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Paradise Lost Read-a-Long – Books V and VI

paradise-lost-8

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Hi everyone! I’m still reading Paradise Lost with Carolyn at Rosemary and Reading Glasses and friends. The poem is no doubt challenging, but the more I read (and re-read), the more I think it’s a fascinating story and rightfully deserves its iconic status.

* CONTAINS SPOILERS

Book V

Summary

Eve has a strange dream about a voice that calls to her and encourages her to taste the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge to gain god-like powers. She tells Adam about the dream and he doesn’t like it, but tells her not to worry. Meanwhile, God has sent the angel Raphael to warn Adam about Satan’s sinister intentions. He explains to Adam that when God created mankind, he gave them free will and the ability to make decisions for themselves. However, the caveat is mankind’s perfection would become tainted if any acts disobey God. Raphael tells Adam about the events that led to Satan’s fall. How when God revealed he had a son that would rule as his right-hand, Satan became jealous and refused to worship the son. He gathered a number of angels and set up his own throne in Heaven. One of the angels, Abdiel spoke out against what Satan was doing and returned to God’s side.

Thoughts

I didn’t get at first that Raphael is describing to Adam the battle between Satan and God’s angels which led to the rebelling angels being sent to Hell. I thought it was a different fight, but I figured it out after a second reading. Where’s Eve in this conversation by the way? Did they think the little woman was too daft to understand what Raphael had to say? When I read this part, I also started thinking back to the Bible story. I didn’t remember a scene where Raphael has a meeting with Adam, but it appears Milton made it all up. I felt bad for Adam and Eve for being tricked into sin, but being warned about Satan and his intentions changes everything. If they knew Satan was out to get them, they had a fighting chance against him. Raphael specifically spells out that Adam and Even have free will and the ability to choose do the right thing by God. Well, we all know how that turns out.

Book VI

Summary

Raphael continues telling Adam about the events that led to Satan’s fall. Now God has appointed the angels, Gabriel and Michael to lead his army against Satan’s army. A mighty battle between the angels ensues until Michael strikes Satan and wounds him. Satan’s army retreats but return the next day with deadly weapons, but the angels retaliate by throwing actual mountains back. The fighting and destruction in Heaven is intense. God has enough and doesn’t want a third day of fighting, so his son rides into battle on his chariot and uses his powers to send Satan’s army hurtling through a hole out of Heaven and into Chaos where they fall for nine days until reaching Hell. Raphael warns Adam and Eve that Satan will try to trick them and they must remember to obey God.

Thoughts

Reading these two books reminded me of the boys in school who liked heavy metal, grew their hair long and wore black t-shirts with images of pentacles and all sorts of other strange imagery. As a Top 40 gal, heavy metal was a mystery to me until I left high school, but I remember all the media accusations about heavy metal being related to devil worship. At the time, I was fascinated by those boys and their daring to say yes, I like this music and I don’t care what you think. In the same light, I’m fascinated with Milton’s daring to take a very well known Bibilical story and add elements that back in 1667 probably freaked out a lot of people. He not only describes Satan as a character the reader can empathize with, but continuously depicts the son as a separate person from God. I’m sure this was outrageous at the time and I wonder if Milton was accused of devil worship back in the day.

What will happen next? It ain’t looking good for Adam and Eve.

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4 comments on “Paradise Lost Read-a-Long – Books V and VI

  1. Carolyn O
    February 4, 2014

    You know, I’ve read PL so many times that I tend to forget just how much Milton departs from Biblical tradition — great point! His religious convictions definitely departed from the party line, but he managed to avoid the serious persecution that fell on many others.

    Like

  2. Cleo @ Classical Carousel
    February 6, 2014

    The war confused me too, so you were not alone. It took me awhile to figure out the angels had pulled up mountains and were burying their adversaries with them. At least, I think that’s what happened. :-Z

    I’m not an expert but I don’t think Milton believed in the Trinity and you’re right, that would have freaked people out. Yet I don’t find Satan empathetic. Fascinating, absolutely! He is so divorced from reality and truth and in such a skewed way, it is unbelievable. At least it keeps you wondering what he is going to do next!

    Great comments, ebookclassics. You made some good points!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      February 6, 2014

      Ha ha… I just visited your blog at the same time. Oh my goodness, I’m always confused about what’s going on! I think you’re right and Milton didn’t believe in the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus among other things, but claimed he was “divinely inspired” to write Paradise Lost.

      I have mixed feelings about Satan. I agree you can’t help wondering what he’s going to do next. I find him interesting as a character, but I can’t allow myself to like him because I know he’s going to trick Adam and Eve, and ruin mankind forever.

      By the way, are you still reading War and Peace? Just curious because it’s on my list for this year, but I have no idea how or when I’m going to start it. It intimidates me to no end.

      Like

      • Cleo @ Classical Carousel
        February 7, 2014

        LOL! That’s funny that we were on each other’s blogs at the same time! 🙂

        I am still reading War and Peace. I only have about 10% left to go and I just can’t seem to get to it. But I have one read-along finished and two more to go, so I should have some extra time in March. I scheduled War and Peace and just made sure I stuck to the schedule (more or less). It would have been such a shame to read 50%, put it down and take so long to pick it up again, that you have to start all over again! I wasn’t going to let that happen. 🙂 Don’t be intimidated. It’s not that difficult but before you start, you might want to read about Napoleon’s Russian Campaigns …….. just a quick search on Wiki should do it. It will just give you some helpful background. I do recommend, however, that trusty schedule! Oh, and you might want to keep a list of the characters because there are alot of them.

        Are you doing the read-along of Candide in March? I’m going to participate 1) because I’ve never read it before and 2) because it’s short. Is it bad to be happy that a classic is short? 😉

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