Paradise Lost Essay

In Milton’s Paradise Lost, before the fall Adam and Eve live in harmony with one another, enjoy the provisions and comforts of nature, and have a direct relationship with God and the angels. Unimpeded with conflict, they live in innocence, working not out of necessity but to make their home beautiful, speaking not to clear up misunderstanding but for the pleasure of it, and anticipating a time when they will rise up to the order of angels and be favoured with a closer communion with God. The fall changes all this. Everything becomes more separated, more differentiated: there grows a distance between Adam and Eve, they can understand each other less and they argue more; nature is no longer harmonious but rather something to be wrestled and toiled with; what was once pleasurable and innocent might now be incontinent and evil; God and the angels no more indulge humankind with friendship and discourse but distance themselves and become almost inaccessible. Adam and Eve, raised on innocence and pleasure alone, have to learn how to live in this new world where nature is mutually incompatible with God.The first thing Adam is taught is how to reason morally. Michael spends a lot of time showing Adam the image of death, lust, greed, disease, and other vices that are now to be a part of his world. When shown the image of lascivious festivities, Adam says “Much better seems this Vision, and more hope / Of peaceful days portends […] Here Nature seems fulfilled in all her ends” (11.599-602). Adam is accustomed to the pleasures of paradise, and this idyllic scene reminds him of the times he enjoyed feasting with Raphael and sleeping with Eve. He believes that sex, once the pleasing and natural nightly activity, is still to be thought as such….

…ey are now differentiated and divided. Once they shared in their labours, now they are given different roles; Eve is told to bear children and Adam to work the earth for sustenance.Adam and Eve are now to live divided in a world from which God has distanced himself, and in consequence they are distanced from Him as well. In the invocation of Book 9, the narrator said that prior to the fall God would sit indulgent with humankind, “permitting him the while / Venial discourse unblamed” (9.4-5). Now the discourse with heaven is no longer be unblamed. The lessons given by Michael stand in contrast to those of Raphael as much colder and formal; Raphael would sit with Adam and Eve and partake in their meal, while Michael stands with full armour and lectures Adam. Michael also criticizes Adam’s judgment on numerous occasions, correcting him for misguided interpretation.

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