Illustrate by specific textual examples how Milton applied the Bible in Paradise Lost.

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There are literally hundreds of allusions to the Bible peppered throughout John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, particularly to Genesis. Genesis is the first book in the Christian Bible and provides the foundation for Milton’s epic poem and the entire Biblical narrative.

In Genesis, God creates the world and humanity in seven days. He places Adam and Eve, the first humans, in the Garden of Eden. Milton draws the “paradise” in the title of his epic poem from this mythical garden. In the Biblical story, Adam and Eve are given free reign of the garden but receive a single restriction:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Gen. 2:17 KJV)

Adam and Eve are tempted by a Satan in the form of a talking serpent to eat the fruit from the tree so that they can gain the “knowledge of good and evil.” In the end, both Adam and Eve succumb to the wiles of the Devil and are ejected from the Garden of Eden forever, losing their paradise.

Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost presents an alternative perspective on the opening chapters of Genesis and the events leading to the “fall of man.” In Milton’s version, Satan is the protagonist. The narrative chronicles his rebellion against God and his efforts to destroy humanity, the pride of God’s creation. It is important to remember that Genesis provides the big-picture framework that Milton uses in his poem. Although much of the poem is original, Milton draws his characters and plot largely from the Bible.

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