Introducing the Poem
“The Angel ended, and in Adams Eare
So Charming left his voice, that he a while
Thought him still speaking, still stood fixt to hear;
Then as new wak’t thus gratefully repli’d.”
Continuing the conversation and discussion between Adam and Raphael, the eighth book of Paradise Lost by Milton discusses the significance of knowledge possessed by Man which God has not bestowed upon His other creatures.
The poem highlights the issues regarding the movement of Earth, the knowledge given to Adam and the creation of Eve as his intimate companion; thus, achieving a very important status among the books in Paradise Lost Series.
Critical Summary of Paradise Lost Book 8
The eighth book opens with the discussion of Raphael and Adam about the motion of stars, planets, and Earth where the angel informs Adam that Earth revolves around Sun and also around its own axis changing the days and seasons.
Their conversation moves toward Adam’s creation who tells Raphael that when he awakes in Eden he realizes that he can walk, jump and swim. He also remembers the name of the animals that God has told him along with his foreboding of staying away from the Tree of Knowledge.
Alone in Heaven, Adam yearns for a companion like him and so God creates Eve to accompany him. Adam expresses his immense love for Eve to which Raphael responds that Adam should avoid carnal desires and his love must be pure and pious transcending the physical domains of Eve’s body.
Raphael also informs Adams that he should remain satisfied with which God tells him and never search the answers to those queries that God has kept hidden from him about His creation. The book reaches its denouement when the angel Raphael once again warns Adam about the evil plans of Satan asking him to stay away from the vicious fallen angel.
Raphael’s attempt to forbid Adam from asking too many questions about God and His creation reveals to the readers that God is the supreme being and humans, being the creation of God, should remain satisfied with God’s will and His bestowed knowledge in all circumstances instead of asking for more and disbelieving their creator in the process. Moreover, Raphael’s warning to Adam about Satan depicts the evil nature of the lord of Hell forcing men to avoid his evil temptations at all costs.
“Accuse not Nature, she hath don her part;
Do thou but thine, and be not diffident
Of Wisdom, she deserts thee not, if thou
Dismiss not her, when most thou needst her nigh,
By attributing overmuch to things
Less excellent, as thou thy self perceav’st.
For what admir’st thou, what transports thee so,
An outside? fair no doubt, and worthy well
Thy cherishing, thy honouring, and thy love,
Not thy subjection: weigh with her thy self;”
The conversation between Adam and Raphael regarding Satan and his evil designs to tempt humanity to commit sin foreshadows the fact that Satan is going to strike back by tempting Adam and Eve to eat the Forbidden Fruit in the coming books. The employment of foreshadowing technique by Milton shows his expertise in pinning down a good piece of literature.
“Thy Judgment to do aught, which else free Will
Would not admit; thine and of all thy Sons
The weal or woe in thee is plac’t; beware.
I in thy persevering shall rejoyce,
And all the Blest: stand fast; to stand or fall”
Style and Language
Milton has composed Paradise Lost in a lofty manner and grand style enhancing the gravity of issue manifold. Furthermore, the bombastic language used by the poet persuades the readers to read the poem until the end without stopping.
Conclusion and Discussion
Milton’s Paradise Lost is one of the most popular and highly acclaimed poems of its times due to its grandiose theme of Man’s Fall and Satan’s rebellion, its stylised diction accompanied with similes, metaphors and allusions and its somber and serious tone. It is the reason that despite written in medieval times, the poem still ranks as one of the great poems by Milton read and praised by the readers across the globe.
“So saying, he arose; whom Adam thus
Follow’d with benediction. Since to part,
Go heavenly Guest, Ethereal Messenger,
Sent from whose sovran goodness I adore.
Gentle to me and affable hath been
Thy condescension, and shall be honour’d ever
With grateful Memorie: thou to mankind
Be good and friendly still, and oft return.”