Paradise Lost

Erin Shields's Paradise Lost is a feminist retelling of John Milton's epic poem about Satan being expelled from Heaven.

Erin Shields

The seventeenth century and present day are seamlessly intertwined as Satan vents to an audience about her frustration at being cast out of Heaven and her thoughts on oppression. When she finds out that God has created delicate new creatures called "humans," she crafts a plan for revenge and betrayal on the Almighty.

Erin Shields turns Heaven and Hell upside down in this witty, modern, feminist retelling of John Milton's epic poem about the first battle between good and evil. Shields's wickedly smart and funny script questions the reasons of the universe, the slow process of evolution and the freedom of knowledge. The debate over right and wrong has never been so satisfying. (From Playwrights Canada Press)

Paradise Lost is on the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award shortlist for drama.

From the book

ADAM and EVE eat fruit.

SATAN: (to audience) My God, they're adorable.
Like little toy angels,
though less encumbered with wings and halos
and the serious business of distinguishing
the heavens from the earth.

I could almost take pity on them
for the way they saunter along,
ignorant of the hordes of heavenly hosts
flying in and out of the garden providing every comfort.

You have to admit,
apart from their incredible beauty,
their expressions of innocence do make them look,
well, rather stupid.
No offence.
You've evolved since then.

Look at them.
As they move through the garden
a gentle breeze urges the flowers and reeds
and long grasses to bend to the side
and tap one another ever so gently,
which inspires the crickets to rub their legs
and the cicadas to flex their tymbals
and the bees to buzz along
so it appears to one watching
that the action of this man and this woman
walking through the garden
makes the very earth resound with gentle applause.
I wonder for whom this applause is intended.
They certainly don't seem to notice.

Did you catch the bit about the tree?
God has forbidden knowledge.
Made it a sin to "know."
While that likely explains the vapid expressions,
it really is quite infantilizing, don't you think?
Surely you should have been given the facts,
at the very least been provided with the concept of good and evil
before being tested for loyalty,
or some paternalistic notion of obedience.

Do you see how easy God made it for me?

SATAN looks at ADAM and EVE.

Like lambs . . .                                                                                                       

From Paradise Lost by Erin Shields  ©2018. Published by Playwrights Canada Press.