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Essay/Term paper: Humanity's fall in "the garden of eden"

Essay, term paper, research paper:  English Composition

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Humanity's Fall In "The Garden of Eden"

The original sin that led to humanity's fall in the Garden of Eden is by
far the worst sin committed by humankind. It is this sin that led to future
sins. This original sin must be emphasized by writers to depict the evil
involved in it. In writing Paradise Lost, John Milton recognizes this fact and
uses a variety of literary techniques to stress the evil in the story over the
good. The techniques used include a series of parallels with the parallel
between good and evil being first and foremost as well, as symmetry to keep the
poem in balance. Paradise Lost is a poem essentially about the origin of sin
and evil, as a result, Milton presents evil in a more coercive manner than good.

Satan and his followers in Paradise Lost are presented as being more
evil than God and his disciples are good. God addresses the Son to be in the
likeness of himself in Book three by saying, "The radiant image of his glory sat,
his only Son."(Bk. 3, 63-64). Although this implies that the Son is a model of
perfection as is God, it does not clarify it by stating it outright. Milton
definitely portrays Satan's evil in Book four by asserting that Satan is hell
and that evil is his good because good has been lost to him. (Bk. 4, lines 75,
108-110). Satan's moral state further decays in Book nine as detailed in a
soliloquy at the beginning of the book by Satan. Satan recognizes his descent
into bestiality after once being in contention with the gods to sit on top of
the hierarchy of angels. He is unhappy with this "foul descent" and in turn
wants to take out his grief on humanity. Despite recognizing that revenge
eventually becomes bitter, Satan wants to make others as miserable as he is. It
is i n destruction that he finds comfort for his ceaseless thoughts. (Bk. 9,
lines 129-130, 163-165). Satan is described at length in an epic simile that
compares his great size to that of mythical figures. This simile drags on for
sixteen lines of direct comparison. This comparison to mythical figures makes
the reader think more about the subject therefore invoking more thought about
Satan's powerful stature. Due to the drama and persuasiveness of Satan's
rhetoric, he is the most well developed character in Paradise Lost.
Both the angels and devils and heaven and hell can be contrasted along
with Satan and the Son. Milton depicts the angels as being in a state of
eternal joy by singing, "With jubilee, and loud hosannas filled Th' eternal
regions." (Bk. 3, lines 348-349.) Nevertheless the angels are not being
presented with as much intensity as the devils are in Book one. Despite having
been cast to hell the fallen angels are still shown to continue on in their old
ways as if nothing has happened to them. Mammon leads some of the devils to the
hills to loot gold. (Bk. 1, lines 670-690.) Milton aptly describes the fallen
angels by giving the names that they were worshipped with and a succinct
description. Milton employs an epic simile in Book one to exaggerate the number
of fallen angels and hence the amount of evil: "His legions, angel forms, who
lay entranced, thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks in Vallombrosa."
(Bk. 1, lines 301-303.) Hell is described as the most appalling place in
existence as i t is "A dungeon horrible, on all sides round as one great furnace
flamed; yet from those flames no light, but rather darkness visible served only
to discover sights of woe." (Bk. 1, lines 61-64.) The devils build a palace for
themselves called Pandemonium which means all-demons, in contrast to the
Pantheon which means all-gods. This name demonstrates the absolute evil of the
building as it mocks any sentiment of goodness while at the same time exhibiting
the evil within. In terms of evil and detail, Satan's subordinates are
presented in much the same way as himself.
Humanity falls in the Garden of Eden because evil eventually conquers
good. Because evil defeats good in Paradise Lost it must be treated with more
emphasis. When the fall of humankind is being described in Book nine, Satan is
no longer described as a feeble underdog, he is now a powerful leader filled
with rage. His rage is portrayed in Book nine after he overcomes how beautiful
Eve is, "But the hot Hell that always in him burns, though in mid Heaven, soon
ended his delight." (Bk. 9, lines 467-468.) At first Eve resists the allure of
the apple and the knowledge that comes with it but she eventually gives in to
the persuasive serpent, thus departing from the realm of the innocent and
stepping into the evil. The simple act of Eve eating the apple serves as the
climax of the book. Milton builds up to this epic event by constructing the
sentence in a highly symmetrical manner. Two clauses and one periodic sentence
precede the moment when Eve eats the apple. This style of construction results
i n the meaning becoming clear only at the very end when she eats the apple.
The portrayal of the council in hell is more powerful and detailed than
that of heaven. The council in heaven mainly involves just the Son and God
whereas the council in Hell involves a multitude of devils in a scene that has
much more detail and emotion. It is emotion that Milton seeks to arouse when
writing Book two. The sense of grandeur that comes with the epic poem is being
evoked through the elevated style and the comprehensiveness of the council scene.
The departure of Satan is much more powerfully described than the departure of
the Son:

Then of their session ended they bid cry
With trumpets' regal sound the great result:
Toward the four winds four speedy cherubim
Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy
By herald's voice explained; the hollow abyss
Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell
With deafening shout returned them loud acclaim

Milton uses the epic convention when writing Book two and in doing so convinces
the reader to believe that evil is poised to triumph over good.
The fall in the Garden of Eden marks humanity's entry into a world of
sin forevermore. It is because of the severity of this sin that evil is
portrayed in a much more convincing manner than good. When writing this poem
Milton sought to coerce people into believing his view on the loss of paradise.
He does not write it as a standard poem that is written in a non bias way,
instead he forces his view on the reader as if his opinion is the way it is.

Works Cited

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Sixth
Edition, New York: Norton, 1996.


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