Compare the relationship among the individual, faith, and society apparent in Paradise Lost and in the Book of Genesis in The Bible.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The importance of both of these works lie in the attempt of the authors to create a text that links together an encompassing view of the individual, faith and society at large. Both texts try to create a metanarrative or a background story to place the reality of man's existence with some form of context. The Book of Genesis does this through telling the story of the creation of man and how they came to be expelled from the Garden of Eden because of original sin. In the same way, Milton seeks to do exactly the same thing, expanding on the original Biblical account and seeking to explain why and how it is that humans find themselves in the position that they do. Note how Milton himself defines the purpose of his epic poem:

That to the height of this great argument

I may assert Eternal Providence,

And justify the ways of God to men.

Milton's poem then is a self-confessed attempt to "justify the ways of God to men," and through writing it he seeks to expand on the original Biblical account to explain why humans live the kind of life that they do, in the kind of world that they inhabit. The expulsion of Adam and Eve of course begins the way of life for humans that ever since the species has experienced, and thus Milton's work, and the original Book of Genesis, connects the individual, faith and society through exploring why the human species is the way it is.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team