Paradise Lost Book 10 Summary and Analysis
by John Milton

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Book 10 Summary and Analysis

Since nothing escapes the eye of the omniscent God, it is known in Heaven that the Serpent has perverted Eve and she has, in turn, tempted Adam to taste the “fatal fruit.” God has not hindered Satan from tempting Adam and Eve, however. In his wisdom and justice, God has armed them with free will, but they have chosen to disobey him and have, therefore, deserved to fall.

The guardian angels from Paradise arrive in Heaven with the sad news. They are greeted by multitudes of angels who are displeased but also show pity for Adam and Eve. God’s voice appears from a cloud amidst the thunder, and the angels gather to listen. God calms the angels’ fears and tells the guards of Paradise that what has taken place could not have been prevented. He has known all along that Satan would prevail in his attempt to seduce Man and cause him to fall. Man was governed by his own free will, however, and sentence must now be passed on his transgression. Though death has already been determined, it has not yet been inflicted. God appoints the Son as Mediator to administer justice as well as mercy to Adam and Eve. The Son is considered to be Man’s friend since he has already volunteered to give himself as a ransom for Man’s sin.

The Son arrives on Earth in the cool of the evening. When Adam and Eve hear him walking in the garden, they hide in the thickest part of the forest. The Son calls Adam’s name with a loud voice, and they both appear with guilty looks. Adam tells the Son he was afraid of him and hid himself because he was naked. The Son asks whether he has eaten the forbidden fruit and, therefore, realizes he is naked. Adam deliberates, wondering whether to take all the blame himself and protect Eve by concealing her guilt or whether to tell the truth. He finally decides to tell the Son that Eve offered him the fruit and he ate, but the Son rebukes him, asking him whether Eve is his God whom he must obey. He tells Adam he should love Eve but not be held in subjection to her. She was not meant to rule, the Son says, since that is Adam’s part by nature.

The Son then asks Eve what she has done, and she replies that the Serpent beguiled her. Promptly passing judgment on the Serpent, the Son dooms him to grovel on his belly and eat dust for the rest of his days. The Son also proclaims that hatred will exist between Eve’s descendants and the Serpent’s offspring. Turning to Eve, he decrees the pain of childbirth and the submission to her husband’s will as punishment for her sin. He declares that Adam shall earn his bread by the sweat of his brow until he returns to the ground that God used for his creation.

After Adam and Eve have been judged, the Son tells them that their deaths will be far in the future. Feeling pity for them, he dresses them with the “skins of beasts” that have either been killed or have shed their skins. He also clothes their “inward nakedness” with his “robe of righteousness” before he ascends into Heaven.

Meanwhile, Sin becomes restless as a mysterious force is drawing her to “things of like kind.” She reveals her plan to her son, Death, to build a highway from the gates of Hell to Earth where Satan, their father, now resides. Death agrees to do his equal share as he sniffs the air for the smell of mortal carcasses that he will feed on when he arrives on Earth. “Following the track/ Of Satan,” Sin and Death build a broad high-arched bridge across the Abyss. Along the way they meet Satan who is escaping the judgment of the Son of God in Eden. Though he is disguised as a bright angel, they recognize him immediately and greet him with joy. Sin attributes the highway to Satan’s success on Earth and salutes him as the monarch of Hell and all the World. Satan gives Sin and Death his blessing and sends them off to Paradise to “reign in bliss” as he continues his journey on the highway to Hell.

Disguised as a common military angel, Satan arrives in Pandemonium and mounts his throne. He...

(The entire section is 2,785 words.)