Paradise Lost

Discuss Milton’s uses of the Garden of Eden.

Eden is at the very centre of all major events in Paradise Lost Book IX, and Milton proves keen to exploit its potency as a setting. The Garden represents both the glory of God’s Creation and the fragility of its existence. Milton juxtaposes Satan’s address to the Earth with Adam and Eve’s praising of it to show how invigorating the expression of God’s love can be. But in doing so, he also lays the foundations for the Fall by exposing Eve’s complacency and unguarded state in paradise.

Milton draws attention to the insatiable beauty of Eden through the eyes of Satan, perhaps the least predictable admirer of God’s Creation. This enhances every compliment Satan pays to the Earth and suggests that Eden’s perfection is impossible to ignore. But Milton highlights how Satan has become so intoxicated by Eden’s apparent flawlessness, that he confuses his theology and describes Earth as a “Terrestrial heaven.” In Genesis, God is said to have constructed the heavens and the Earth simultaneously. Therefore, to claim God created Earth having learned from the mistakes he made in Heaven would be theologically incorrect. Moreover, Satan’s declaration that Earth is a “seat worthier of gods” has no foundations in the Bible. Evans makes the point...

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