Evil In Paradise Lost Analysis

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The Double Wisdom of Evil in Paradise Lost
In this essay, I will illustrate how, according to Satan in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, one truly “knows evil” and how this becomes evident in the ninth book of the epic poem that concerns the canonical story of the Fall of Man. Paradise Lost proposes that there is a dual strategy to truly knowing evil, which is illustrated by the two-edged rhetoric that Satan uses in the poem. On the one hand, the serpent in Paradise Lost makes it clear that one truly can know evil by having semantic knowledge of profound immorality, and, on the other hand, he insinuates that to truly know evil one must have empiricist experience of it. I will justify my argument by firstly examining the experiential semantics Satan uses when he persuades Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in Book IX of Paradise Lost, secondly by putting one of Satan’s most profound quotes on evil into context of the rest of Book IX of Paradise Lost and thirdly by illustrating which role the binary knowledge of evil, that of both semantic knowledge and empiricist knowledge, plays in the book.
To find out the meaning of evil according to Paradise Lost, the rhetorical structure of Paradise Lost must be established first and as such the dialectical reversal that Satan uses throughout the whole epic poem must be examined. In reading and understanding the words of Satan in Paradise Lost, it is crucial to examine how Paradise Lost contorts the, then conventional, ideas of the epic poem

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