Something for everyone, is how I look at PL. It has action, argument, and psychological drama. It can be wearying, but the reason probably does have something to do with us, rather than Milton's faults entirely, as Walter Raleigh said.
Pardon the bad joke, but I have to think Milton thought of Satan as a Godsend, artistically, for his poem. If I were doing a movie of PL, I'd need to convery the sense of Satan's inner conflict, the most powerfully described emotion in the poem. Maybe the only way to do this would be to give him his soliloquy as Book IV starts. I'd have him somehow confront his own image, maybe in a pool of water, and talk to himself. He briefly lapses into the second person at line 66, and I'd have him continue this mode of address.
Hadst thou the same free Will and Power to stand?
Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse,
But Heav'ns free Love dealt equally to all?
Be then his Love accurst, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe. [ 70 ]
Nay curs'd be thou; since against his thy will.
Satan's speech in this section went a long way toward creating the view of him as a type of tragic hero, the villain who confronted his own evil nature. He also seems a bit like Prometheus in struggling against God. Of course, this view can be called a misreading, but it is partly understandable through Satan's eloquence and his honest emotional struggle with what he, unable to will it otherwise, is. It is also understandable in relation to the character of God. We as readers also might feel like rebelling against such a fellow. We also can see in Satan how powerful for Milton was the idea of the inner Hell. He didn't deny that Hell was a physical place, but his imagination is more inspired by Hell as a condition of inner torment one suffers from.
Me miserable! which way shall I flie
Infinite wrauth, and infinite despaire?
Which way I flie is Hell; my self am Hell; [ 75 ]
And in the lowest deep a lower deep
Still threatning to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heav'n.
Satan's dilemma has another dimension, that of the public man who has committed himslef to a position and now cannot back down even if he wanted. He is a prisoner of politics.
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduc'd
With other promises and other vaunts
Then to submit, boasting I could subdue [ 85 ]
Th' Omnipotent. Ay me, they little know
How dearly I abide that boast so vaine,
Under what torments inwardly I groane:
While they adore me on the Throne of Hell
What does everyone reading this poem think of the portrait of Adam and Eve? Women may have the strongest reaction to how Eve is depicted.