Paradise Lost Questions and Answers
by John Milton

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What imagery is used in Paradise Lost?

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Milton's Paradise Lost is packed with original, vivid, and often symbolic imagery. I have included and explained three such examples below.

Of Man’s First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful
Seat, Sing Heav’nly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen
Seed, In the Beginning how the Heav’ns and Earth
Rose out of Chaos

In this first example, from Book 1, Milton draws upon biblical imagery such as "the fruit of that Forbidden Tree" from which Adam and Eve ate. The fruit from this tree is symbolic of the forbidden knowledge that God denied to mankind, and Milton here indicates that the consequences of this forbidden knowledge will be the focus of his work. In this quotation Milton also alludes to the mountain ("Oreb, or . . . Sinai") upon which God gave the ten commandments to...

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