Paradise Lost, Book 4 (Part Three) Milton

492 – 504 Adam
and Eve are described in their stance of mutual affection

Every description of Adam and Eve by the narrator is worth paying
attention to. Nearly every description has been the occasion of some
debate – and this passage is no exception. Review these lines (492
– 504) and consider how the narrator presents the stances of the
two characters toward each other. What words do you think require
the closest examination?

505 – 535 Satan
is roused to unrequited desire by the sight of Adam and Eve

Satan has been listening to everything Adam and Eve have said
to each other since Adam’s first words earlier in this book. Don’t
ever forget this. Everything Satan has heard out of the mouths of
Adam and Eve is potentially material for his enterprise. In this
speech, having overheard that Adam and Eve have been forbidden to eat
of the Tree of Knowledge, Satan determines that his purpose must now
be to “excite thir minds / With more desire to know”. You may
find it useful to remember this statement as you learn more about
Adam. A few classes from now, ask yourself whether Adam needs any
more “desire to know” than he already possesses.

536 – 609 Uriel
reports the suspicious activity he sees from the angel he guided down
to earth.

As a good, vigilant angel, Uriel has followed the flight of the “teen
angel” (Satan) he guided down to earth. Spotting the appearance of
this angel changing into the fallen emotions of “ire, envie and
despair,” Uriel sets out now to notify Gabriel (another angel
overseeing earth). Hearing this news, Gabriel resolves to find this
fallen angel by the beginning of the next day (predictably, too late
to stop Satan from entering the bower of Adam and Eve while they
sleep).

610 –
688 Walking back to their bower, Adam and Eve discuss the
purpose of sleep and of night.

Here is another immensely important passage – an exchange between
Adam and Eve as they return to their bower from a day of landscape
gardening. As we have noted, Milton’s purpose in Paradise Lost
is to provide a vision of what life could have been like in an
idyllic Edenic scene for two unfallen beings created in the manner
described in Genesis 2. No detail is too small to attract Milton’s
imagination. Review Adam’s speech (610 – 633). Some of the most
distinctive aspects of Adam’s character can be inferred from this
speech. What stands out to you in this speech as shedding light on
the character of Adam?

Eve’s reply to this speech is famous for its poetic beauty and for
Eve’s opening lines which have occasioned considerable debate and
dispute. What follows these lines is an elaborate hymn of sorts both
to nature and, by implication, to Adam. Review Eve’s speech (634 –
658). How would you describe Eve’s stance toward Adam in this
speech? What light does this speech shed on the nature of the
relationship that has formed between Adam and Eve in the space of
less than 6 full days?

689 – 735 Adam
and Eve arrive at their bower, prepare for bed, and pray to their
Creator.

736 – 775 The
narrator surmises about the love life of Adam and Eve.

This passage – tame to modern readers – was highly adventurous at
the time of publication. Milton speculates about the pleasurable
love life he envisions Adam and Eve enjoying and, in the process,
casts venom on those contemporaries of his who thought that Adam and
Eve could not have had sex before the Fall because sex itself was in
their view a fallen activity.

776 –
1015 Ithuriel and Zephon uncover Satan in the bower and bring
him to Gabriel.

Acting on Uriel’s information, Gabriel sends two angels –
Ithuriel and Zephon – to the bower (home) of Adam and Eve in search
of the presumed fallen angel that earlier deceived Uriel. As they
peer into the bower where Adam and Eve are now asleep, they spot a
forbidden creature (soon to be exposed as Satan) in form “like a
Toad” at the ear of Eve. Touching the toad-like figure with his
spear, Ithuriel transforms Satan into his proper form. The
description by the narrator of what Satan is doing at the ear of Eve
foregrounds our future study of Eve’s dream (which she recounts at
the outset of the next book). Review 799 – 809. The question that
we will address in Book 5 is whether the dream that Eve is
experiencing at this moment is wholly her own (in the sense of
arising “naturally” out of her own unconsciousness), or something
planted in her consciousness by Satan, or some combination of the
two. With that in mind, consider which words in this passage suggest
which of these three possibilities is most likely. Does the passage
shed any light on what Satan thinks about Eve based on what he has
earlier overheard her say? Finally, can we be sure that he has not
already attempted to mess with Adam’s unconscious mind?

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