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A resource for studying Milton's Paradise Lost



Book I


Book I of Paradise Lost introduces Milton's intention to write a great epic of lasting literary importance about the biblical story of the Fall of Man, Adam and Eve's expulsion from Paradise, and the consequences of eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. It also tells the reader, briefly, about the rebellion of some of the angels and their subsequent expulsion from heaven.

It then gets to the heart of the action, presenting the reader with an image of Satan and the host of newly fallen angels, writhing in confusion, prostrate on a burning lake in Hell. They eventually start to rise and Milton describes the ranks of Satan's army and his rousing speech to them, which describes a prophecy of man and a new world. We are told about the fallen angels as individual, militaristic figures and their response to their leader. Satan speaks compellingly. He is charismatic and uses powerful rhetoric. We begin to build up a sympathetic picture of an appealing Satan: Satan as an anti-hero. The close of Book I sees the building of the palace Pandæmonium and the preparations for a council of Hell.





Milton and the Critics


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