A tree, a garden, and a tableau of figures make up the central setting for much of the action of Paradise Lost. In this setting God created and married Adam and Eve and commanded them to "Be fruitful." In this setting Adam and Eve yielded to temptation and committed sin. As these same events of the Old Testament are depicted in the iconography of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, a similar visual context is used. Most importantly, these iconographic depictions tend to interrelate persons and events of the Old Testament with counterparts from the New Testament. In iconography the temptation of Eve, for example, is interrelated with the Annunciation, which is also depicted in a garden setting; and Eve's sinfulness is contrasted with Mary's purity. At times the tree of knowledge of good and evil is visually juxtaposed with the cross, which is often depicted to resemble a tree; and Satan's pride at the Fall of mankind is contrasted with Christ's humility at the Redemption of mankind. When adapted into the literary framework of Paradise Lost, this kind of iconographic conceptualization enables Milton to interrelate the causes and consequences of the Fall with the means and manner by which Redemption is achieved. To a very great extent iconographic conceptualization is reflected in the development of character and action in Paradise Lost, in the elaboration of central themes, and in the selection of imagery.

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