternally crushed by God’s vengeance.
#12)Summarize the action in lines 221-241. • Satan rise from the lake and flies to a burning piece of land. • Beelzebub follows him.
#13) In lines 254-255, paraphrase what the proud Satan says in these lines? It doesn’t matter where you are physically; the mind can create a wonderful or miserable place for you to dwell. You are in control of perception – how you view life, etc.
#14) Copy line 263 exactly and paraphrase its meaning. “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven” • Satan would rather live free and in control than live in paradise as a slave.
#15) In lines 264-270, how does the old proverb “misery loves company” apply? • Satan is eager to rally his forces so that they may “share with us their part/ In this unhappy mansion. • He needs support to defeat God and/or he might just be mean and want his followers to suffer, too.
Answer Reading Check questions on page 449. • In Paradise Lost Milton argues that God is not responsible for the evils of the world. Rather, Adam and Eve’s disobedience, their misuse of freedom and reason, caused these evils. • What do you think is one of the biggest evils in the world today? What are its causes? What are its effects?