Analyze Books IX, X, XII
As you read, consider the meaning of the "Tree of Knowledge" and
what the prohibition (which they transgress) signifies in Milton's poem.
Keep in mind some of formal poetic devices
so as to practice some skills in close reading the lines; in particular consider
blank verse, enjambment, amplification and epanalepsis, and inverted
syntax. Also consider Milton's use of epic similes.
Notes and Discussion Questions:
Book Nine begins with the poet's announcement of the upcoming
fall. Why does Milton include this? What does this suggest
about the voice of the poet? What does this suggest about the tragic scope
of this epic?
He also includes another invocation at this point. What effect
does this have?
In this important book, Milton makes many arguments. Eve will
argue with Adam for her right to garden separately, and Adam will argue with Eve.
Satan in the form of the snake will argue with Eve about the virtues of knowledge,
and then Eve will argue with herself. One argument leads to another until after
the Fall utter discord breaks out. Examine the allegorical significance of these arguments and results.
Why does Eve ultimately decide to eat the fruit? (This question
is different, perhaps, then why does Eve eat the fruit.) Why
does Adam follow her example? What consequences do they consider?
Compare the impulses described in line 1015 and on with the earlier
description of pure love.
Why do Adam and Eve know shame at this point? What is the allegorical
significance? Describe their communication after the Fall and
compare it to earlier.
Note Adam's recriminations in book ten. How does he feel toward Eve?
What is Eve's response?
Why does Adam refuse to commit suicide?
How do they bring about their reconciliation with God?
In book twelve, examine Adam's amazement at Michael's report: "That all this good of evil shall produce, / And
evil turn to good" (470-1). This is a central paradox of the epic. How
do you understand it? What does it mean?
What is the allegorical significance of the ending of the epic: "The world was all before them"?
Consider the question, does Milton achieve his grand aim: To justify the ways of God to men?
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