Paradise Lost Book 11 Summary and Analysis
by John Milton

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Book 11 Summary and Analysis

Adam and Eve now stand repentant before God who has sent his prevenient grace down from Heaven to soften their hearts. Their prayers are heard by the Son who intercedes for them, asking for their peaceful reconciliation with God. Though he grants them forgiveness, God will not allow them to remain in Paradise because its “pure immortal elements” will no longer mix with their sinful nature. God has provided Death as Man’s “final remedy” which will be followed by a “second life” for the just who live by faith.

God then calls an assembly of his heavenly angels to inform them of his judgment of mankind. To prevent Adam and Eve from tasting the fruit of the Tree of Life and, thereby, living in their sinful state forever, God decrees that they be removed from the garden. He appoints the archangel Michael to “drive out the sinful pair” but to soften the “sad sentence” and console them by revealing to Adam what the future will hold for them and their descendants. God will “enlighten” Michael as he foretells the future of mankind. Michael should again remind Adam and Eve of God’s covenant to destroy Satan and his evil powers through Eve’s offspring. The east gate of the garden must be closely guarded to keep the foul spirits from entering. Michael prepares to go, taking four Cherubim along to assist him.

Meanwhile, Adam and Eve greet the morning after their night of prayer. With renewed hope, Adam addresses Eve as the “Mother of all Mankind” whose offspring will destroy Satan and his evil powers. With humility Eve replies that she does not deserve such a title. Since she was the one who first brought Death into the world, she should not be honored as the “source of life.” Though they have had a sleepless night, the morning again calls them to their labors. Determined never to leave Adam’s side again, Eve suggests that they live contentedly in their fallen state, enjoying the “pleasant walks of Paradise.” Adam senses a bad omen, however, when the eagle and the lion hunt their prey for the first time.

Adam predicts a “further change” and his fears are not unfounded as a group of angels arrive from Heaven and land on a hill in Paradise. The archangel Michael approaches and Adam goes to meet him, telling Eve to stay behind. He looks more majestic than Raphael, and Adam fears that there will be some new laws imposed on them. Adam bows low as he meets Michael who does not appear in the shape of an angel but is dressed as a kingly young man in military attire.

Michael begins by telling Adam his prayers have been heard, and, though his sentence is death, by God’s grace, he will be given enough time to cover his one sinful act with “many deeds well done.” He has come to remove Adam and Eve from Paradise since God will not permit them to stay any longer. Surprised and heartbroken, Adam stands speechless, but Eve can be heard in the background, lamenting the loss of Paradise which is a blow “worse than Death.” Michael gently tells Eve that she will be going with her husband whom she is obligated to follow. Wherever he goes, she must consider that place as her native soil. Recovering from his shock, Adam humbly thanks Michael for his gentleness in breaking the news of their removal from Eden. He regrets leaving his familiar surroundings, but his biggest loss will be the presence of God. Michael tells him God is omnipresent, and he will be in the valley and the plain just as he has been in Paradise.

Michael puts Eve into a deep sleep as he leads Adam to the highest hill in Eden to inform him about future generations. Removing the film from Adam’s eyes that has been caused by his sin, Michael replaces it with three drops from the well of life. Adam falls into a trance, but Michael lifts him, asking him to observe what he will now show him. Adam is first shown the vision of Cain murdering his brother Abel out of jealousy. Adam is terrified at his first sight of death and cannot understand...

(The entire section is 2,401 words.)