Paradise Short Summary and Character List
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Character List And Short Summary

Satan: Called Lucifer in heaven before the his disobediance, Satan is one of God's favorite angels until his pride gets in the way and he turns away from God. Satan brings many of heaven's angels with him, however, and reigns as king in hell. He continues an eternal battle with God and goodness for the souls of human beings. Satan, at first, is an angel with a single fault, pride, but throughout the story he becomes physically and morally more and more corrupt.

God: The Absolute, ruler of heaven, creator of earth and all of creation. God is all seeing, though he seems to pay less attention to things further away from his light. He is surrounded by angels who praise him and whom he loves but, when Satan falls and brings many of heaven's population with him, he decides to create a new creature, human, and to create for him a beautiful universe in the hopes that someday humans will join him in heaven. God has a sense of humor, and laughs at the follies of Satan and seems to be a firm and just ruler.

Son of God: God's begotten Son, later to become fully human in the form of Jesus, the Christ. God's Son will continually beat down Satan, first in the three day battle in heaven, then, as Jesus, when he sacrifices himself for the salvation of man. The Son of God is more sympathetic to the plight of mankind and often advocates on behalf of him in front of God.

Holy Spirit: Third of the God/Son Trinity. Although the Holy Spirit does not play a large part in the narrative (leading some critics to think that Milton did not even believe in the Trinity), he is continually referred to as Milton's inspirational "muse" in the writing of the epic. The Holy Spirit is, in fact, the creature through whom the Old and New Testament were written according to Christians, therefore he is the best vehicle from which Milton can draw the truth.

Sin: Daughter of Satan born when Satan first disobeyed God. Satan later rapes Sin and they have Death. The three form the unholy trinity in contrast to God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Sin is sent to hell with Satan and stands guard at hell's gates. She is a horrible looking thing, half serpent, half woman, with hellhounds circling her. She will invade earth and mankind after Satan causes Adam and Eve to fall.

Death: Spawn of Satan and Satan's daughter Sin. He is a dark, gigantic form who guards the gates of hell with Sin. He, too, will reign on earth after Satan causes the Fall. Death, however, will plague not only men and women, but all living creatures on earth down to the smallest plant. Death, as a terminal end, will be defeated when God sends his Son Jesus Christ to earth.

Adam: First created man, father of all mankind. Adam is created a just and ordered creature, living in joy, praising God. Lonely, Adam will ask for a companion and will thereafter feel deep and uncontrollable, though ordered, love for her, named Eve. This love will ultimately get Adam in trouble, as he decides to disobey God rather than leave her. Adam has free will and, by the end of the poem, also has the knowledge of good and evil.

Eve: First created woman, mother of all makind. Eve is rather a fickle and vain woman, easily flattered by Adam and Satan. Her weakness becomes her downfall, as her vanity drives her to disobey God. She loves Adam as well, though the implicaiton is that she loves herself much more.

Raphael: Gentle archangel sent to befriend and warn Adam of the dangers in the Garden. Raphael is traditionally seen as a friendly and sociable angel and, in fact, sits down to eat and gab with Adam for most of an afternoon. Raphael is a gentle guide and appears as a luminous, soft being.

Michael: General in God's army. In contrast to Raphael, Michael is a firm, military type of angel. He is more of an instructor and a punisher than he is a friend and a guide,. He and Gabriel are sent to battle Satan's forces in the heavenly war, and he is sent to evict Adam and Eve from Paradise.

Gabriel: Another archangel who is a general in God's army. He, too, was sent to lead God's forces into battle against Satan and it is he who, with a squadron of angel soldiers, finds Satan in the Garden of Eden the first time.

Abdiel: The only angel who stands up to Satan and his thousands of minions when Satan first suggests rebellion. He is praised as being more courageous than even those who fight in God's army because he stood up in the middle of evil and used words to battle it.

Beelzebub: Lord of the Flies, one of the Fallen Angels and Satan's second in command. Beelzebub is the name of one of the Syrian gods mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. He is the first with whom Satan confers when contemplating rebellion and he is the first Satan sees when they are in hell. Beelzebub relies totally on Satan for what he thinks and does. Later, Satan uses Beelzebub as a plant to get hell's council of fallen angels to do what he wants them to do.

Moloch: another fallen angel, one of the generals of Satan's army. Moloch is an authoritarian military angel, who would rather fight and lose battles than be complacent and passive. Victory over God is less important to Moloch than revenge against him.

Belial: a complacent, passive fallen angel. Belial doesn't want to fight. He represents a part of all the fallen angels that secretly wishes God would take them all back.

Mammon: another fallen angel. Mammon thinks that the fallen angels should try to build their own kingdom and make their life as bearable as possible in hell. He is the ultimate compromiser, and, though his compromise is illogical and will not work, the crowd loves him.


Short Summary

Milton's epic poem opens on the fiery lake of hell, where Satan and his army of fallen angels find themselves chained. Satan and his leutenant Beelzebub get up from the lake and yell to the others to rise and join them. Music plays and banners fly as the army of rebel angels comes to attention, tormented and defeated but faithful to their general. They create a great and terrible temple, perched on a volcano top, and Satan calls a council there to decide on their course of action.

The fallen angels give various suggestions. Finally, Beelzebub suggests that they take the battle to a new battlefield, a place called earth where, it is rumoured, God has created a new being called man. Man is not as powerful as the angels, but he is God's chosen favorite among his creations. Beelzebub suggests that they seek revenge against God by seducing man to their corrupted side. Satan volunteers to explore this new place himself and find out more about man so that he may corrupt him. His fallen army unanimously agrees by banging on their swords.

Satan takes off to the gates of hell, guarded by his daughter, Sin, and their horrible son, Death. Sin agrees to open the gates for her creator (and rapist), knowing that she will follow him and reign with him in whatever kingdom he conquers. Satan then travels through chaos, and finally arrives at earth, connected to heaven by a golden chain.

God witnesses all of this and points out Satan's journey to his Son. God tells his Son that, indeed, Satan will corrupt God's favorite creation, man. His Son offers to die a mortal death to bring man back into the grace and light of God. God agrees and tells how his Son will be born to a virgin. God then makes his Son the king of man, son of both man and God.

Meanwhile, Satan disguises himself as a handsome cherub in order to get by the angel Uriel who is guarding earth. Uriel is impressed that an angel would come all the way from heaven to witness God's creation, and points the Garden of Eden out to Satan. Satan makes his way into the Garden and is in awe at the beauty of Eden and of the handsome couple of Adam and Eve. For a moment, he deeply regrets his fall from grace. This feeling soon turns, however, to hatred.

Uriel, however, has realized that he has been fooled by Satan and tells the angel Gabriel as much. Gabriel finds Satan in the Garden and sends him away.

God, seeing how things are going, sends Raphael to warn Adam and Eve about Satan. Raphael goes down to the Garden and is invited for dinner by Adam and Eve. While there, he narrates how Satan came to fall and the subsequent battle that was held in heaven. Satan first sin was pride, when he took issue with the fact that he had to bow down to the Son. Satan was one of the top angels in heaven and did not understand why he should bow. Satan called a council and convinced many of the angels who were beneath him to join in fighting God.

A tremendous, cosmic three-day battle ensued between Satan's forces and God's forces. On the first day, Satan's forces were beaten back by the army led by the archangels Michael and Gabriel. On the second day, Satan seemed to gain ground by constructing artillery, literally cannons, and turning them against the good forces. On the third day, however, the Son faced Satan's army alone and they quickly retreat, falling through a hole in heaven's fabric and cascading down to hell.

This is the reason, Raphael explains, that God created man: to replace the empty space that the fallen angels have left in heaven. Raphael then tells of how God created man and all the universe in seven days. Adam himself remembers the moment he was created and, as well, how he came to ask God for a companion, Eve. Raphael leaves.

The next morning, Eve insists on working separately from Adam. Satan, in the form of serpent, finds her working alone and starts to flatter her. Eve asks where he learned to speak, and Satan shows her the Tree of Knowledge. Although Eve knows that this was the one tree God had forbidden that they eat from, she is told by Satan that this is only because God knows she will become a goddess herself. Eve eats the fruit and then decides to share it with Adam.

Adam, clearly, is upset that Eve disobeyed God, but he cannot imagine a life without her so he eats the apple as well. They both, then, satiate their new-born lust in the bushes and wake up ashamed, knowing now the difference from good and evil (and, therefore, being able to choose evil). They spend the afternoon blaming each other for their fall.

God sends the Son down to judge the two disobediant creatures. The Son condemns Eve, and all of womankind, to painful childbirths and submission to her husband. He condemns Adam to a life of a painful battle with nature and hard work at getting food from the ground. He condemns the serpent to always crawl on the ground on its belly, always at the heel of Eve's sons.

Satan, in the meantime, returns to hell victorious. On the way, he meets Sin and Death, who have built a bridge from hell to earth, to mankind, whom they will now reign over. When Satan arrives in hell, however, he finds his fallen compatriots not cheering as he had wished, but hissing. The reason behind the horrible hissing soon becomes clear: all of the fallen angels are being transformed into ugly monsters and terrible reptiles. Even Satan finds himself turning into a horrible snake.

Adam and Eve, after bitterly blaming each other, finally decide to turn to God and ask for forgiveness. God hears them and agrees with his Son that he will not lose mankind completely to Sin, Death and Satan. Instead, he will send his son as a man to earth to sacrifice himself and, in so doing, conquer the evil trinity.

Michael is sent by God to escort Adam and Eve out of the Garden. Before he does, however, he tells Adam what will become of mankind unitl the Son comes down to earth. The history of mankind (actually the history of the Jewish people as narrated in the Hebrew Bible) will be a series of falls from grace and acceptance back by God, from Noah and the Flood to the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people.

Adam is thankful that the Son will come down and right what he and Eve have done wrong. He holds Eve's hand as they are escorted out of the Garden.