Detailed Summary Book I Part I:Paradise Lost by John Milton, Paradise Lost Detailed Summary Book I


Though "Paradise Lost", the epic poem, was written to "justify the ways of God to man" yet the poem has several other themes and implications to the human existence and his history which is so eventful that the poem and its lines waver from one aspect and scale of time to the other in order to present a complete picture of human existence and the effort to survive so far. The poem begins with the well know "disobedience" on the part of man and his resultant fall and the way Christ restored man to the blissful seat:

"Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of EDEN, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat"

Then the poet invokes heavenly muse, which knows about Mount Sinai and of all the past prophets, to inspire him to write that great poem:

"I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventrous Song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th' AONIAN Mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime."

The poet clearly mentions his aim to:

"I may assert th' Eternal Providence,
And justifie the wayes of God to men."


The poet begins with the question as to what led to the fall of man :

"say first what cause
Mov'd our Grand Parents in that happy State"

He asks about the role of "infernal Serpent" which is mentioned in the Bible as the real evil and enemy of mankind. He also questions the muse to help him describe in details what evil revolt was attempted in vain by Satan and his partaker angels and was hurled into hell headlong:

"Rais'd impious War in Heav'n and Battel proud
With vain attempt."

The poet then enters into detail of how vast the realm of hell is and for how long Satan was put in hell till he was freed by God Almighty:

Nine times the Space that measures Day and Night
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquisht, rowling in the fiery Gulfe
Confounded though immortal.

Satan had lost all his power of influence and pride of being superior. But his strong will still has something of "Mixt with obdurate pride and steadfast hate". He does not feel guilty of his deeds. The poet describes the acuteness of pain and misery in the realms of hell:

"A Dungeon horrible, on all sides round
As one great Furnace flam'd, yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv'd only to discover sights of woe"

The poet compares the luxuriant places of heaven, where these fall angels once dwelt, with "Floods and Whirlwinds of tempestuous fire" of hell.

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