Book Review: Paradise Lost

In praise of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, I have created this illustration of what the world looks like as Milton described it. World means whole universe not Earth alone. Currently Earth is connected to Heaven by a golden chain and Satan wants to make a bridge that extends from Hell through Chaos and creates a broad path for all the evil of Hell to be able to travel to Earth (not pictured).

The layout of the universe—with Heaven above, Hell below, and Earth in the middle—presents the universe as a hierarchy based on proximity to God. Milton divides the universe into four major regions:  Heaven, Hell, Chaos, and Earth connected to Heaven by a golden chain (pre-fall of Adam and Eve). After Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden tree, Earth is released from it’s chain and falls into orbit as we know it today.

Milton's World Paradise Lost

First a guideline to reading Paradise Lost: There is no creation out of nothing; matter and spirit are a continuum. Therefore God created Hell out of Chaos: they are not one in the same and Hell is silent. Satan and his cohorts had lost and been cast out of Heaven and fell a total of nine days or “nine times the space that measures day and night” toward Hell. The fallen Angels amount to an innumerable amount, though Milton believes that Satan emptied a third of Heaven. Satan calls them by their pre-fallen titles even though the spirit’s names changes in Hell.

Satan asks Night and Chaos directions to get to Earth and in return promises them some matter back which God had taken away in order to create Hell and Earth. No matter where Satan goes, he will bring Hell with him; they are one in the same now. Chaos is ruled over by “Rumour next and Chance, And Tumult and Confusion all embroiled.” In Chaos there is true darkness. It is from this Chaos, as is told in the Genesis story, that Heaven and Earth are created, and where God creates light.

Second guideline: There is nothing bad in Heaven. The fallen have been exiled out of Heaven. Satan tempted the other Angels and each chose their own destiny out of free will. In Heaven and Hell there is a king and a military hierarchy of angels, however, they’re the reverse of each other. The darkness of Hell symbolizes the distance Satan and his army are from the luminous light of God.

Third guideline: Earth is the only place where good and evil can coexist.

 

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