Paradise LostMilton portraits his puritan attitude in this poem, giving it the form of a religious epic poem: it can be considered epic because it deals with war, between God and Lucifer, but also religious because it is set in Heaven. Milton's intent was to make his poem great, that's why he uses many element belonging to ancient classical epic poems (Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and Virgil's Aeneid were Milton's great models) . Paradise Lost begins in media res and opens with a precise invocation to the muse for inspiration as do all epics of tradition.
The poem concerns the Biblical story of the "Fall of Man" the temptation of Adam and Eve by Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton's purpose is to "justify the ways of God to men"
Lucifer (bringer of life)feels equal to God so he doesn't want to accept God's authority: he believes that God has been chosen by someone more powerful as the leader of angels. After he has been defeated, Lucifer is sent to hell, an unpleasant and mournful place. Lucifer never regret for his act of disobedience and realizes that no other place would be suitable for him; he becomes God's antagonist and decides to dedicate his life to ruin and corrupt God's favourite creature: Man. In hell Lucifer's physical aspect starts to change, portraiting the corruption of his soul. He endures a process of physical and moral degradation.
The SerpentSatan is in the Garden of Eden because he wants to destroy man in order to create suffering to God. He's trasformed into a "serpent" (the poet uses a latinism to highlight the greatness of classical poems). Satan addresses Eve and tries to convince her to eat a fruit from the forbidden apple-tree, the tree of knowledge. He choses Eve because she is a woman and, because of her nature, she is considered weak, curious and vain, so easily convinced. Satan flatters Eve's ambition, calling her "queen of universe", then he compares her to himself: Satan tells her that he dared to eat the fruit and he acquired knowledge, without consequences, so if a reptile is allowed to disobey God, she is allowed too. Satan convinces her, trought his use of language, that God wants to deprive her of knowledge, but she need it in order to follow what is good and protect from what is evil. Satan asks Eve if she afraid of God or death: he analyzes the essence of God and says that if he punish her, he creates suffering, in this case he wouldn't be considered good; on the other side, she can't be afraid of death because she doesn't know what it is and, in the moment she realizes it, the fear disappears.
Milton praises man's reason and his free will, but at the same time he warns against man's weakness and especially the chief of sins, pride. It is pride that causes Satan's fall and, after that, brings Adam and Eve to ruin. Despite Milton's religious concerns the characters in Paradise Lost are not religious stereotypes; they are given individuality especially through their speeches. Milton gives Satan the rhetorical voice of a great leader who has lost everything except his self confidence, and on that builds a new greatness, though in hell.