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A resource for studying Milton's Paradise Lost



The approach of the angel Raphael

The approach of the angel Raphael



The character of Raphael, an angel whom God sends down to earth to talk to Adam and Eve and warn them against temptation, plays a surprisingly large part in Paradise Lost. Essentially just another angel on God's side in the battle with Satan, Raphael ends up narrating to Adam the rebellion and war in heaven and the creation of the world. It is through his voice that we hear God's justification for the events we see unfolding. This voice forms an interesting connection between the heavenly and the earthly, and through it Milton explores the substance of the angelic.

Raphael's heavenly nature is emphasized when he initially appears in Book V. His 'gorgeous wings' (V.250) are repeatedly mentioned, and we are told that 'six wings he wore, to shade | His lineaments divine' (V.277). This celestial characteristic is what Adam notices when Raphael first approaches, and Adam addresses the angel, 'native of heaven, for other place | None can than heaven such glorious shape contain' (V.361). However, as Raphael remains with Adam and Eve, Milton then emphasizes the characteristics that he has in common with his earthly hosts. They eat together, Milton dismissing the myth that angels do not need to eat: 'for know, whatever was created, needs | To be sustained and fed' (V.414). They are also connected by their shared discourse. This creature that sits easily with heavenly and earthly inhabitants alike is therefore perfectly positioned to convey heavenly happenings to earthly people. Milton shows us that, unlike Michael, Raphael does not simply quote God verbatim, but tries to express the concepts he describes in a way Adam and Eve will understand:

what surmounts the reach
Of human sense, I shall delineate so,
By likening spiritual to corporeal forms,
As may express them best. (V.571)




The Son



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