Samuel Johnson wrote "A Study of Milton's 'Paradise Lost,'" in which he praises Milton's as a work of genius, as it unites "pleasure with truth" and "the probable with the marvelous" in its account of the creation, fall, and redemption of human beings. Johnson writes that Milton has "peculiar power to astonish." Johnson also believes that the poem has integrity, as Aristotle defined it, with a beginning, middle, and end. When discussing the virtue of Milton's work, Johnson finds "sanctity of thought and purity of manners, except when the train of the narration requires the introduction of the rebellious spirits." Johnson believes that Milton's portrayal of Adam and Eve shows the proper sentiment about their fall from God's grace.
Johnson's criticism of the poem is that "it comprises neither human actions nor human manners." In other words, the reader does not find Adam and Eve relatable humans. As Johnson writes, "The want of human interest is always felt." Johnson also finds fault with Milton's giving the spirits in the poem, such as Satan, physical form. For example, when Satan appears before Gabriel, he is carrying a spear and shield. In addition, Satan hears reports that Adam and Eve are in heaven before he is expelled, meaning that they share heaven for some period of time. For these reasons, including the lack of human actions and manners surrounding Adam and Eve, Johnson feels that reading Paradise Lost is "a duty rather than a pleasure." He finds the work the creation of a genius but a tedious creation in some ways.