Notes on Milton's PL- MORE CONTEXT


In Book 5-8, Raphael visits Adam and Eve and tells them the story of Satan's rebellion, the war in Heaven and the expulsion. Raphael then describes the creation of the earth, and promises them that their obedience will be rewarded with a gradual ascent to Heaven. He warns them about Satan's presence and his plans to seduce them from obedience, in order that God should be forced by his own justice to make them share Satan's punishment. Adam relates to Raphael how he was created, confessing privately that he loves Eve too much.

In Book 9, Milton describes how Eve persuades Adam to let her work in the garden alone, how she meets and is flattered by Satan disguised as a Serpent, and is finally persuaded to eat the Fruit of the Forbidden Tree. When she offers some to Adam, he decides to eat in order to die with her. Both of them are intoxicated by the fruit and make love lasciviously, though their excitement is followed by a loathing of themselves and each other. 

In Book 10, we see Sin and Death building a broad bridge to join earth to Hell, and Satan returning to hell where he and the other fallen angels are humiliated by being transformed into serpents. The world is made a much more difficult and uncomfortable place both by angels sent from God, and by the new presence of Sin and Death. God sends his son to judge but also clothe the sinful pair, and Adam both condemns himself and blames Eve for their predicament. His despair is alleviated by Eve, who asks Adam fot pardon, and shows him the way to effect a reconciliation with God: in this crucial way their Fall differs from Satan's. In Books 11 and 12 God accepts Adam and Eve's repentance, and the archangel Michael is sent to show them both the hideous effects of the Fall in terms of human suffering and disease, and the eventual redemption by Christ, the descendant of Eve. Finally he sends the mout into the fallen world.

Milton's religious ideas on the Fall

Central to Christian theology in the 17th century was the story of the Fall and the Redemption. Following a line of thought first worked out by St Paul, it was accepted that all humankind was descended from Adam and Eve whose disobedience had condemned themselves and all their descendants on death and hell. God's gift on his own son to die on the cross had 'redeemed' or paid for this 'original sin', although the different religious groupings of the time saw this happening in different ways.

The Catholics saw the Fall as caused by the Devil, and the effects of Christ's redeeming blood as being carried through sacraments like baptism, the mass and penance, administered…


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