Book Summaries for Paradise Lost

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Paradise Lost
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Significant Themes and Topics
Redefining the epic
Redefining heroism
Is God actually good? Is Satan evil?
Obedience and subordination
Obedience to God
Power dynamics; the nature of power
Similarities between Milton and Satan; Milton and Eve
Critique of past forms of prose
Serpent uses Petrarchan language to appeal to Eve to get her to eat
the fruit and cause the downfall of mankind
Eve also seems to embrace this
Wants Adam to love only her, doesn't want another Eve to come
along and replace her
Free Will
oAnd how it is earned
Important Passages
oBook 1 lines 1-26
Milton invokes Muse of the Holy Spirit; not a traditional Muse; claims
it is a better muse than the traditional muses used by famous epics of the
past (i.e. Aeneid, Iliad, Odyssey)
Aligns himself with Moses, who received the Ten Commandments;
show the justice of God's ways to men
Wants to rise above the traditional muses
oBook 3 lines 1-55
Satan and Milton are both on a journey from darkness to light; so is
the journey of Adam and Eve, Paradise lost and regained
Compares himself to classical blind seers but also Satan (who is
blinded by his pride)
Through inspiration of the Holy Spirit and his blindness will tell of
things invisible to mortal sight
oBook 7 lines 1-39
Invokes Muse Urania (not typically a muse)
Wants to surpass ancient tradition
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Implies perilous audacity with reference to Pegasus and
Bellerophon, who tried to ride up to heaven on Pegasus and was
struck down; he fell into the plain of error where he wandered blind
and alone until his death
Is this Milton's fear as well?
Aligns himself with Orpheus again
oBook 9 lines 1-47
Will tell a tale or heroism more heroic than traditional epics
Patient, heroic martyr is more heroic than epics of war conquests
characterized by passions and rage
Based on feelings of being slighted
Satan felt he was being slighted by God; felt that he should
have power equal to God
Satan is like the old epic hero, where Adam will be the new epic
Rejects classical subjects; fighting, wars, knights
"The skill or artifice or office mean, / not that which justly gives
heroic name / to person or to poem/ higher argument remains"
Reading Guide
Book 1 Notes
Description of hell
Satan's speeches:
oFeels that bowing down to God is worse than the fall from heaven
oIt is best to do evil and resist God's will
oSatan thinks the mind is its own place, and that it can be used to make a
heaven out of hell or a hell out of heaven
oSatan feels it is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven
oFeels that the devils can rise again and reclaim their seats in heaven
oSatan wants to make war on heaven in some way; peace would mean
God releases Satan to make himself more damned and show that the men he
attempts to seduce are given mercy but he is met with vengeance and wrath
Satan is under God's control; but he thinks it is his own strength allowing him to
'defy' God
Satan thinks God used force to keep himself supreme over his equals (the devils, in
Satan's eyes)
Satan rouses other fallen angels; says they are giving up to God if they just lie there,
or just because it is easy to rest now
oRoused by Satan's pride and words that bear only semblance of worth, not
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