English Lecture “Paradise Lost” January 27, 2011
Paradise Lost, 4th Lecture
Iliad, Morte d’Arthur
Medieval + Classical (Tragedy)
Rising Action, Climax, Denouement
“Which way I fly is Hell, myself am Hell”
1-191: Focus on Satan
192-411: Dialogue of Adam and Eve
412 - 832 Temptation and Fall of Eve
833 - 1045: Fall of Adam
1046- end: “The morning after”
- The title “Paradise Lost” focuses on two things. Paradise. Also about the expulsion of Eden for
humankind. Mini narrative set in the past.
- Heaven is the realm of harmony order peace rest rationality.
- At the heart of Book 9 is conflict between heaven and hell. Internal battle is for Adam and Eve
and all of humanity. All humanity falls when Adam and Eve do.
- Rising tide of darkness is coming up from Hell with Satan
- Instead of being a place of freedom it’s entrapment.
- Choice. Adam and Eve will be placed with choices that define freedom (for Milton). Without
freedom you will just be going through the motions of life but without any meaning.
- Reason is but choosing. What we see then is the existence of two things definitive of freedom:
the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This tree defines the freedom of Adam and Eve. They
have a real moral choice with enormous consequences. The second thing is God’s command that
they must not eat off it.
- Without these two things there would be no meaning in their life. These two things give
them the opportunity to obey or disobey.
- Adam and Eve are fully equipped mentally. It’s easy to think of children with them, but
they aren’t they can deal with the choices they’re going to make.
- If they only did what they had to do, what pleasure would that give God? He gave them
freedom so that they can have desire and free will.
- Adam, reason is the reflection of God. Before the fall reason is unhampered. Adam and Eve
have a pristine unclouded capacity to think clearly. After the fall it becomes polluted by the way
of thinking that is coming to Eden in the form of Satan, Sin, Death and Chaos.
- When book 9 begins the choice between heaven and hell, good and evil is already approaching.
- Satan is sitting on a tree in paradise. He has jumped over the wall.
- He disguises himself as a toad and whispers to Eve while she’s sleeping. He’s using sleep
conditioning to get into Eve’s mind.
- In Eden there’s a kind of theatre. We are the audience here. We watch this solitary woman as
she engages in this horrific choice to unify herself with Satan.
- God has the ultimate perspective here, he sees everything going on.
- The essence of this drama is a drama involving freedom and choice. Freedom and choice for
the whole of humanity. The type of drama is tragedy. A downward movement from desirable
and heavenly to the disgusting Hell. English Lecture “Paradise Lost” January 27, 2011
- At the beginning of Book 9 the narrator tells us how we need to proceed here. A shift in mode is
about to occur.
- l.5 Narrator says ‘dis’ words. distance, distaste. The narrator doesn’t want to tell this
- Tragedy is stark and simple to Milton, between good and evil.
- Agon: Conflict or struggle followed by horrendous catastrophe. This is present here.
- Satan appears in paradise. He has to be credible enough to sway you.
- Adam and Eve have a domestic talk about what they’re going to do.
- The central event - temptation, fall of eve.
- another dialogue between adam and eve
- adam’s fall.
- “morning after” the denouement, we see the consequences of what they have done.
- guilt, shame, remorse, anger, negative qualities.
- important point: fall of eve is dramatic climax. everything prior to book 9 leads up to this
moment. unless/until adam falls, the fall is not complete. Adam’s fall is the theological climax.
once adam has eaten, there’s no going back.
- Nature of Tragedy: At line 13, Narrator explains that his argument is not less but more
important than all past epics.