Love is one of the Christian God’s most important attributes, and Heavenly love also takes center stage early in the poem as the angels ceaselessly worship God and commune with each other in joy, and the Son offers himself as a sacrifice for humankind out of love for them. Then when Adam and Eve are created, the poem partly shifts its focus to mortal love and the idea of marriage.
Milton was seen as radical and lewd for suggesting that Adam and Eve had sex before the Fall and still remained sinless, but Milton creates a picture of marital love that is innocent and pure and still involves sexuality, mostly as a form of obedience to God’s command to “be fruitful.” Milton also emphasizes the hierarchy in marriage, which relates to the general ideas about women at the time. Adam is created to be superior to Eve, communing with God directly, while she communes with God through him, and while Eve is more beautiful, Adam is wiser and stronger. Along with this marital hierarchy, there is also a proper order for love itself. Love of God should come before romantic love (or self-love, in Satan’s case), so when Adam chooses to disobey God’s commandment for the sake of Eve’s love, this is as much his “original sin” as the actual eating of the forbidden fruit. Though this romantic love leads to the Fall, it is also a great comfort to the couple (along with the ever-present love of God) as they are expelled from Paradise. Adam and Eve can still take some joy in each other, and look forward to the day when God will prove his divine love through his Son’s incarnation.
Love and Marriage ThemeTracker
Love and Marriage Quotes in Paradise Lost
So man, as is most just,
Shall satisfy for man, be judged and die,
And dying rise, and rising with him raise
His brethren, ransomed with his own dear life.
So Heav’nly love shall outdo Hellish hate,
Giving to death, and dying to redeem,
So dearly to redeem what Hellish hate
So easily destroyed, and still destroys
In those who, when they may, accept not grace.
Be then his love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay cursed be thou; since against his thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Me miserable! Which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And in the lowest deep a lower deep
Still threat’ning to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heav’n.
Straight side by side were laid, nor turned I ween
Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites
Mysterious of connubial love refused:
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
Of purity and place and innocence,
Defaming as impure what God declares
Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.
Our Maker bids increase, who bids abstain
But our destroyer, foe to God and man?
Hail wedded love, mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety,
In Paradise of all things common else.
Solicit not thy thoughts with matters hid,
Leave them to God above, him serve and fear;
Of other creatures, as him pleases best,
Wherever placed, let him dispose; joy thou
In what he gives to thee, this Paradise
And thy fair Eve; heav’n is for thee too high
To know what passes there; be lowly wise:
Think only what concerns thee and thy being;
Dream not of other worlds…
However I with thee have fixed my lot,
Certain to undergo like doom; if death
Consort with thee, death is to me as life;
So forcible within my heart I feel
The bond of nature draw me to my own,
My own in thee, for what thou art is mine;
Our state cannot be severed, we are one,
One flesh; to lose thee were to lose myself.
Adam, Heav’n’s high behest no preface needs:
Sufficient that thy prayers are heard, and Death,
Then due by sentence when thou didst transgress,
Defeated of his seizure many days
Giv’n thee of grace, wherein thou may’st repent,
And one bad act with many deeds well done
May’st cover: well may then thy Lord appeased
Redeem thee quite from Death’s rapacious claim;
But longer in this Paradise to dwell
Permits not; to remove thee I am come,
And send thee from the garden forth to till
The ground whence thou wast taken, fitter soil.
They looking back, all th’ eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand, the gate
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They hand in hand with wand’ring steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.