Friday, January 22, 2010

Theme of Knowledge in Paradise Lost

I am very interested in the theme of knowledge in Milton's Paradise Lost. It used to bother me that God would forbid Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil because the idea of living in ignorance seems undesirable. I agreed when Satan says, "To happier life, knowledge of Good and Evil" (697). Milton answers this complaint by showing how the initial state of Eden was not ignorant bliss- Adam and Eve, aware of Satan's treachery, know that evil exists. However, it does not yet exist within them. At the fall, Adam and Even gain the knowledge of evil by experiencing it. Rather than keeping them low and ignorant (704), God's command to not eat the fruit was to protect their original happiness. In this scene, Milton truly reveals the Satan's distortion of the truth and the reversal of reason, convincing Eve that God is an envious liar by forbidding them wisdom (729). It seems that Milton is showing how humanity is easily inclined to fall into such temptations.

1 comment:

  1. Peter, I completely agree with your idea of the theme of knowledge. The Biblical account of the fall is much shorter but Milton describes many more details which causes the reader to look at it from a different perspective (Satan's). As I was reading parts of book four, I noticed the cunning descriptions Satan uses to tempt Eve. He also describes how he gained knowledge from the tree and explains how Eve can also have it(591-612). I think it is a warning to humanity how Satan can twist things for evil.