Book 4 Summary and Analysis
Adam: first man created by God; forbidden to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in Paradise
Eve: first woman created by God out of Adam’s rib; tempted by the Serpent to eat the forbidden fruit
Gabriel: an angel guarding the gate of Paradise
Uzziel: an angel, who is next to Gabriel in power, guarding Paradise
Ithuriel: an angel appointed by Gabriel to search for Satan in ¬Paradise
Zephon: an angel who helps Ithuriel find Satan and bring him to Gabriel for questioning
Satan has reached the top of Mount Niphates which overlooks Eden. As he anticipates his “bold enterprise” against God and Man, he is suddenly plagued with doubt and despair. Though he has escaped from his physical Hell, he has brought his inner Hell with him, admitting that “I myself am Hell.” Sadly, he looks down at Eden, a pleasant place, and then at Heaven where the sun shines like the radiance of a god who holds dominion over the new world (Eden). Satan blames the sun whose brilliancy reminds him of his own lost glory in Heaven. He confesses it was his pride and ambition that caused him to wage war against Heaven’s King. Acknowledging him as his creator, Satan concedes that God was un¬de¬serving of his rebellious actions. He reflects on God’s goodness and feels that he owed him the praise and thanks that was due to him. Admitting his free will to stand or fall, he realizes he was treated justly. Unable to escape his miserable existence, he cries out for pardon, but only for a moment. He disdains submission to God and dreads the shame he would suffer among the spirits in Hell if he would admit that he could not subdue the Omnipotent. Concluding that “all good to me is lost,” he decides that evil will be his good, and at least he will reign over more than half the world.
Meanwhile, unknown to Satan, Uriel, whose eyes have been following him since he left the sun, suddenly notices his disfigured body showing through his disguise.
Satan moves on to “delicious Paradise” that is surrounded by a high wall with an eastern gate. Above the wall he can see the trees laden with blossoms and fruit. As he approaches, the air becomes purer. Finding no entrance, he leaps over the wall and lands on the ground in Eden. Changing his appearance to a bird, he alights in the Tree of Life that is next to the Tree of Knowledge.
Ingulfed underneath Eden is a river flowing south and rising up as a “fresh fountain” that divides into four main streams to water all of the garden. Eden is a peaceful place filled with flowers, roses without thorns, cool caves, luxurious vines, and waterfalls. Satan sees many kinds of creatures but only two who stand “erect and tall.” Spotting Adam and Eve, he realizes they have been created “God-like erect” in the “image of their glorious Maker.” The naked pair were not created equal. Adam was formed for contemplation and valor, the poet says, and Eve was made for “softness” and “sweet attractive grace.” The earthly pair walk hand in hand until they find a green shady spot bedecked with flowers next to a “fresh fountain” where they eat their supper of fruits as the beasts are frisking around them.
Irritated by Adam and Eve’s idyllic happy life that contrasts sharply with his own, Satan plots his act of guile which will cause them to fall. Though they are not his direct enemies, he will avenge God by corrupting them and, thereby, enlarge his empire in Hell. In an attempt to get a closer look at the human pair, Satan alights from the tree and changes his shape, first to a lion, then to a tiger. When Adam speaks, Satan is all ears. Adam tells Eve that the Power that raised them from the dust must be infinitely good since all he requires of them is to refrain from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Having given the earthly pair the power to rule over all creatures of the Earth, air, and sea, God asks for only one sign of their obedience. Death will be the penalty if they disobey by...
(The entire section is 2,557 words.)