Paradise Lost consists of 12 chapters or “books.” If you aren’t inclined to read the entire work, consider using this overview to help you choose just a few sections to read.
Book I – A summary of Satan’s rebellion and Man’s fall. The narrative begins with Satan and his followers already having been thrown out of heaven.
Book II – Satan’s plan for revenge against God: to attack His new creation, Man.
Book III – God’s plan to redeem His fallen creation by sending his Son.
Book IV – Satan enters Eden, sees Adam and Eve, and is chased away by God’s angels.
Book V – The angel Raphael comes down to warn Adam and Eve about the enemy and the dangers of temptations.
Book VI – The battle between the angels and demons, finally defeated by Christ, as told by Raphael.
Book VII – Raphael describes to Adam God’s creation of the world in six days.
Book VIII – Adam and Raphael talk about Adam’s relationship with God and with Eve.
Book IX – Satan enters the serpent and approaches Eve; she and Adam both eat the apple, then they blame each other.
Book X – God’s punishment of Adam, Eve and the serpent, and Satan himself to be judged and destroyed by his Son. The far-reaching effects of sin are described.
Book XI – Adam and Eve are shown visions of future history before leaving Paradise.
Book XII – God’s plan of redemption is described; Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden.