Paradise Lost Book Summary - Paradise Lost Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Paradise Lost summary

John Milton

Adam and Eve’s Disobedience and the Battle Between Satan and God

4.4 (59 ratings)
22 mins
Table of Contents

    Paradise Lost
    Summary of 7 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 7

    Books I & II: Satan’s fallen soldiers

    Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.

    Like any good epic, Paradise Lost begins with an invocation to the Muse. Milton chooses the classical muse Urania, the muse of astronomy, to help him tell the story of man’s disobedience toward God. He also proclaims that he’ll justify God’s ways to man.

    Then, the story begins. Fallen angel Satan lies in chains on a lake of fire along with his fellow rebels. They’ve just lost their first big battle against God and plummeted to Hell. But despite their defeat, Satan wants to continue the struggle against God. In a famous line, he asserts that he’d rather reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.

    He breaks free from his chains and calls for the other fallen angels, rattling off a long list of names: Moloch, Chemos, Baalem, Ashtaroth, Astarte, Dagon, Rimmon, Osiris, Isis, Orus, Mammon, and Belial. Satan instructs this demon army to construct a capital city for Hell: Pandemonium.

    Then, he assembles his demons to talk strategy. How should they proceed with their struggle against God? Moloch suggests open warfare against Heaven. Belial advocates for doing nothing. Mammon argues for making Hell a little nicer, so they can all live a happy life of sin.  Finally, Beelzebub, speaking for Satan, proposes to take revenge on God by corrupting his most beloved creation: mankind. Naturally, Satan’s plan prevails.

    He leaves for Earth. At Hell's Gate, he encounters his daughter Sin – half woman, half serpent. She’s surrounded by hellish dogs and accompanied by their incest-spawned son Death. Satan instructs Sin to open the gates of Hell. But once opened, Sin is unable to close them again.

    Satan wanders through the limbo between Heaven and Hell, where he meets the allegorical figures Chaos and Night. As he moves toward Earth, Sin and Death follow his path – broadening it into a superhighway for evil to follow.


    Paradise Lost is an epic poem in the tradition of ancient literary masters like Homer and Virgil and Christian successors like Dante. Milton follows their example by opening his poem with an invocation to a Muse. He calls on Urania as the “heavenly” muse of astronomy, mixing classic and Christian symbolism.

    Then he begins his story in medias res, right in the middle of things – another epic tradition. Satan has just fallen from Heaven after rebelling against God and is about to establish his new kingdom of Hell.

    Protagonist Satan might be construed as some kind of antihero, but Milton doesn’t want readers to sympathize with the devil. Milton makes it clear that Satan’s power is illusory, since it ultimately derives from God. Satan’s battle is lost before it’s begun. But that won’t keep him from trying.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Paradise Lost?

    Key ideas in Paradise Lost

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Paradise Lost about?

    Paradise Lost (1667) is an early classic of English literature. In over ten thousand lines of verse, the epic poem tells the biblical story from Satan’s rebellion against God to Adam and Eve’s original sin. Written at a time of great political and religious upheaval, the epic proves an impressive inquiry of free will, sin, and the nature of evil to this very day.

    Who should read Paradise Lost?

    • Fans of epic battles between good and evil
    • Students of English literature
    • Anyone interested in theology and philosophy

    About the Author

    John Milton (1608–1674) was an English poet, intellectual, and civil servant. He’s widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the English language. Of his numerous books, Paradise remains his most important work. Despite facing challenges such as political persecution and blindness in his later years, Milton left a significant impact on Western literature and political thought.

    Categories with Paradise Lost

    Books like Paradise Lost

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    28 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial