Man and Nature after the Fall in John Milton's Paradise Lost

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Man and Nature after the Fall in Paradise Lost

In Paradise Lost, the consequences of the fall and the change in relations between man and nature can best be discussed when we look at Milton's pre-fall descriptions of Eden and its inhabitants. Believing that fallen humans could never fully understand what life was like in Eden and the relationships purely innocent beings shared, Milton begins his depiction of Paradise and Adam and Eve through the fallen eyes of Satan:

So little knows

Any, but God alone, to value right

The good before him, but perverts best things

To worse abuse, or to thir meanest use.

Beneath him with new wonder now he views

To all delight of human sense expos'd

In narrow room Nature's whole wealth, yea more,

A Heaven on Earth: for blissful Paradise

Of God the Garden was, by him in the East

Of Eden planted... (IV, 201-210)

Milton presents a symbolic landscape, a garden that certainly was created by a divine power. Eden is fertile, and"All Trees of noblest kind for sight, smell taste" (IV, 217) grow in abundance blooming with fruit. There are, mountains, hills, groves, a river, and other earthly delights. Adam and Eve live in this paradise and their job is to tend to the garden: "They sat them down, and after no more toil/ Of thir sweet Gard'ning labor then suffic'd" (IV, 27-28).

Although Eden works harmoniously with Adam and Eve, allowing them to partake of its abundance, it also lives and thrives on its own. Eden has a mind and is a living being, it is excessive and therefore dangerous because it has the potential to choke itself, to smother everything in its path. When Milton first describes Adam and Eve, they are one with the Garden...

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...strust and breach

Disloyal on the part of Man, revolt,

And disobedience: on the part of Heav'n

Now alienated, distance and distaste... (PL. IX, 1-9)

Works Cited and Consulted:

Elledge, Scott, ed. Paradise Lost: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Sources, Criticism. New York: Norton, 1975.

Fox, Robert C. "The Allegory of Sin and Death in Paradise Lost." Modern Language Quarterly 24 (1963): 354-64.

Lewis, C. S. A Preface to Paradise Lost. Rpt. New York: Oxford UP, 1979.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. In John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose. Ed. Merritt Y. Hughes. Indianapolis: 1980.

O'Keeffe, Timothy J. "An Analogue to Milton's 'Sin' and More on the Tradition." Milton Quarterly 5 (1971): 74-77.

Patrick, John M. "Milton, Phineas Fletcher, Spenser, and Ovid--Sin at Hell's Gates." Notes and Queries Sept. 1956: 384-86.
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