Paradise Lost Book 5 Summary and Analysis
by John Milton

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Book 5 Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Raphael: God’s angel; sent to Adam and Eve to warn them of the sin of disobedience to God

Abdiel: the only follower of Satan who remains faithful to God in the war in Heaven

In the morning, Adam awakes to the sound of birds singing in the trees. He has slept well but is alarmed at the sight of Eve’s disheveled look. Rousing her from a night of fitful sleep, Adam learns that she has had a disturbing dream. Someone, whose voice sounded like Adam’s, had spoken into her ear, she says, asking her to join him during the moonlit hours to enjoy the cool and silent beauty of the night. She rose at Adam’s call but did not see him. Searching for him, she found only the Tree of Knowledge that seemed fairer than it had in the light of day. Gazing at the tree stood a winged creature who vowed that no one would forbid him to taste its fruit. Without hesitation he picked and tasted the fruit as a “damp horror” ran through Eve’s body. The creature held the fruit to her mouth, tempting her to eat and become a goddess. After she smelled the fruit, she was unable to resist. Immediately she began to fly through the air with him, but suddenly he was gone, and she sank down. She is now happy it has only been a dream.

Adam is uneasy about Eve’s dream. He explains that though she was created pure and is, therefore, left untouched by her evil dream, Fancy or imagination often overrules Reason when a person sleeps, producing “wild work” from events of the past. Assuring her that their talk of the previous night has probably caused her dream, Adam is confident that evil “may come and go” into the mind and leave no trace. While awake, he says, she will never be as impetuous as she was in her dream. In spite of his encouragement, a “gentle tear” falls from her eye, but Adam kisses it away as they hurry to their work.

Before they begin their labors, however, they bow in adoration to God. Without ritual, words flow spontaneously from their lips. Glorifying God for his creation, they also praise him for his goodness and divine power. They call on the creatures of the Earth and all the planets and elements to join them in praise for their eternal God. Ending their morning prayer with an appeal for God’s continuous bounty of good, they ask him to disperse any evil that might have been concealed during the night.

As Adam and Eve go about their morning tasks, God looks down upon them from Heaven with pity. He sends Raphael to Earth to caution them about the danger of Satan lurking in the garden and plotting their fall with his deceit and lies. Raphael is also instructed to remind them of their free will to choose between good and evil.

With haste, he leaves Heaven to deliver his urgent message. Admired by all winged creatures, he soars in the shape of a phoenix through the ethereal sky. He alights on the “eastern cliff of Paradise” and changes back to his proper shape, a six-winged seraph.

Spotting Raphael in the distance, Adam calls Eve to the opening of their bower to see the “glorious shape” approaching through the fields of sweet-smelling flowers and “spicy forest.” He asks Eve to make preparations to entertain their guest. She quickly picks the choicest fruits of Paradise and strews the ground with rose petals. Meanwhile, Adam fearlessly approaches Raphael with stately solemnity, bowing with reverence as he comes near. Adam invites Raphael to stay and eat with them; he accepts. Raphael hails Eve as the “Mother of Mankind” whose fruitfulness will fill the world. Their table is the “grassy turf,” and their seats are made of moss. Hesitantly, Adam shares his food with Raphael, fearing that perhaps it would be unsavory to “spiritual natures.” Raphael tells Adam that angels require food and live by the five senses just as humans do. He explains that all forms of life need food and there is no sharp distinction between spirit and matter. Though Heaven’s trees bear fruit and its vines nectar,...

(The entire section is 2,675 words.)