Paradise Lost, Book 10

1104 lines. This book shows the immediate aftereffects of the first sin. The punishment is brought to the couple, Satan returns to hell to announce his victory, and Sin and Death make their way to earth.

The act became quickly known in heaven, by God immediately since he was watching the whole thing happen, by angels when the guardians of Eve ascended and reported (lines 1–33).

The Father speaks (lines 34–62), saying that he’s about to carry out the penalty, death, and he’s sending the Son to do so.

The Son speaks (lines 68–84), saying he’ll get it done.

The Son goes down to Paradise at the cool of the day (lines 85–102).

The Son calls to the humans (lines 103–8).

The couple appear (lines 109–15), shame-faced.

Adam answers that he was afraid and naked (lines 116–17).

The Son asks why he was afraid and how he knew he was naked (lines 119–23).

Adam admits what he had done, throws Eve under the bus (lines 124–43).

The Son replies (lines 144–56), saying Adam should have known better, he was the ruler between the pair, “whose perfection far excelled / Hers in all real dignity” (lines 150–51).

The Son asks Eve what she had done (lines 157–58).

Eve makes her simple statement, blaming the serpent (line 162).

The snake can’t speak to blame Satan, so he receives judgment (despite line 84), though the judgment will eventually fall on Satan (lines 163–74).

The Son curses the snake (lines 175–81), basically quoting Scripture.

The narrator interprets (lines 182–92), saying the fulfillment is in Luke 10:18 and Eph 4:8 (= Psa 68:18). Interestingly, Milton connects Satan’s title “prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2; cf. line 185) with Satan’s falling from heaven = air (Luke 10:18) and Jesus’ triumph leading captives to heaven through the air, Satan’s former territory. See also 12.151–55.

The Son speaks to Eve (line 193–96), basically quoting Scripture.

The Son speaks to Adam (lines 197–208), basically quoting Scripture.

So, did they die?

So judged he man, both judge and saviour sent,
And the instant stroke of death denounced that day
Removed far off.

lines 209–11

The Son makes clothes for the couple, then reassumes his place beside the Father in heaven (lines 211–28).

Now at the gates of hell, Sin speaks to Death (lines 229–63), advising that they travel to the new world, where Satan has surely found success. Sin finds herself drawn thither.

Methinks I feel new strength within me rise,
Wings growing, and dominion given me large
Beyond this deep.

lines 243–45

Death responds (lines 264–71), saying he likes the idea, and he’s ready to eat.

Sin and death build a bridge between hell and our world (lines 272–353).

a bridge
Of length prodigious joining to the wall
Immovable of this now fenceless world
Forfeit to Death; from hence a passage broad,
Smooth, easy, inoffensive down to hell.

lines 301–5

They also meet Satan on his way away from earth. He had transformed from the snake into the appearance of a good angel, and hid in the garden to observe what would happen. He say Eve give the fruit to Adam.

but when he saw descend
The Son of God to judge them terrified
He fled


Then he returned to the garden later and heard his doom from the couple’s lamenting (which Milton has not yet described; he must be talking about Adam’s speech at lines 1030ff., in which Adam recalls the curse on the snake). A little bit later Satan tells us what he has learned here.

Thence gathered his own doom, which understood
No instant, but of future time.

lines 344–45

Satan admired the bridge made by his offspring.

Sin speaks to Satan (lines 354–82), saying that she can tell he’s been successful, and Satan will reign as king in this new world.

Satan replies (lines 383–409), saying he’s proud of them. He also says he’s proud of his name, Satan, “Antagonist of heaven’s almighty king” (line 387). (His other name, Lucifer, is used a bit later, line 425.) He’s going to hell to announce his success, and he gives earth to Sin and Death.

Satan went to hell and sat on his throne (lines 410–59).

Satan addresses his subjects (lines 460–503), announcing his success.

True is, me also he hath judged, or rather
Me not, but the brute serpent in whose shape
Man I deceived: that which to me belongs,
Is enmity, which he will put between
Me and mankind; I am to bruise his heel;
His seed, when is not set, shall bruise my head:
A world who would not purchase with a bruise,
Or much more grievous pain?

lines 494–501

Expecting applause, he hears hisses (lines 504–84). All of them turn into snakes.

down he fell
a monstrous serpent on his belly prone,
Reluctant, but in vain, a greater power
Now ruled him, punished in the shape he sinned
According to his doom.

lines 513–17

Satan actually turns into some sort of dragon (lines 528–32). A grove of trees sprang up, like the trees of Paradise, laden with fruit. The snakes ate the fruit, which turned into ash in their mouths. Then the snakes resumed their previous forms, but some say each year they turn back into snakes for a way as a humiliation for tempting people.

Sin and Death arrive in Paradise (lines 585–90).

Sin speaks to Death (lines 591–95): What do you think about this place?

Death replies (lines 596–601): It’s fine, but I want to eat.

Sin speaks (lines 602–9): Start on the fruit and animals, and I’ll deliver people to you.

The Father speaks in heaven (lines 616–40), saying that Sin and Death are ruining his new world, but they don’t realize that it’s part of the Father’s plan.

Changes to earth (lines 641–719), the sun and heavenly bodies and the winds make things now more unpleasant on earth. The animals start to eat one another.

Adam speaks to himself (lines 720–843), lamenting. Here Adam reflects on death, wondering what all it entails, wondering why he hasn’t suffered it yet, or whether it has already started.

Adam again (lines 854–62), again wondering why death had not come.

Adam speaks to Eve (lines 867–908), lamenting that she was ever created, saying some rather misogynist things, looking forward to all the problems men will have with women.

Eve speaks to Adam (lines 914–36), saying she’s sorry, asking for reconciliation.

Adam accepts her back (lines 947–65). Here he says that he thinks death will be slow.

Eve speaks (lines 966–1006), suggesting that they kill themselves before breeding a race of people who can only be miserable.

Adam speaks to Eve (lines 1013–96), says that Eve doesn’t really mean that, and in any case there might be unintended consequences to taking their own life. But Adam suggests they reflect on a strange feature of God’s curse of the snake, that Eve’s offspring will bruise the snake’s head. (He’s thinking about this curse also the next day, 11.154–58.) Adam guesses that Satan is really meant, and that a Savior will be born from Eve who will crush Satan’s head, which would be sweet revenge. So they better not forbear having children, because they definitely want this revenge against Satan, who had probably inhabited the snake in tempting Eve (Adam guesses). Adam further says that God is merciful, has been merciful to them already, since they expected immediate death, but the curses were much more mild. And he made us clothes. Adam counsels that they pray for forgiveness and mercy. They do so.

The book ends with their prayer.

So spake our father penitent, nor Eve
Felt less remorse: they forthwith to the place
Repairing where he judged them prostrate fell
Before him reverent, and both confessed
Humbly their faults, and pardon begged, with tears
Watering the ground, and with their sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow unfeigned, and humiliation meek.

lines 1097–1104

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