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Paradise Lost (BLI-10)
Transcript of Paradise Lost (BLI-10)
a poet and a statesman
Structure: 12 books (originally 10, later restructured)
the man who is perfect and yet incomplete
Paradise Lost as a political allegory
a tragic figure of the ultimate rebel
Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing Heav'nly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed,
In the Beginning how the Heav'ns and Earth
Rose out of Chaos: Or if Sion Hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa's Brook that flow'd
Fast by the Oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventrous Song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th' Aonian Mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime.
Dignity, reserve and stateliness
Sonorous, orotund voice
Inversion of the natural order of words and phrases
Omission of superfluous words
Parenthesis and opposition
The use of one part of speech for another
Archaic, foreign words or words in obsolete sense
Insertion of superfluous proper names
Unusual compound epithets
Grandiloquence of voice and vision
an extension of the poet's personal liberty
Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, Heavenly Muse
O thou that, with surpassing glory crown'd
Look'st from thy sole dominion like the god
Of this new World.
"unvoyageable gulf obscure"
"And where their weakness, how attempted best,
By force or subtlety."
"Their song was partial, but the harmony
(What could it less when Spirits immortal sing?)
Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet
(For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense)
Others apart sat on a hill retired"
"Heaven's azure" - adjective used as a noun
"without disturb they took alarm" - verb as a noun
"May serve to better us and worse our foes" - adjectives as verbs
"And leave a singèd bottom all involved
With stench and smoke,"
"And what resounds
In fable or romance of Uther's son,
Begirt with British and Armoric knights;
And all who since, baptised or infidel,
jousted in Aspramont, or Montalban,
Damasco, or Marocco, or Trebisond;
Or whom Biserta sent from Afric shore
When Charlemain with all his peerage fell
Two narrative lines:
the story of the Satan
the story of Adam and Eve
a heroic epic, telling of the battle in Heavens
a domestic epic, telling of the relationship between Adam and Eve and their connection with God
we meet the antagonist before meeting the protagonist
rebellion against God who is a tyrant, a desire for self-government - Satan as the first democrat?
the image of Satan remains ambiguous: he may be perceived as the proud and arrogant anti-hero, doomed to defeat and yet attractive in his tragic denial to bend before the higher powers
lonely and unhappy even in Paradise until Eve is created
deeply involved with Eve, which leads him to commit the sin of disobedience willingly
originally, a model wife: obedient, submissive, pure
yet, weak and feeble-minded: is easily led astray by Satan
Received a sound university education at Cambridge and continued to expand his knowledge through self-study
Son of a composer
Wrote poetry in English, Italian and Latin
Considered to be the most learned of all English poets
Spoke Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and studied Old English for his historical writings
During the Civil War was active on the side of the Puritans, writing political tracts
Advocated legal divorce
Went completely blind in his old age and continued to dictate his poetry to his daughters and helpers
unrhymed iambic pentameter
the most common and influential form of English poetry since the sixteenth century
First introduced by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
Christopher Marlowe established it as the dominant form for the English drama
may be quite monotonous, if not variegated through enjambment or abrupt effects of speech acts
Became Secretary for Foreign Tongues in Cromwell's administration, writing numerous learned treatises (in Latin) in defense of the regicide and republican ideas
"Paradise Lost is, among other things, a poem about civil war. Satan raises 'impious war in Heav'n' (i 43) by leading a third of the angels in revolt against God. The term 'impious war'. . .implies that civil war is impious. But Milton applauded the English people for having the courage to depose and execute King Charles I. In his poem, however, he takes the side of 'Heav'n's awful Monarch' (iv 960). Critics have long wrestled with the question of why an antimonarchist and defender of regicide should have chosen a subject that obliged him to defend monarchical authority"
(Leonard, John. "Introduction." Paradise Lost. New York: Penguin, 2000)
"Milton deserves credit for making God wicked, since the God of Christianity is 'a wicked God'" (William Empson)
A Wicked God?
"The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it." (William Blake)
omniscient and omnipotent, yet allowing the fall of Satan and the fall of man
"All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?"
But what if he our Conquerour, (whom I now
Of force believe Almighty, since no less
Then such could hav orepow'rd such force as ours)
Have left us this our spirit and strength intire
Strongly to suffer and support our pains,
That we may so suffice his vengeful ire,
Or do him mightier service as his thralls
By right of Warr, what e're his business be
Here in the heart of Hell to work in Fire,
Or do his Errands in the gloomy Deep;
What can it then avail though yet we feel
Strength undiminisht, or eternal being
To undergo eternal punishment?
Is it possible that the fall of the Angels is part of God's purpose to use them as slaves in their eternal damnation?
Did God allow them to retain their spirit and strength thus to punish them more severely?
Is evil serving a purpose in God's design?
To do ought good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being the contrary to his high will
Whom we resist. If then his Providence
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labour must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evil;
Which oft times may succeed, so as perhaps
Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb
His inmost counsels from thir destind aim.
Satan's pledge to resist God's attempts to use him
"the mind and spirit remains
Invincible, and vigour soon returns"
The invincible will
And chiefly Thou O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all Temples th' upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for Thou know'st; Thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread
Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss
And mad'st it pregnant: What in me is dark
Illumin, what is low raise and support;
That to the highth of this great Argument
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justifie the wayes of God to men.
The muse = Holy Spirit
Conventional invocation of the muse at the beginning of an epic
indicating the author's awareness of poetic tradition of Homer, Virgil and other illustrious poets
Indicates the great ambition of the author to go far beyond his predecessors by speaking about the Truth and fundamental issues for human beings
indicates the poet's humility in depending solely on God's grace for his inspiration and materials
Reference to Moses as the author of Genesis who brought down Ten Commandments to "the chosen seed" - the God's people
The Muse of Milton floats above the muses of the classical poets
Aonian mount = mountain Helicon, where 9 classical muses reside
The Holy Spirit is designated as the force that created the world and thus the source of all wisdom and inspiration
The Poet indicates his goal in making clear the God's purpose, by showing how the fall of man was part of the greater plan.
And high permission of all-ruling Heaven
Left him at large to his own dark designs,
That with reiterated crimes he might
Heap on himself damnation, while he sought
Evil to others, and enrag'd might see
How all his malice serv'd but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace and mercy shewn
On Man by him seduc't, but on himself
Treble confusion, wrath and vengeance pour'd.
The freedom of choice
The story of Man's Fall
Satan's repeated attempts at seducing Adam & Eve
Adam's reaction and decision to follow Eve even in damnation and death
Creation of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve
The consequences of the Fall
The promise of Salvation
from the start the object of Satan's plotting
The Satan's Angels - ancient heathen gods
Milton finds a way to reconcile Christian faith with an admission of existence of pagan idols
His vision allows for the existence of "gods" simultaneously upholding the supremacy of Christian God
Satan as the most active force in the poem
epic similes: lengthy and developed comparisons
... his other Parts besides
Prone on the Flood, extended long and large
Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge
As whom the Fables name of monstrous size,
Titanian, or Earth-born, that warr'd on Jove,
Briareos or Typhon, whom the Den
By ancient Tarsus held, or that Sea-beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim th' Ocean stream:
Him haply slumbring on the Norway foam
The Pilot of some small night-founder'd Skiff,
Deeming some Island, oft, as Sea-men tell,
With fixed Anchor in his skaly rind
Moors by his side under the Lee, while Night
Invests the Sea, and wished Morn delayes:
So stretcht out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay
Chain'd on the burning Lake...
Satan appears as a being of huge size, yet all comparisons lead us no closer to establishing what his actual size is: every comparison is mythical.
The following books show Satan steadily diminishing in size.
Making a Home of Hell
... and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time.
The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
... Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.
inspiring horror or intense fear
eruption of a volcano:
(1608 – 1674)
Say first, for Heav'n hides nothing from thy view
Nor the deep Tract of Hell, say first what cause
Mov'd our Grand Parents in that happy State,
Favour'd of Heav'n so highly, to fall off
From thir Creator, and transgress his Will
For one restraint, Lords of the World besides?
Who first seduc'd them to that foul revolt?
Th' infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
Stird up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv'd
The Mother of Mankind...
... what time his Pride
Had cast him out from Heav'n, with all his Host
Of Rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in Glory above his Peers,
He trusted to have equal'd the most High,
If he oppos'd; and with ambitious aim
Against the Throne and Monarchy of God
Rais'd impious War in Heav'n and Battel proud
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurld headlong flaming from th' Ethereal Skie
With hideous ruine and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire,
Who durst defie th' Omnipotent to Arms.
The War in Heavens
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Fall of the Rebel Angels (1562)