Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Introduction to "Paradise Lost"

Lines 1-26: An invocation of the Heavenly Muse and the holy Spirit to aid him in this, his great work of singing about man's disobedience, and the consequent loss of Paradise.

Lines 28-83: The prime cause of man's fall, the temptation of Satan in the form of a serpent. Satan, revolting against God, and drawing to his side many legions of angels, was defeated and driven out by God, and cast into hell. There he is discovered, when the action of the poem begins, surrounded by fallen angels, among whom Beelzebub, next to him in power is conspicuous.
Lines 84-124: Satan's speech to Beelzebub. Asserting his own indomitable will and determination to resist, he urges his companion in rebellion to persevere likewise.
Lines 125-156: Beelzebub's answer. He acknowledge Satan's courage, whilst lamenting their fall more bitterly than Satan. But he urges the hopelessness of continuing the context against the Almighty, for the very fact that the force of angel is unfailing, may be meant to aggravate the bitterness of their servitude.
Lines 157-191: Satan's reply. Though servitude may be their portion, yet they must hope, and study in that servitude to frustrate the intention of their Master. He points out that the thunder and lightning, the artillery of heaven, have ceased, and urges him to employ this respite to collect their scattered forces and consult for the future.
Lines 192-241: A description of Satan as he lies stretched out on the fiery flood; his-size is illustrated by comparisons. He is allowed by Providence to rise and wing his way to land, but the land burns no less than the sea.
Lines 242-270: Satan's speech Lines 242-264 is a soliloquy, the rest is addressed to Beelzebub. He first laments the change from heaven to hell, then consoles himself with the thought that the mind and not the place makes for happiness or misery. Hell at least is his own, here he can reign. He then exhorts Beelzebub to rally the rest.
Lines 271-282: Beelzebub's answer. It needs but Satan's voice to raise them, still prostrate as they were lately.
Lines 283-330: Satan is described as he appeared making for the shore. That gained, he surveys his host lying scattered and amazed on the flood. With bitter irony he bids them arise.
Lines 331-375: The rebel angels rise obedient to his call as numerous as locusts or barbarian hordes. In heaven they were princes, but they had lost their heavenly names, and not yet got their name among men.
Lines 376-521: A catalogue of the chief leaders, being an enumeration of the principal Syrian and Arabian deities, to which is added a general preference to the gods of Greece.
Lines 522-621: Satan encourages his defeated hosts, and bids Azaziel raise his standard. At the signal the army falls in battle array, and marches to the sound of martial music. The appearance of Satan, still glorious, though fallen, is compared to the sun seen through a mist or eclipse. Touched by remorse at the sight of his comrades, he essays to address them, but is long hindered by tears.
Lines 622-662: Satan's speech. The battle, though fatal in its issue, was not inglorious. Who could have foreseen the defeat of such forces, who would not predict that they should recover their loss? The reason of their defeat was their ignorance of the strength of their foe. Now they know their strength and they can meet it by fraud. It is reported that a new world is to be created. This may give them a starting for their enterprise. In any case they determine to presevere in war.
Lines 663-751: The effect of Satan's words. A group, under the direction of Mammon, proceeds to built a palace to serve as a council-hall; some quarry the hill for gold, others melt the ore. The structure rises as if by magic. Its magnificence is illustrated by comparison with the monuments of men's hands.
Lines 752-798: The council is summoned. The thronging councillors are compared to bees swarming. As they enter they contract in size till they are no bigger than pygmies or fairies. The seraphim and cherubium alone who are seated by themselves retain their proper dimensions.
The first book of Paradise Lost opens with an invocating to the Muse, then goes on to describe the cause of man's fall: the temptation of Satan in the form of a Serpent and the consequent fall of man. Satan's revolt against God; his banishment to Hell with his supporters; Satan's efforts to rouse the spirit of his supporters; the catalogue of the chief leaders. The effect of Satan's words and the building of the palace of Pandemonium to serve as a council hall and finally the summoning of the council and consequently the reduction in the size of the fallen angels form the substance of the first book.
Book I opens with a statement of the subject, the Fall of Man, and a noble invocation for light and divine guidance. Then begins the account of Satan and the rebel angels, their banishment from heaven, and their plot to oppose the design of the Almighty by dragging down his children, our first parents from their state of innocence. The books closes with a description of the land of fire and endless pain where the fallen spirits abide, and the erection of Pandemonium, the palace of Satan.
Book II is a description of the council of evil spirits, of Satan's consenting to tempt Adam and Eve and his journey to the gates of hell, which are guarded by Sin and Death.
Book III transports us to heaven again. God, foreseeing the Fall, sends Raphael to warn Adam and Eve, so that this disobedience shall be upon their own heads. Then the Son offers himself as a sacrifice to take away the sin of the coming disobedience of man. At the end of this book Satan appears in a different scene, meets Uriel, the Angel of the Sun, inquires from him the way of earth and takes his journey thither disguised as an angel of light.
Book IV shows us Paradise and the innocent state of man. An angel guard is set over Eden, and Satan is arrested while tempting Eve in a dream, but is curiously allowed to go free again.
Book V shows Eve relating her dream to Adam, and then the morning prayer and the daily employment of our first parents. Raphael visits them, is entertained by a banquet (which Eve propose in order to show him that all God's gifts are not kept in heaven), and tells them of the revolt of the fallen spirits.
Book VI: His story is continued in Book VI.
Book VII: We read the story of the creation of the world as Raphael tells it to Adam and Eve.
Book VIII: Adam tells Raphael the story of his own life and of his meeting with Eve.
Book IX is the story of the temptation by Satan, following the account in Genesis.
Book X records the divine judgement upon Adam and Eve; shows the construction by Sin and Death of a highway through chaos to the Earth, and Satan's return to Pandemonium. Adam and Eve repent their disobedience and Satan and his angels are turned into serpents.
Book XI: The Almighty accepts Adam's repentance, but condemns him to be banished from Paradise, and the archangel Michael is sent to execute the sentence. At the end of the book, after Eve's feminine grief at the loss of Paradise, Michael begins a prophetic vision of the destiny of man.
Book XII continues Michael's vision. Adam and Eve are comforted by hearing of the future redemption of their race. The poem ends as they wander forth out of Paradise and the door closes behind them.

People who read this post also read :


Post a Comment

Please leave your comments!