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E211 JOHN MILTON QUESTIONS, PARADISE LOST
Assigned: John Milton. Paradise Lost, Books 1-2, 4, 9 (Norton Vol. B, 1945-86, 2003-24, 2091-2116).
Of Interest: John Rogers on the Miltonic Simile | Soul Theory 1 | Soul Theory 2 | Great Chain of Being | Typology | Allegory | Classical Rhetoric | Arguments | Paradise Lost "Look Fors" | Paradise Lost Review List | Paradise Lost Book 9 as Drama | Paradise Lost Modes and Conventions | Paradise Lost Interpretation Guide | Paradise Lost Chronology | Divine Right Theory
NOTE ON THE STRUCTURE OF PARADISE LOST
Books 1-2 correspond to Books 11-12: Permanent fall of Satan vs. fortunate fall of Adam and Eve.
Books 3-4 correspond to Books 9-10: God's prophecies; Satan's enterprising trips and temptations; focus on dialogue between Adam and Eve; explanation of relations between heaven and earth.
Books 5-6 correspond to Books 7-8: Books 5-8 make up a separable, yet combined, block. Adam and Eve are instructed about events in heaven and about their place in the created order. The whole block 5-8 concerns the War in Heaven and its consequences. Christ appears as a warrior in 5-6; he appears as the Word in 7-8. (Thanks to Prof. Harold Toliver of UC Irvine for this structural note.)
BOOK ONE QUESTIONS
Note: These questions are taken from my Milton English 317 course from 2013; I have left the numbering intact from the complete set, which you can find at E317 Paradise Lost
1. Examine the narrator's invocation from Paradise Lost 1.1-26 ("Of Man's First Disobedience . . .") and his epic question and answer from 1.27-49 ("Say first, for Heav'n hides nothing from thy view . . ."). What is the source of the narrator's authority? What kind of persona is established when we put the invocations, the question, and the answer together? How does this poet-narrator compare to, say, the epic narrator of Homer's Iliad or Odyssey, Virgil's narrator in The Aeneid, Dante's Pilgrim in The Inferno from The Divine Comedy or Spenser's narrator in The Faerie Queene, if you are familiar with those works?
2. Consider the purpose of Paradise Lost 1.50-83 ("Nine times the Space that measures Day and Night . . .") immediately following the invocation, question and answer. For example, in these lines the narrator begins to let us into Satan's perspective on his fall and his new surroundings, suggests in part the proper attitude to take towards that perspective (including Satan's sensory perceptions and emotions) and begins the task of describing the grand scenes that this poem of cosmic scale must help us imagine. So what is Satan's perspective, what attitude towards that approach is the narrator modeling for us, and what strategies is he introducing to convey the epic's outsized imagery and scope?
3. Examine the first speech that Satan makes, the one he makes only to his arch-lieutenant Beelzebub (Paradise Lost 1.84-124, "If thou beest hee . . ."), followed by the narrator's brief gloss on the speech once it has concluded (1.125-27, "So spake th' Apostate Angel . . ."). What image is Satan trying to project at this point? What narrative is he already beginning to spin about the War in Heaven and the defeat of the rebellious angels as well as the present situation going forwards?
4. Examine Beelzebub's response (Paradise Lost 1.128-55, "O Prince, O Chief of many Throned Powers . . .") to Satan's initial speech: what is this fallen angel's view of the rebels' predicament, and how does it differ from the one Satan has just offered? Does Beelzebub know something Satan doesn't, or does he admit something that Satan will not admit? Explain.
5. Consider Satan's counter-response (Paradise Lost 1.157-91, ""Fall'n Cherub . . .") to Beelzebub's words. How does he show himself to be a skilled rhetorician even at this early point? Skill notwithstanding, Satan's argument is clearly very flawed. What serious error/s in judgment or logic does he commit?
6. After Satan's response to Beelzebub, we are treated to the narrator's first "observer" simile (Paradise Lost 1.200-210, "or that Sea-beast / Leviathan . . ."), as Geoffrey Hartman has called them. Actually, it is a series of similes from 1.192ff, but the main one is of the observer type: it figures a Norwegian boat captain who moors beside Leviathan, mistaking the beast for an island. Examine this simile as closely as you can: why are such similes central to the task of Milton and his narrator in describing heavenly things that really can't be described or fully "taken in" from a fallen human perspective? Furthermore, why do you think it's so important to Milton to undertake this seemingly impossible task? (Especially if you are doing a presentation on this question, you might find it worthwhile to have a look at the following thoughtful essay: John Rogers on the Miltonic Simile.)
7. After the narrator's simile comes what may well be the very first elegiac utterance (Paradise Lost 1. 242-50, "Is this the Region, this the Soil . . ."), and it comes directly from the lips of Satan during his reflections in company with Beelzebub that stretch from 1.242-70. Milton obviously enjoys bringing us these "firsts," but what purpose or purposes does this one serve? What resolution does this elegiac moment allow Satan to reach, and what do we learn about his predicament and attitude thereby?
8. Soon, yet another of the narrator's extended series of similes occurs (Paradise Lost 1.283-313 "He scarce had ceas't . . ."). Again, how do these similes -- especially the observer simile reference "the Tuscan Artist" Galileo (1.288) -- dramatize the situation in which the narrator finds himself as well as our own difficulties as readers grappling with the distance (in time, space, and understanding) between ourselves and the great personages and events being set before us?
9. Read Satan's speech to his entire host from Paradise Lost 1.315-30 (a call to order, or an exordium if you prefer, beginning "Princes, Potentates . . .") and then from 1.622-62 ("O Myriads of immortal Spirits, O Powers . . ."). This speech in part serves to offer a revisionist history of the rebel angels' fall. What are the main features and assumptions that drive this revisionist history? In what ways is Satan's version in error? Moreover, what is his plan going forwards, and what seems to be his rationale for it?
10. What purpose is served by the lengthy name-dropping or "catalog" section that stretches from Paradise Lost 1.376-522? ("Say, Muse, thir Names then known . . .") that follows a remarkable simile-laden description of their arising at Satan's command from 1.331-75 ("They heard, and were abasht . . ."). As for the preparatory description, what does it add to our understanding of the current scene? In responding, consider that it is also a flash-forward with regard to the pagan religions' role in human history.
11. In Paradise Lost 1.522-621 ("but with looks / Downcast and damp . . ."), the narrator offers us an extended description of the fallen host as it responds to Satan's call to "Awake, arise, or be for ever fall'n" (1.330). What sense of that host's size and qualities does this section encourage, and what feelings and thoughts are attributed to Satan as he views this grand army? Moreover, how does the entire description work by way of comparison to the mortal armies and assemblies to which epic poets such as Homer will one day pay tribute?
12. In Paradise Lost 1.670-751 ("There stood a Hill not far . . ."), with Satan's magnificent oratory having generated its desired effect, a subset of the bad angels follow Mammon to a gold-bearing hill from which they get the raw materials to build Pandemonium, which they now do. Clearly, this description aims an ethical barb at the pomp and circumstance of history's human princes and its revelers in great wealth. What grounds does Milton's narrator find for thus belittling our pretensions regarding earthly permanence and splendor?
13. Examine Paradise Lost 1.752-98 ("Meanwhile the winged Heralds . . .") and especially 1.777-98 ("Behold a wonder! . . .") wherein the Infernal Council assembles. How is Milton's narrator having some fun at the bad angels' expense here at the end of the first book? Consider the narrator's description of the devils' physical qualities and the way he characterizes their "great consult": what is he suggesting about the degree of reality one can attribute to such beings, and how does this suggestion encourage us to reflect on the earlier descriptions in Book 1?
14. The "great consult" that was assembled at the end of the first book is now in session. In Paradise Lost 2.11-42 ("Powers and Dominions . . ."), what initial picture of Satan do we get from the narrator? What is Satan's opening strategy as an orator, and why does he most likely adopt it, given the audience he faces?
15. Moloch speaks next, from 2.43-105 of Paradise Lost ("He ceas'd . . ."). We know that Moloch is hotheaded even for a devil, which no doubt has much to do with the fact that he advises an immediate resumption of material war against God. But what rationale does he offer for that plan? Why does he think there's no point doing anything else?
16. Belial, a suave and graceful if dishonest fallen angel, rises up and succeeds Moloch from 2.108-225 of Paradise Lost ("On th'other side up rose / Belial . . ."). Clearly, Belial wants no part of further war, but what exactly does he set forth by way of argument for avoiding it? What is erroneous about his thinking? Nevertheless, how is he appealing to what we might suppose to be the sensibilities of his audience in offering such counsel as he does?
17. Mammon, to whom we were introduced in Book 1 as the architect of the Infernal City, gets his chance to address the council right after Belial, from 2.229-83 of Paradise Lost ("Either to disinthrone the King of Heav'n . . ."). What advice does he offer? To what extent does he agree with what Belial has just said, and wherein do the two bad angels' views differ? Furthermore, what inferences about the quality of Mammon's logic might we draw from his statement that the devils should "seek / Our own good from ourselves, and from our own / Live to ourselves" (2.252-54)?
18. After Mammon, next to speak in council is politician-like Beelzebub, whose pitch runs from 2.310-416 of Paradise Lost ("Thrones and Imperial Powers . . ."). Why does he determine that it's pointless to continue debating whether to wage war or seek peace? Since that seems to him the case, Beelzebub promotes Satan's program of maintaining a divided or rival empire against God (Satan uses this language later, in Book 4.110-11: "Evil be thou my Good; by thee at least / Divided Empire with Heav'n's King I hold . . .," but it's implicit in his earlier speeches, as when he boasts to Beelzebub at 1.105-06, "What though the field be lost? / All is not lost . . ."). Why might Beelzebub think that's possible, in spite of the unlimited powers of such a foe? Furthermore, how exactly are the devils supposed to pursue the goal of establishing and maintaining a rival empire: what's the plan of action to do that?
19. Finally, Satan steps in after Beelzebub's speech has culminated in an affirmative vote, and caps off the council proceedings from 2.426-67 of Paradise Lost ("till at last /Satan . . ."). How does Satan here (in league with Beelzebub, see 4.417-26) show himself a master actor and politician in the way he manages his own image and actions? We know that "delivery" (displaying suitable emotions, gestures and timing while speaking) is one of the five canons of classical oratory: there's more to rhetoric than logic. In responding, therefore, consider the performance-oriented aspects of Satan's brief speech in addition to the ideas he sets forth.
20. The narrator describes the Council's concluding assent and ceremonies from 2.466-520 of Paradise Lost ("Thus saying rose / The Monarch, and prevented all reply . . ."). How does he balance the need to endow Satan with epic grandeur with the need to maintain clarity about his true moral standing? In responding, note also the "Miltonic aside" in this segment, in which the narrator moralizes against fallen human disunity from lines 2.496-505 ("O shame to men! . . .").
21. In Paradise Lost 2.521-628 ("Thence more at ease . . ."), the breakup of the Infernal Council gives way to the narrator's compelling description of the dispersion and distribution of the fallen angels in Hell. What do the devils do? Characterize the behavior of the different bands as they follow their inclinations: what drives them to do these things, and how much respect does the narrator appear to grant the resultant activities (athletics, war games, epic poetry, philosophy, etc.)? How do some of these descriptions serve as a gloss on later human activities and interests?
22. From 2.570-628 of Paradise Lost ("Another part in Squadrons . . ."), we encounter a sub-section of the narrator's description of the fallen angels' scattering in bands; in this sub-section, the narrator deals with the topography of Hell that unfolds to the adventurous bad angels, a topography that includes the ancient rivers of Hades: Styx, Acheron, Cocytus, Phlegethon, and Lethe. In this passage, how does the narrator describe this strange landscape and outline the sufferings of the damned that will occur long after the original events now being described?
23. Satan makes his way towards the Gates of Hell from 2.629-48 Paradise Lost ("Meanwhile the Adversary . . ."), and when he arrives, we are treated at length from 2.648-870 ("Before the Gates there sat . . ." through "Thy daughter and thy darling, without end") to the remarkable -- and rather Spenserian, given its grotesque allegorical quality -- encounter between Satan and his unacknowledged daughter/lover Sin and their son, Death. The encounter's mechanics have been more or less set forth in my outline of Book 2 (see link towards the top of this book's questions), so concentrate instead on its dramatic and psychological significance: through what psychological stages does Satan have to travel to acknowledge (to the extent that he does, anyway) the consequences of his own previous acts? Moreover, for their part, what do Sin and Death appear to want? What is this allegorical drama perhaps suggesting to us about the nature of sin, whether Satan or a fallen human being is committing it?
24. In Paradise Lost 2.871-927 ("Thus saying, from her side the fatal Key . . ."), the narrator images the opening of Hell's Gates and then points us towards the wild prospect before the eyes of Sin, Death, and Satan. What is to be found in this "dark / Illimitable Ocean" (2.891-92)? What is going on there, and what significance might the place and its activities have by way of explaining "where things stand" in the epic at this point? Finally, what figure does Satan cut as he prepares to wing his way into this strange realm?
25. In Paradise Lost 2.927-50 ("At last his Sail-broad Vans / He spreads for flight . . ."), how does the narrator represent Satan's plunge and progress through the abyss he must travel? Based on the representational strategy you find, what seems to be the narrator's attitude towards Satan at this point? How much dignity is afforded Satan as he undertakes what is without doubt a bold epic exploit on the order of those carried out by the Sumerian Gilgamesh, Homer's Odysseus, Virgil's Aeneas, Spenser's Redcrosse Knight or Dante's Pilgrim?
26. In Paradise Lost 2.951-1009 ("At length a universal hubbub wild . . ."), the narrator encapsulates the encounter between Satan and Chaos on his throne, wherein they strike a bargain that will let Satan find his way first towards Heaven's environs, and eventually to earth. First, how does Milton represent the weird, paradoxical state of affairs that Satan finds when he nears the throne of Chaos? Second, what is the affinity of interest between these two characters? In what ways might it make sense to say they differ? If you are presenting, do a bit of research online regarding the ancient concept and personification of Chaos, and fold what you discover into your responses.
27. In Paradise Lost 2.1010-1055 ("He ceas'd; and Satan stay'd not to reply . . ."), the narrator describes Satan's continued flight through the "wild expanse" (2.1014) of Chaos' realm to calmer space; he is making his way towards Heaven's environs. How does the topographical imaging here (an attempt to help us picture what Satan himself sees) effectively cap off the action of Book 2, which has traced the progression of Satan's plans from the council stage to an epic crossing through dangerous regions in preparation for what we know will be a bold attempt on mankind?
38. In Paradise Lost 4.1-113 ("O for that warning voice . . ."), the narrator briefly prepares us for Satan's revealing soliloquy, and then we hear the bad angel himself. First, what is the basic dramatic purpose of such a speech -- why should we be hearing it at this point? Then examine the soliloquy: by what process of feeling and logic does Satan arrive at his resolution "Evil be thou my Good" (4.110)? How does he set forth the nature of God's rule as well as the real cause and consequences of his own rebellion against that rule?
39. In Paradise Lost 4.114-30 ("Thus while he spake . . ."), Uriel scans the mercurial emotions that show in Satan's face, and realizes that the visitor is in fact one of the bad angels. From 4.131-93 ("So on he fares . . ."), Satan reaches Eden's border and jumps the wall into Eden proper, disdaining the gate set up to keep the likes of him out. What does the environment look like at this point? Try to sketch the basic topography of Paradise and what immediately lies beyond it, i.e. the area through which Satan seems to travel to find his way into Paradise.
40. In Paradise Lost 4.194-287 ("Thence up he flew . . ."), Satan, disguised as a cormorant, alights on the Tree of Life and views the Garden of Eden. What is in this Garden? What does it look like, and what seems to be the narrator's strategy for representing the Garden, both in terms of physical description and classical/historical allusion? What qualities are emphasized most? What do you find the most appealing aspect of the narrator's account of this Garden, and why?
41. In Paradise Lost 4.288-324 ("Two of far nobler shape . . ."), Satan beholds Adam and Eve, and the narrator offers a splendid (though biased in favor of the male, as we moderns can't help but notice) portrait of the first couple. How are Adam and Eve described in terms of their physical appearance, and how does the narrator use those descriptions to tease out the proper relationship between the two, and between them and God? What are those relationships, as you understand them based on your reading of this passage and perhaps other sections of the epic? Furthermore, if you are presenting on this question, what does the "Miltonic aside" from 4.312-18 ("Nor those mysterious parts were then conceal'd . . .") add to your understanding of the description?
42. In Paradise Lost 4.325-55 ("Under a tuft of shade . . ."), the narrator broadens the portrait of Adam and Eve to include their evening dinner and dalliance. What seems to be the connection between them and the rest of the creatures who inhabit the Garden of Eden? Lions, tigers, bears, lynxes and leopards aren't noted nowadays for their friendliness to human beings. What, then, in the unfallen state of things, would have been the purpose of the sharp claws, fearsome fangs and tremendous strength of such creatures? In the beginning, what principle might have been uppermost in the supposed combination of such capacities with the beauty and grace we find in, say, a lion or a leopard?
43. In Paradise Lost 4.356-410 ("When Satan still in gaze . . ."), Satan in soliloquy sets forth his general plan to draw Adam and Eve to destruction, followed by their eventual offspring, and the narrator caps off this segment with a bitter gloss. What is Satan's basic plan? How does he justify it to himself, and what emotions does the narrator ascribe to him throughout this section of the text? In responding, especially if you are presenting on this question, you might consider the reflections of another great scoundrel, Shakespeare's Richard III, who says in 4.2 of King Richard III, "I am in / So far in blood that sin will pluck on sin: / Tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye" (see MIT's online version) How do Satan's rationale and attitude here compare to that of Richard III?
44. In Paradise Lost 4.411-39 ("Sole partner and sole part of all these joys . . ."), Adam gently lectures Eve about their responsibilities as Eden's sole human inhabitants. How does Adam seem to understand his and Eve's situation with respect to God? What does he know at this point, so far as you can tell, about the Tree of Knowledge and about the "Death" that will overtake him and his mate if they should transgress and eat the fruit of that tree? How does this account compare to that of the Bible's Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17 in terms of what it says, and what it doesn't say?
45. In Paradise Lost 4.440-91 ("To whom thus Eve repli'd . . ."), Eve praises Adam's wisdom and offers an account of her own first memories upon awakening to life (which Adam will later supplement with his own birth-recollections in Book 8.250-316, "For Man to tell how human Life began . . ."). This story is clearly indebted to Ovid's tale of Narcissus and Echo in Metamorphoses Book III (see Library of Virginia online version), so have a look at that version (in the online edition cited, it runs from lines 339-510) and set down your thoughts on how Eve's story compares with, and differs from, that of the youth Narcissus, son of the naiad Liriope and the river-god Cephisus. Finally, as Milton would surely say, we read such tales with "fallen" eyes and are therefore apt to misinterpret them: so what saves Eve's current story from imputing some degree of guilt to her even in her unfallen state?
46. In Paradise Lost 4.492-538 ("So spake our general Mother . . ."), Satan shows that he now has the information he needs to destroy the happiness of Adam and Eve: he will feed them an argument about the supposed unfairness of the "forbidden tree," i.e. the Tree of Knowledge. What does Satan profess to think is so unfair and even absurd about God's placing such a tree in front of Adam and Eve? Do you get the sense that he believes his own argument to some extent, or is it purely tactical? What's your reason for thinking as you do? Finally, if you choose to present on this question, you might also consider the story told in the Bible's Genesis 2-3 about the placing of the forbidden Tree in the Garden of Eden and the fall of Eve and Adam. How do you understand what this Tree represents?
47. In Paradise Lost 4.610-88 ("When Adam thus to Eve: Fair Consort . . ."), Adam and Eve engage in some evening conversation. Consider their mutual interaction , including both their respective linguistic styles and their way of relating to each other. There's no doubt that they conform to the narrator's earlier description (see 4.288-324, "Two of far nobler shape . . .") of their personal qualities: Adam is made for "contemplation" and Eve for "softness" and "sweet attractive Grace." Still, what more can be said about their differences and about the qualities that make their relationship one of complementarity rather than conflict? For example, what about Adam's appreciation of industry and the heavens and Eve's gift for poetical utterance, as in 4.639-56 ("With thee conversing I forget all time . . .")?
48. In Paradise Lost 4.689-775 ("Thus talking hand in hand alone . . ."), Adam and Eve say their prayers and prepare to turn in for the evening, and then the narrator laments the degradation of the concept and practice of love since the first couple's brief unfallen time together. What is the subject of their evening prayers, and what light does their manner of recital cast upon their relationship as a couple? Consider also the narrator's "Miltonic aside," which is at least in part about sexual love: why might Milton append such a gloss to his attractive portrait of Adam and Eve as they make their way to bed? What dogma is he rejecting, and what principle is he supporting in its place?
49. In Paradise Lost 4.776-819 ("Now had night measur'd . . ."), an angelic search is conducted, and sure enough, Satan is discovered in the Bower filling sleeping Eve's ear with all sorts of bad thoughts and images. Caught, he resumes his former shape. What is the narratival function of this brief but striking passage, in consideration of the successful temptation of Eve that we know will come later, in Book 9? (Eve reveals to Adam the detailed content of her dream in Book 5.28-94 ("O sole in whom my thoughts find all repose . . ."), and it would be best to examine that passage before replying.) Moreover, consider the present passage in light of what you can find out about Renaissance psychology: the guides Soul Theory 1 and Soul Theory 2 may prove useful, but you may find further material on the Internet valuable as well. What is Satan up to, in terms of psychological mechanics, so to speak?
50. In Paradise Lost 4.820-995 ("Back stepp'd those two fair Angels . . ."), Satan is compelled to identify himself, and does so scornfully. He and the archangel Gabriel trade barbs, and an ominous standoff ensues. Follow their rhetoric and logic as Satan defends his actions and motives and Gabriel tears them down. How exactly does Satan go about justifying his ways to his former colleagues, the angelic host that's still loyal to God? On what grounds does Gabriel successfully undermine Satan's claims and posturing?
51. In Paradise Lost 4.995-1015 ("â€¦ had not soon / Th' Eternal to prevent such horrid fray . . ."), God breaks up the brewing fight between Satan and the good angels by sending down Golden scales that show Satan, at least for the time being, that his boasting is pointless. (The scales are similar to the ones in Homer's Iliad Book 8, where Zeus weighs the fate of the Greek and Trojan armies; see Perseus Project's translation by A.T. Murray, around 8.60-75, "But when they were met together . . .") How does this final episode in the fourth book alter our perception of the back-and-forth arguing we have just been hearing between Satan and Gabriel? How does God's action also illuminate for us his true position with regard to the angelic hierarchy?
97. In Paradise Lost 9.1-47 ("No more of talk where God or Angel Guest . . ."), the narrator makes his fourth and final invocation, in which he calls on Urania to help him do justice to a "higher Argument" (9.42) than the matter of war and chivalry that has filled many previous epics. How does he delineate this higher argument: what is it, and why is it more important than that of other epics? In addition, how is the narrator's subject going to change in the final four books?
98. In Paradise Lost 9.1-47 ("No more of talk where God or Angel Guest . . .") and with reference to the other three invocations (namely at the beginning of Books 1, 3, and 7), make a cumulative analysis of all the invocations: what sense have they provided us regarding the narrator as a kind of character in the text, of the nature and scope of his subject (including any refinements or adjustments you find in the description and treatment of that subject), and of the poetics and inspiration-theory whereby he claims to write as he does?
99. In Paradise Lost 9.48-96 ("The Sun was sunk . . ."), Satan, chased out of Paradise by Gabriel, circles Earth for seven nights, and on the eighth finds a re-entry point into Eden. The narrator takes care to tell us the details of the search that Satan makes before he finds the entry point, and describes the precise manner in which he makes that re-entry. Why do you think the narrator provides such details, in terms of narrative strategy? How do they perhaps modify our perception of the event and help us relate to it from a present-day perspective? Moreover, the narrator lets us in on Satan's reason for choosing a serpent-form rather than that of some other creature. Why does Satan settle on a serpent, and not, say, an elephant or a tiger?
100. In Paradise Lost 9.97-178 ("Thus he resolv'd, but first from inward grief . . ."), a solitary Satan reflects upon the "hateful siege / Of contraries" (9.121-22) that is tearing at his very being. What does he appear to mean by this interesting phrase, and what does it tell us about his nature now that he has debased it by disobedience to God? In addition, follow up on Satan's logic for the remainder of this stretch of text: since he is addressing himself on the verge of carrying out the fatal temptation of Adam and Eve, how does Satan assess his own present situation and his prospects? If he succeeds (which we know he will), what does he believe he will be accomplishing? Finally, we have come across such revealing moments before in Milton's epic when Satan is about to take action: what's the narrative effect or payoff of these soliloquys with regard to our understanding of the action and our feeling for it?
101. In Paradise Lost 9.179-204 ("So saying, through each Thicket . . ."), Satan finds a serpent and slips into that shape, while Adam and Eve rise early and say their morning prayers. From 9.205-69 ("Adam, well may we labor still . . ."), they have a bit of a disagreement about how the day's gardening ought to go: Eve wants to do her share separately, by herself, and Adam isn't happy with that plan. What is Eve's rationale for wanting to stray from Adam's side? Does she make a good case for working separately? Why or why not? How does Adam respond to Eve's request: what concerns does he voice? Does he do so skillfully, or do you find his remarks somewhat lacking in finesse? Explain.
102. In Paradise Lost 9.270-317 ("To whom the Virgin Majesty of Eve . . ."), we find Adam and Eve engaging in round two of their mild disagreement over the division of labor in their gardening work. How does this second round of argumentation go? What is Eve's emphasis now, and how has it changed from what we heard initially? How does Adam counter her position and her attitude? Again, does he do this well? Do you find his performance as a speaker convincing or unconvincing? Explain.
103. In Paradise Lost 9.318-75 ("So spake domestic Adam in his care . . ."), Adam and Eve go through a decisive third round in their argument about how to do the day's gardening. As in the previous two questions, what is Eve's reasoning this time? Consider her argument, which is mostly about what independence and freedom mean. Do you find it sound or defective? Whatever your response, why so? Moreover, what about Adam's response? On what grounds does he finally give Eve his blessing to stray from his side, after so much effort to convince her not to do that? Has Adam actually changed his mind, or is he just caving? Explain why you think as you do on this point.
104. In Paradise Lost 9.376-384 ("So spake the Patriarch of Mankind . . ."), Eve prepares to set out on her own, undaunted by any danger and wrongly supposing that the enemy's pride will prevent him from attacking a woman rather than Adam first. From 9.385-472 ("Thus saying, from her Husband's hand . . ."), Eve does her gardening and Satan makes his way towards her. By what means does the narrator heighten the intensity and pathos of these moments, which we know are Eve's last as an innocent being? What role does Satan himself play in this heightening effect, as he seeks and finds his mark? In responding, consider the effect innocent Eve has on Satan's mood as he beholds the scene before him.
105. In Paradise Lost 9.473-531 ("Thoughts, whither have ye led me . . ."), Satan explains his reason for tempting Eve alone, and then snakes his way (though upright, not like modern serpents) right up to Eve. First of all, what is his rationale for picking on Eve first and alone? Next, what does he look like at this point, and how does he attract Eve's attention? Consider also a few of the classical allusions to serpents the narrator weaves into his description: what quality or insight do they add to the portrait of the snake that wends his way towards his fateful encounter with Eve?
106. In Paradise Lost 9.532-548 ("Wonder not, sovran Mistress . . ."), Satan makes his first pitch to tempt Eve, and from 9.549-66 ("So gloz'd the Tempter . . ."), Eve reacts. How does Satan choose to open his performance, and why do you think he has made that choice, based on your own understanding of Eve thus far? How does Eve process this opening gambit? Furthermore, does this "proem" or preparatory part of the attempt seem facile, or do you find that it connects to the deeper grounds of temptation that soon develop during Satan's encounter with Eve, or, for that matter, to potential spurs toward disobedience that we might infer from previous moments in Milton's epic?
107. In Paradise Lost 9.567-612 ("To whom the guileful Tempter thus repli'd.â€¦"), Satan uses Eve's curiosity to begin making his pitch in earnest, which of course involves testimonial-style effusions about the life-transforming benefits he received upon eating his fill of the forbidden fruit. We know that Eve has been warned about a dangerous foe who wants to do her and Adam harm, so what is so appealing about Satan's claims as to lead her to take them seriously? Analyze Satan's argument and his manner of delivering it, that is, and explain why it's compelling to Eve. In responding, you might consider this part of the argument as being rooted in an "appeal through the vehicle of character," i.e. the sort of move we might expect not far from the beginning of a classical piece of oratory. (See the guide on Classical Rhetoric.)
108. In Paradise Lost 9.613-46 ("So talk'd the spirited sly Snake . . ."), Eve agrees to follow the serpent to the fatal Tree of Knowledge, making him very happy for the moment. Then, from 9.647-732 ("Serpent, we might have spar'd our coming hither . . .") comes the main confrontation between Eve and the serpent. How does she at first deal with the fact that the serpent has led her to the one tree God has said she and Adam can't enjoy? How does Satan immediately answer her concerns? Furthermore, it seems that Eve's invocation of the punishment "death" gives Satan just the opening he needs to launch into his devastatingly effective main argument: so how does he make use of Eve's mention of that term? As in the previous question, analyze Satan's argument and his manner of delivering it. That is, explain why it's compelling to Eve: what key claims or moments in this performance conduce to Satan's successful suborning of Eve?
109. In Paradise Lost 9.733-79 ("He ended, and his words replete with guile . . ."), Eve pauses and reflects on what she has just heard from Satan in disguise. How does the narrator represent the operation of Eve's faculties and her decision-making process under the influence of the subtle serpent? In other words, how does the narrative here give us a sense of the appeal that the forbidden fruit now has for Eve, and of the impact Satan's words have had on her mind and spirit? Moreover, how, simply in logical terms, does she sum up the argument she has heard in favor of tasting "the Fruit / Of that Forbidden Tree," as the narrator called it at the epic's very beginning?
110. In Paradise Lost 9.780-833 ("So saying, her rash hand in evil hour . . ."), Eve finally reaches for the fruit, takes a bite, and then eats her fill. We are told that Earth itself "felt the wound" (9.782) inflicted by this dreadful choice and act. How does the narrator represent the change that comes over Eve once she has sinned? Reflect on her seeming intoxication and her distorted reasoning process: what expectations does she have now? How might her regard for the Tree itself be regarded as the first human instance of idolatry, which was of course a tendency that Puritans like Milton despised? (On this matter, see also 9.834-88, "So saying, from the Tree her step she turn'd . . ..") What concerns wash over Eve now with regard to her yet-unknowing (i.e. unfallen) partner Adam? Finally, in what respects (and to what extent) do Eve's reasoning and attitude now resemble those of Satan?
111. In Paradise Lost 9.834-55 ("So saying, from the Tree her step she turn'd . . ."), Adam anxiously awaits Eve for a while, then goes to greet her near the Tree of Knowledge, where he finds her looking anything but innocent. Then, from 9.856-85 ("Hast thou not wonder'd, Adam, at my stay?â€¦"), Eve breaks the news to Adam regarding her transgression. How does she represent her actions: that is, what does she claim was her motive in eating the forbidden fruit? Is there any truth to what Eve says, or is she simply lying? In responding to the latter question, you might want to refer back briefly to Eve's thoughts immediately after she has eaten the fruit (9.780-833, "So saying, her rash hand in evil hour . . .") to see if what she says now matches what she thought before.
112. In Paradise Lost 9.886-989 ("Thus Eve with Count'nance blithe her story told . . ."), how does Adam react to the news that Eve has just given him? First, how does he process this information inwardly, and then what analysis of Eve's sin and their prospects as a couple for the near future does he offer when he turns to address Eve directly? What insight about Adam's present state of mind emerges when we put these two moments in the text together? (In responding, consider the heterogeneous quality of the reasons Adam gives for deciding to follow Eve's lead and eat the forbidden fruit.) Finally, what about Eve's counter-response to Adam's analysis of what she has done? How does she defend herself from the implied reproach?
113. In Paradise Lost 9.990-1133 ("So saying, she embrac'd him . . ."), Adam eats the forbidden fruit, and now both he and Eve enter their post-lapsarian or fallen phase of existence. Consider the sweep of events in this stretch of the epic: how have the consciousness and conduct of Adam and Eve been transformed by their first bad decision? In particular, how does the narrator capture the unhappy combination of self-awareness and self-delusion that becomes part of Adam and Eve's way of looking at the world? Finally, one key alteration is that shame makes its entrance into human life. How does that concept go beyond a simple reference to what the narrator represents as now-guilty sexuality?
114. In Paradise Lost 9.1134-1189 ("Would thou hadst heark'n'd to my words . . ."), we hear the first real argument between Adam and Eve, now that they have fallen and gone through the initial feelings pertinent to that alteration. What is the substance of their disagreement, and how is it like some of the "married folks" bickering one hears today? Does either partner have a better case than the other to make, or are Adam and Eve both equally dishonest and mistaken? Explain.
115. General question. In Paradise Lost Book 9, the narrator tells us from the outset that he must now cover material that is both closer to home and "tragic" in its consequences for humanity going forward. From 9.780 on ("So saying, her rash hand in evil hour . . ."), we are dealing with fallen Adam and Eve, not with the innocent beings we knew in earlier books. But then, Milton's narrator is subject to the same consequences as everybody else: he is a fallen, mortal human being. How does the narrator, then, incorporate a sense of his own fallenness, his own limitations, into his account of the first sin? What attitude does he adopt in telling us about Adam and Eve's bad decision and about the way they think, speak and act afterwards?
Edition: Greenblatt, Stephen and Carol T. Christ. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 9th. edition. Package 1: Vols. A, B, C. Paperback. Norton: 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0393913002.