Paradise Lost Questions and Answers
by John Milton

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How is the human condition reflected in Paradise Lost by Milton?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The human condition in Paradise Lost is presented by Milton in both its prelapsarian and postlapsarian dimensions, that is to say before and after the Fall. Prior to the Fall, Adam and Eve are innocent and pure, wholly free from the taint of sin. Indeed, the whole notion of sin means nothing in such a paradise as the Garden of Eden. But all that changes after Satan, in the guise of a serpent, persuades Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. This unfortunate episode indicates that although human nature before the Fall was free from sin, the capacity to sin was still there nonetheless. We see this, for example, when Adam decides to follow Eve in eating the forbidden fruit. He hasn't been tempted by the serpent, but something inside him makes him want to join with Eve in her fateful act of disobedience.

Milton's explanation for Adam's actions is entirely in keeping with reformed theology, with its significant debt to the thought of St. Augustine. God has given Adam and Eve, as with all humans,...

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