Adam, the first man and representative of humankind. Although gifted with reason and restraint, he allows an excessively passionate tenderness for Eve to blind him. Forewarned by the Archangel Raphael of danger from Satan, he nevertheless yields to Eve’s entreaty that she alone be trusted. When he learns that she has fallen, he chooses to join her rather than turn from her. His first reaction after his own fall is to rebuke and blame her for his own sin. After falling into almost suicidal despair, he repents. When the Archangel Michael foretells the future redemption of humankind by Christ, he accepts his fate with gratitude.
Eve, the first woman and representative of womanhood. Beautiful, gentle, and submissive, she holds Adam enthralled. She is horrified when Satan first approaches her in a dream, but piqued by what she considers Adam’s lack of faith in her, she stubbornly insists on working alone, thereby leaving herself vulnerable to the Serpent’s temptation. Like Adam, after the fall she is first lustful, then quarrelsome. Finally, she too accepts her fate with dignity and resignation.
Satan (Lucifer), the chief of the fallen angels, adversary of God and humanity. His obvious heroism and grandeur are tainted by a perversion of will and accompanying perversion of intellect. Rebellious against God, he is incapable of understanding Him. A self-tormented spirit, conscious of his loss but unwilling to repent, he allows evil to eat away at him, tarnishing his splendor. His degradation is complete when he decides to enter the body of the serpent. His attempt to seduce humanity succeeds, but his triumph is temporary and hollow.
Beelzebub (bee-EHL-zeh-buhb), Satan’s chief lieutenant. Less confident and less splendid than his chief, he works his will and serves as his mouthpiece. In the council of the fallen angels in Pandemonium, he presents forcefully Satan’s plan of indirect war on God through humanity. His proposal carries.
Moloch (MOH-lok), the fiercest of the fallen angels. Appropriately worshiped in later years with human sacrifice, he is bloody-minded and desperate. If the fallen angels cannot win Heaven, he chooses either to make Heaven intolerable for the angels who did not fall or to anger God to the point that He will annihilate the fallen spirits.
Belial (BEE-lee-ehl), a fallen angel industrious only in vice. Smooth and oily, he favors peace at any price and expresses the hope that if the fallen angels do not call God’s attention to themselves, He will forget them and allow their sufferings to decrease. He favors a proper course, but for improper reasons, basing his surrender on sloth, not on acceptance of God’s will.
Mammon (MAM-uhn), a materialistic fallen angel. Like Belial, he is opposed to a second war against Heaven, but he favors a plan of development of natural resources and exploitation of Hell to raise an empire that will rival Heaven.
Mulciber (MUHL-sih-bur), also called Vulcan, Mammon’s chief engineer and architect. Formerly the planner of many of Heaven’s buildings, he is now architect of Pandemonium, Satan’s palace in Hell.
Sin, Satan’s daughter, born from his brain without a mother. She is the loathsome keeper of Hell’s gates, through which she lets Satan pass to attack the world. She and her grisly son Death follow Satan to Earth to prey on humankind.
Death, the son of Sin and Satan by their incestuous union. He ravishes Sin and begets a horde of hellhounds on her. His voraciousness is so great that he would devour his own mother, except for the fear that her death would involve his own destruction. His fierce reaction to Satan is mollified by the latter’s offer of hosts of men and beasts for him to devour if Satan’s assault on Earth succeeds.
God the Father
God the Father, an all-knowing and all-powerful being who foresees Satan’s activities and humanity’s fall but extends to humans His grace and brings forth good from evil.
Messiah, the only son of God. He is first granted by His Father the overthrow of Satan and his legions in the War in Heaven, then granted His wish to sacrifice Himself to redeem humanity.
Michael, the warrior angel. Chief of the angelic forces in the War in Heaven, he is a worthy opponent of Satan. He is God’s messenger to Adam and Eve to tell them of their banishment from Paradise and their coming death; however, he is allowed by God’s grace to foretell to Adam the future of the human race and the redemption to come.
Abdiel (AB-dee-ehl), an angelic servant of God. Alone among Lucifer’s angel hordes, he remains steadfast and is rewarded by God’s own praise and the favor of striking the first blow against Satan in the war against the rebel angels. Obviously one of the poet’s favorite creations in Paradise Lost, he is perhaps an idealized version of the poet himself.
Raphael (RAF-ee-ehl), God’s messenger to Adam to warn him of Satan’s presence in Paradise. Gracious and friendly, he still is capable of severe judgment and warns Adam particularly against unreasonable and passionate adoration of Eve.
Gabriel (GAY-bree-ehl), the chief of the angelic guards in Paradise. He is a major leader in the War in Heaven against the evil angels.
Uriel (YEWR-ee-ehl), the regent of the Sun. Even though he is an angel, he is incapable of seeing through the mask of a hypocrite and fails to recognize Satan in his disguise as a lesser angel. He directs the evil spirit to Paradise but sees his actions in Paradise and hastily warns Gabriel that an evil spirit has gained entrance there.
Ithuriel (ih-THEW-ree-ehl), and
Zephon (ZEE-fon), angel guards in Paradise.