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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
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.
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.
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.
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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