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A resource for studying Milton's Paradise Lost



Book IV


Now standing on Mount Niphates in full view of Eden, Satan is struck by doubt over what he is about to do. He reflects upon his ambition, the folly of his rebellion, and the despair that he has sunk into. However, believing that repentance is impossible, he confirms himself more deeply in evil than before. The fear and anger in his face betray his disguise to Uriel who is watching from afar.

Satan leaps over the bounds of Paradise in the shape of a cormorant, and sits in the Tree of Life, from which he can see the entire garden. Satan catches sight of Adam and Eve for the first time, witnessing their freedom from shame and Eve's absolute devotion to Adam. The sight of their innocence and their harmony with all other creatures in the garden provokes further reflection from Satan on the prospect of their joy turning to despair. Despite his consciousness of the abhorrence of his actions, he speaks of his compulsion to act and excuses himself.

He overhears Adam say that the only condition of their living in Paradise is that they do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge lest they bring death into the world. Eve confirms this and tells the story of her entry into the world and her meeting Adam. Witnessing this, Satan thinks of his own pain and torment, and questions God's prohibition. He reflects on the basis of Adam and Eve's happiness whilst resolving to tempt them to eat from the Tree.

As the sun sets, Uriel flies to Gabriel to warn him that an evil spirit has managed to gain entry to Paradise. Adam and Eve take to their bower to rest. They praise the night and then engage in loving sexual congress, entirely free from shame in their unfallen state. The angels search the garden and find Satan squatting next to Eve, attempting to implant corrupting visions in her imagination. When touched with a spear, Satan returns to his original shape. At first he resists, but then he flees.






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