Milton’s Paradise Lost Part 2: Destroying Epic 1/15/2014 9:49 PM
Milton, Paradise Lost Books 5, 8, 9, 12 (lines 372-649)
Renewing epic – it is an epic and has to be read in that way, unfolding the argument
buried in the opening lines, there is a structure to it. Allusions are part of the poem, they
are part of the architecture.
What is the sacrifice on the part of the son if he knows what is going to happen, he
knows he will live – can be compared to Milton who is behind the poem pulling the
strings. He is like Satan, what romantic poets love about Milton, he puts some of this
theological/political views through the mouth of Satan, who is fighting against a
tyrannical ruler (God).
One of the things that is interesting about the book is the expression of individual
autonomy opposite of the devotional views in Christian belief.
Milton pulls on one string of Christianity, he wants to tell a Christian Epic. Derived
from the same ideology as Margery Kempe. The way she dictates with an everyday
language/tone, in the scheme of national relations she is not popular or well known.
There is a legacy of Christianity, the celebration of the daily life/quotidian is sublime –
just as great as the life of kings/nobility etc. Milton is indebted to a tradition that Margery
Pg. 2003, line 32
- Satan arrives in Paradise, he is looking on son = sun, speaking almost in a
- “…no unbounded hope had raised ambition.” Why did he rebel, leave heaven – his
ambition made it so.
- He has escaped hell, “Which way I fly his Hell, myself am Hell; and the lowest deep
a lower deep still threatening to devour me opens wide, To which the Hell I suffer
seems a Heaven.
a. Hell is not a place, his mental process/ambition stays with him, he does not
change so Hell remains with him. Hell becomes a state of mind not a place
b. Satan discovers that hell is a consciousness that stays with him no matter
where he goes.
- Eden is surrounded by a wall pg. 2006, line 175
a. The only gate faces east, to the rising sun/son b. He is going to have to subordinate himself to the sun, the wall is not a
problem for him, he has just traveled through the cosmos he disregards God,
the son and leaps over the gate
c. At the very moment h leaps into the garden of Eden, he remains in hell due to
his ambition, he is also leaping out of it – the leap makes an argument for
Satan’s ambition – every time he is ambitious he falls
- We enter into Eden through Satan, we see what he is looking at. The person
describing something perfect is not perfect, through the eyes of someone fallen. How
to depict Eden when we are all fallen, not perfect.
- How does one see without seeing things the way Satan sees them.
- Pg. 2008 line 236 – How to depict something that is perfect? Requires a lot of artistic
skill, but Eden is made by god – art is an imitation.
a. Eden is the origin of the idea of perfect places, its pastoral. What is pastoral
about? About art.
b. Here is a pastoral scene that is not art, Eden is the real thing, the origin of this
c. If its not art, you are Satan – as soon as you have longing/ambition/desire to
be there, you are in the shoes of Satan.
- Pg. 2009, line 287 – First description of Adam and Eve
- Adam is defined by valor and connection to God, while Eve is defined by sex, she is
pretty and devoted to god in Adam.
a. What we are seeing is what Satan sees, it is not clear who thinks
b. “as their sex not equal seemed.” “both not equal…” means they are equal in
their inequality. Is this a representation or is it a truth? What is the truth of
c. Yes, Milton is a misogynistic pig, but to what extent is that view satanic?
- Satan looks at them and sees perfection, “Oh hell, what do mine eyes with grief
behold…pg. 2010, ”Sight hateful, sight tormenting!”