Paradise Lost, Book 7

Adam asks Raphael about how he, man, came to be, how the earth was created, and why?

Raphael tells him that after Satan’s fall, God saw that heaven had lost half its population. Not wanting Satan to claim even that victory, God decides to populate heaven with a creature who, given free will, would earn their way into his glory.

God then creates darkness and light, the universe, earth and ocean, and plants and animals (in the same order as the Genesis story of the Hebrew Bible) in seven days.

Analysis:

With a direct Biblical allusion, Raphael relates the story of creation. Here, Milton uses the order and, in some cases, word for word description used in the first and second chapter of Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible.

Theologically, Raphael is giving God’s reason for creating man, and man’s universe, in the first place: in order to repopulate heaven. Man is designed to work his way to an angelic state by keeping correct, rational order to his passions, as discussed in Book IV.

Raphael story, and Adam’s remembrances, will parallel with Michael’s narration of the history of man after the Fall starting in book XI. The contrast between the two histories starts with the messengers who are narrating them. Raphael is a friend coming over for dinner. He is a soft, kindly angel who serves as a warning friend to Adam. Michael, on the other hand, traditionally a militant angel, comes in with full military regalia, as well as a squadron of angels behind him, to tell Adam the story as well as evict he and Eve from the Garden. Raphael is soft to Michael’s hardness, Raphael is amiable to Michael’s firmness. Raphael comes with gentle advice, Michael comes with strict enforcement of orders. The opposites stand as a pre-Fall/post-Fall contrast of the nature of interaction between God’s emissaries and man.

Milton reminds us throughout the poem that he is writing an epic and tying himself to a grand tradition by calling for the muse before he begins writing many of the episodes. In this Book , Milton actually calls on the Holy Spirit to be his inspiration, setting up a competition with Homer and Vergil who called on pagan muses to be theirs. Milton has already admitted he believes he is tackling a much bigger subject than they did in their poems. In this case, however, Milton is backing his greatness, and his authroity to write, with the element of the Chrisitan trinity that has inspired the writers of the scriptures.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s