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Can you give a very brief summary of Paradise Lost?

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lingorange | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 22, 2010 at 7:19 PM via web

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Can you give a very brief summary of Paradise Lost?

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duryeat | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 22, 2010 at 10:56 PM (Answer #1)

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Paradise Lost is an epic poem by John Milton. It is the story of Lucifer being cast out of Heaven and into Hell. After being kicked out of Paradise, he discovers himself in a hot, barren world. His followers are cast out with him. He is given the chance to return to paradise, but refuses. The most famous quote in the story is, "It is better to reign in hell than serve in Heaven." The moral of the story is hubris will cost you everything in the end.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 22, 2010 at 11:43 PM (Answer #2)

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John Milton's Paradise Lost is broken up into three parts:

  • Books 1-4 focus on Satan
  • Books 5-8 focus on Christ
  • Books 9-12 focus on Adam and Eve.

Milton believes in Monism (one God), so Satan and Jesus are sons of God.  The epic poem begins with the (1) Fall of Satan from Heaven: he is an anti-savior who wants to reap converts to Hell using his daughter Sin and son Death.  The epic then moves on to the (2) creation of the world.  Next, (3) Man (Adam) is instructed to beware of sin by the angel Raphael.  Then, (4) Adam and Eve sin in the Garden.  This is the focus of the poem: the fall and eventual redemption of mankind.  Jesus assumes the form of man to bridge the gap between man and God after the fall.  Finally, (5) Adam and Eve are foretold their future by the angel Michael.  They are led out of Paradise, but they are hopeful.  Overall, Milton champions the absolute freedom of man and individual to choice: "to the pure, all things are pure; to the impure, all things are impure."

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unique254 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted May 23, 2010 at 12:25 AM (Answer #3)

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Paradise Lost is about Adam and Eve—how they came to be created and how they came to lose their place in the Garden of Eden, also called Paradise. It's the same story we find in the first pages of Genesis, expanded by Milton into a very long, detailed, narrative poem. It also includes the story of the origin of Satan. Originally, he was called Lucifer, an angel in heaven who led his followers in a war against God, and was ultimately sent with them to hell. Thirst for revenge led him to cause man's downfall by turning into a serpent and tempting Eve to eat the forbidden fruit.

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