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British Poetry And Drama Unit 1 Puritan Epic
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BRITISH POETRY AND DRAMA:17TH AND 18TH CENTURIES
John Milton, Paradise Lost : Book 1
Question And Answer
1. Please discuss the significance of three speeches by Satan in John Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Ans: Satan’s speeches in Milton’s Paradise Lost are interesting not only for what they say about the different topics he discusses but also for what they reveal or imply about Satan himself Whenever Satan speaks, he is inevitably telling us something about Satan, no matter what the ostensible “subjects” of his speeches are.
Take, for example, his very first words in the poem, words which he addresses to Beelzebub. Satan begins as follows : “If thou beest he; but 0 how fall’n!” (1.84). Satan speaks just four words before he interrupts himself and blurts out a surprised exclamation. He looks at Beelzebub and is shocked by the change he sees. He cannot, of course, at this point see himself, but Milton will make clear throughout the poem that Satan has been physically changed as well. Yet these physical changes in the fallen angels are far less important than the spiritual degeneration they symbolise.
Later in the same speech to Beelzebub, Satan refers to their “glorious enterprise” in rebelling against God (1.89). The word “glorious” is, of course, highly ironic, because the rebellion was glorious neither in its inception, its execution, or its ultimate results. Satan is either deceiving Beelzebub or deceiving himself (perhaps both); he habitually refuses to face reality, but he is also, of course, a great liar. Thus, when Satan a few lines later refers to God’s “rage” (1.95), he actually reveals one of his own most important characteristics. Indeed, he is exhibiting this characteristic in the present speech.
Another interesting example of the ways Satan’s speeches are self-revealing occurs in lines 681-87 of Book 2. In that speech, addressed to Death (whose identity Satan does not yet recognize), he reveals his pride, his contempt for others, his combativeness, his defiance, and his resolute determination. Yet he also reveals his tendency to deceive himself, as when he calls himself one of the “Spirits of Heav’n” (2.687). Of course, he is at present no such thing, and indeed he will be such a spirit never again. Having led the revolt that caused his own fall from heaven, he cannot really bring himself to admit that he is now a denizen of hell.
Finally, another example of the ways Satan’s speeches reveal aspects of his own character occurs in Book 4, where he essentially tries to blame God for his own evil designs on Adam and Eve (4.387-87). Here as so often elsewhere in the poem, Satan refuses to face facts, refuses to accept personal responsibility, and lies as much to himself as he does to others.
2. Describe Satan’s character in Book I of Paradise Lost by John Milton.
Ans: Book I of John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost describes Satan as utterly dismayed to be thrown from the realm of light to a place of dark and suffering . Satan has been left his spirit and strength in entirety . He suffers feelings of pity and remorse for having brought the rebel angels with him to the outer place of darkness . He bolsters himself and his courage by vowing that they will “do ought good never” but always do ill, which will be their “sole delight” . Satan is confident that the Almighty won’t drive them from where they now find themselves and demonstrates his determination to reign all-powerful where they now are and deems it better than serving God in Heaven amidst light and glory [262-3].
Though Satan is described by some as the hero of Paradise Lost, two things argue against Satan as hero, though Milton does make him sympathetic by endowing him with feelings of remorsefulness with pity and compassion for his rebel angels (he is, after all, still an angel). However, though sympathetic, Satan always dispels these higher, selfless qualities with determination to do harm and eventually avenge himself. The two things that argue against Satan as hero are: (1) Milton’s description of him in Book I, since the description shows that, although he has brilliant qualities, his spirit and heart are set on intentionally doing harm and leading others (angels who also still have their angelic qualities and callings) to continually do harm. (2) Though only hinted at in early books, The Son of God enters the story later on and is Milton’s true hero. This early focus on the antagonist and delayed entrance of the protagonist hero may be confusing to modern readers because, in our experience, the hero normally enters the story on or near page one.
3. In Paradise Lost, how does Milton make Satan an attractive character?
Ans: Satan is made—superficially–attractive by Milton in a number of ways. He feels that he’s been wronged by God, unfairly cast down from Heaven for daring to proclaim his independenCe and autonomy. These are highly desirable qualities which most people want, and Satan’s no different. It’s often been said by critics that God is depicted in Paradise Lost as a kind of tyrant, far removed from the loving God of the New Testament. Our instincts naturally rebel against anything that remotely smacks of tyranny, so Satan is in good company.
Satan, for all his numerous faults, is more recognizably human than the stem, remote figure of the Almighty. To some extent, his flaws are our flaws. In casting Satan down from Heaven, God has inadvertently put him closer to us. He shares our emotions—anger, joy, resentment, and hate—which makes him more empathetic, though not sympathetic.
Many have argued, most notably Shelley and William Blake, that Satan is the hero of Paradise Lost. I would disagree with this assessment for the simple reason that he degenerates morally throughout the course of the poem. Nevertheless, there’s little doubt that Satan’s presented to us by Milton as having a number of attractive qualities. After all, it wouldn’t have been possible for him.to tempt Eve otherwise.
4. How does Satan motivate his fallen angels in Milton’s Paradise Lost?
Ans: Ironically, one of, if not the, most powerful speakers in Paradise Lost is the leader of the fallen angels, Satan. In fact, if he were a motivational speaker in the 21 stC, he most likely would command very high prices for his speeches.
Satan, who was once one of God’s principal angels, rebels against God because God has given precedence to Christ, and Satan’s anger takes the form of a rebel-lion in which he convinces a substantial number of other angels to join him. His Latin name, Lucifer, means “Light giver,” which places him perpetually in the per-petually ambiguous position of having an original name with the positive connotation of “knowledge giver” but who is also known as Satan, the adversary, the devil.
Satan’s motivational skills are stunningly good, so good, in fact, that Milton ultimately takes them away in Book X, but at the beginning of the struggle between God and Satan, Satan is depicted as strong, proud (to a fault, of course), articulate, and intelligent.
After Satan and the angels have been defeated, “headlong themselves they threw/Down from the verge of Heaven,” an act which, though desperate, is completely voluntary, an exercise of their free will. If the reader doubts whether the angels truly have free will, this should convince anyone that, at the very least, Satan and his fallen angels have either limited or complete free will.
Advancing the theme of free will, Satan declares to his troops: “What though the field be lost ? / All is not lost; the unconquerable will. . . .” Later, Satan ties the concept of free will to the intellect by arguing that “the mind is its own place, and in itself/Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” This declaration, very dangerous in the context of the rebellion, basically says that each angel’s intellect has the ability to create its own environment, in this case, either a heaven or a hell. Of course, astute readers might question Satan’s logic here–if Satan and his fallen angels are doomed to lose the war with God and suffer eternal punishment, how complete is their “free will” ? As a good leader should, after the fall and while his troops are still somewhat discouraged and in disarray, he gives them perhaps the most powerful speech in the poem when he says that the battle may be lost but “the unconquerable will,/And study of revenge. . .And courage never to submit or yield,/And what is else not to be overcome ?” In other words, their will and desire of revenge cannot be overcome, implying that they will be able to recover their original position in heaven. This speech has an electrifying effect on the fallen angels who “clashed on their sounding shields the din of war.”
In essence, then, with Satan’s declaration of the primacy of free will, he argues that the continued exercise of that will inevitably leads to the defeat of God. This speech, and the exhortation to fight, is Satan’s declaration of independence and his commitment to wage perpetual war on God and his chosen beings.
5. In Paradise Lost, is the epic hero Satan or Adam?
Ans: The hero of a piece of literature is usually the protagonist, or main character. If that were the case with “Paradise Lost,” then we’d have to say that Satan is the hero because he is the protagonist. However, he does not behave in the way a classical hero should. Satan, in this epic, is what we call an “antihero.” That is, he is in the typical hero role, but he has none of the typical heroic qualities. The Columbia Encyclopaedia describes the antihero as the
principal character of a modem literary or dramatic work who lacks the attributes of the traditional protagonist or hero. The anti-hero’s lack of courage, honesty, or grace, his weaknesses and confusion, often reflect modern man’s ambivalence toward traditional moral and social virtues.
6. Why is Satan considered the hero in Paradise Lost?
Ans: The poet William Blake once famously said—or infamously, depending how you look at it—that in his portrayal of Satan, Milton was of the devil’s party without knowing it. The Romantic generation, taking its cue from Blake, hailed Satan as a hero because they saw in him a proud, defiant individual with a strong personality, battling against the seemingly arbitrary forces of authority in the shape of the Judeo-Christian God. Romantics like Shelley, who developed a similar theme in Prometheus Bound, believed that Milton’s Satan epito-mized their constant struggle against the authoritarian structures of society which they felt held them back, stifling the creativity of the individual artist.
It is important to recognize that this portrayal of Satan in Paradise Lost is by no means universally accepted. Indeed, the general consensus among literary scholars is that Satan is more of a parody of a tragic hero rather than an actual one, not least because he isn’t a fundamentally decent character brought low by hubris. In fact, as portrayed by Milton, he was never a decent character in the first place.
7. In Paradise Lost, how does Milton make Satan an attractive character?
Ans: Satan is made—superficially—attractive by Milton in a number of ways. He feels that he’s been wronged by God, unfairly cast down from Heaven for daring to proclaim his independence and autonomy. These are highly desirable qualities which most people want, and Satan’s no different. It’s often been said by critics that God is depicted in Paradise Lost as a kind of tyrant, far removed from the loving God of the New Testament. Our instincts naturally rebel against anything that remotely smacks of tyranny, so Satan is in good company.
Satan, for all his numerous faults, is more recognizably human than the stem, remote figure of the Almighty. To some extent, his flaws are our flaws. In casting Satan down from Heaven, God has inadvertently put him closer to us. He shares our emotions—anger, joy, resentment, and hate—which makes him more empathetic, though not sympathetic.
Many have argued, most notably Shelley and Wil-iam Blake, that Satan is the hero of Paradise Lost. I would disagree with this assessment for the simple reason that he degenerates morally throughout the course of the poem. Nevertheless, there’s little doubt that Satan’s presented to us by Milton as having a number of attractive qualities. After all, it wouldn’t have been possible for him to tempt Eve otherwise.
8. Write a note on Eve versus Adam’s freewill in Paradise Lost.
Ans: In Paradise Lost both Adam and Eve have free will. According to orthodox Christian belief it is a gift from God given to every human being. And yet our original ancestors choose to abuse this gift by defying God and eating of the Tree of Knowledge. Although God foresaw the Fall of man, he didn’t influence the exercise of Adam and Eve’s free will, as that would’ve constituted an enormous contradiction. Having given humankind the gift of free will, God was hardly going to determine how it should be exercised.
Eve is the first to succumb to temptation, the first human to abuse the God-given gift of free will. After listening to Satan’s persuasive arguments she eats of the Tree of Knowledge, thus bringing death and sin into the world. Eventually, Adam follows suit, eating of the Tree of Knowledge in open defiance of God’s strict command.
In doing so, he uses, or rather, abuses, his free will in copying what Eve has done. Adam didn’t have to do what Eve did; he didn’t have to follow her example. He could’ve admonished Eve and left her to her fate. But he didn’t. He chose to exercise his free will in the same way that she did, with fateful consequences for the history of humankind.
9. Write a note on the description of hell in Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Ans: Milton’s Paradise Lost is filled with very imagery in all of its many books, but Milton’s descriptions of hell are especially vivid, and keep in line with our general understanding of hell as being a place of fire and punishment.
In Book 1, Milton describes what happened to the fallen angels who dared to challenge God in Heaven. He states that the angels were all
hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky / With hideous ruin and combustion down / To bottomless perdition, there to dwell / In adamantine chains and penal fire … his (Satan’s) horrid crew / Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf.
This first description of hell is very clearly a place of terror and torment. The rebel Angels were thrown from the beautiful sky of heaven down to an unending hell of damnation. There they are suffering in the fires that they cannot escape from.
From there, the descriptions goes on to reinforce the above mentioned description. Hell is described as a dismal situation waste and wild / A dungeon horrible, on all sides round / As one great furnace flamed, yet from those flames / No light but rather, darkness visible.
This description is especially interesting in the final image. Normally we think of fire and picture the warm lighted glow that is emitted from the flames, but this fire is so intense and other-worldly no light comes forth. It is actually darker than seems possible. It is an incredibly frightening description. From there, the description continues with interesting and powerful word choices and short phrases. There is a mention of the “fiery deluge” which suggests a flood of fire — a flood is usually thought to be overwhelming and unstoppable. When Beelzebub tries to rally the angels to be strong in the midst of this torture he acknowledges the “dreary plain” that is “forlorn and wild.” He calls it a “seat of desolation” and describes the flames as “livid.” That is an interesting word choice because the reader might expect “vivid” meaning bright and lively, but he uses “livid” to draw the connotation of anger and power. Even though this hell is an awful and frightening place, Satan wants his followers to “toss off the fiery waves” and overcome this “dire calamity.” He rallies the other angels to try to rise from the firey pit they are in and to embrace the idea that even though they are damned
The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a Heaven of Hell, or a Hell of Heaven.
The angels may be eternally in this place, but they can still have great influence in the world. They can embrace.the idea that they are “in charge” of hell and no longer have God in charge of them. The rest of Paradise Lost is about how Satan sets about to get his revenge on God. As we know from the Bible, he sees his opportunity in the characters of Adam and Eve in God’s Garden of Eden. As they are brought down by sin, so is all of humanity.
10. Discuss thirst for power in Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Ans: The most powerful character in Paradise Lost is clearly God. Not only is he the most powerful, but there is a sense in which he is the only powerful character, since he controls everything. God has no need to thirst for power and sometimes appears rather burdened by the power he has. When Adam complains that he is lonely, having no equal among all the creatures on earth, God replies:
What thinkest you then of me, and this my state?
Seem I to thee sufficiently possessed.
Of happiness, or not ? who am alone.
From all eternity; for none I know.
Second to me or like, equal much less.
The great contrast to God, in his attitude to power as in everything else, is Satan. It is Satan’s overweening ambition and thirst for power that causes his fall. He makes the best of this by declaring, in some of the poem’s most famous lines:
To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.
Satan knows that this is not true. At the beginning of Book II he says so himself, making the point that no one will envy or seek to usurp his position as King of Hell, since this role condemns him to the greatest share of both danger and pain :
The happier state
In Heaven, which follows dignity, might draw
Envy from each inferior; but who here
Will envy whom the highest place exposes
Foremost to stand against the Thunderer’s aim
Your bulwark, and condemns to greatest share
Of endless pain?
Although Satan knows this, and has always understood the folly of his rebellion, his thirst for power continually overwhelms his reason. It was strong enough to persuade him to initiate a conflict he knew he could not win, and, even when he is in despair, his ambition is strong enough to fuel his constant machinations against the will of God throughout the poem.
11. Discuss the epic similes employed by Milton in book 1 of Paradise Lost.
Ans: An epic or Homeric simile is not just characterised by use of the words “like” or “as” to make a single comparison. It is an extended simile—it goes on and on.
For example, in The Odyssey, an epic simile describes the blinding of Polyphemus, the Cyclops :
as a blacksmith plunges a glowing axe or adze in an ice-cold bath and the metal screeches steam and its temper hardens—that’s the iron’s strength—so the eye of Cyclops sizzled round that stake.
This comparison isn’t only a matter of Odysseus plunging the hot metal rod into the cyclops’s eye as a blacksmith does a glowing axe into a cold bath. We get a series of “ands” (and the metal screeches, and it hardens), which adds vivid detail, importance, and emotional intensity to the description.
Borrowing from the Homeric epic tradition, Milton does the same in Paradise Lost. Similes go on and on, not simply ending with a single comparison. An example would be Satan rising up in hell after having been flung there by God. Satan’s huge wings unfurl and he flies upward :
till on dry Land
He lights, as if it were Land that ever burn’d
With solid, as the Lake with liquid fire;
And such appear’d in hue, as when the force
Of subterranean wind transports a Hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the shatter’d side
Of thundering Aetna
Here, Satan descends onto the dry land of hell that is first compared to a land forever burning and is then likened to the appearance of a hill torn from the shattered (exploded) side of a volcano like Pelorus or Mt. Etna.
Milton’s use of extended similes adds a magnificence to the writing that not only ratchets up our emotions because what is described is so extreme but also emphasises the grandeur of the subject matter, which is nothing less than explaining the ways of God to humanity.
12. How does Milton use Epic conventions in “Paradise Lost”?
Ans: The epic is centred on a hero who determines or is majorly involved in shaping the destiny of a group of people or a community. Epic conventions are basically characteristics of such narratives and they include :
: A hero or an ideal individual within the community
: The narrative covers a wide geographical scope and takes the reader from one region to another
: The narrative will concentrate on actions by the hero that are beneficial to the community
: The narrative may also blend in some supernatural forces
: The protagonist may be introduced at a lower level in order to be elevated during the course of the story
Paradise Lost is predominantly centred on the supernatural and tells the story of Adam and Eve and how they “lost paradise”. There are arguments about who the hero in the story is with some supporting Satan while others siding with Adam. In my opinion Adam is the hero because he fulfils most of the epic conventions. Adam is first portrayed as weak when tempted by Satan through Eve. He however emerges as the hero of man-kind when he prevents Eve from committing suicide. In the story he is in constant communication with angels such as Raphael and Michael. He is also portrayed as a wise man who understands Satan’s eventual defeat by the Son who will be born as a man. The epic also takes the reader to heaven, hell, paradise and earth which are geographically distant realms.
13. With reference to criticism of Milton’s style by various critics,comment on Milton’s use of lan-guage and imagery in Paradise Lost Book 1?
Ans: Milton was a master of languages: Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and the European languages of the time. He wrote in the best Latin verse by an English poet, so look for synthesis of language in the epic.
He uses the the following “Miltonic Qualities” in Paradise Lost :
: blank verse: unrhymed iambic pentameter
: interjections; Milton is the Great Poet/Prophet who instructs his readers
: switches subject and verb often (grammatical inversions and elliptical style)
: in medias res: in the middle of the action:
Latinate vocabulary (as stated above) : archaic spellings based on Spencer
: Catalogue method : lots of lists
: Each paragraph/stanza represents an idea
: Focus on Satan: imagery of the heroic, but doomed “Model Tyrant”; he is the most developed character in the epic; tragic character who knows of his fallen state, but chooses his fate regardless
: Imagery : light vs. darkness; heaven (paradise) vs. hell; good v. evil; angel v. demon; fate v. choice; love v. pride
14. Discuss Milton’s conformity to conventional epic style with reference to Paradise Lost, book 1.
Ans: In Book I of Paradise Lost Milton immediately conforms to the conventions of classical epic by invoking the muse, the traditional source of poetic inspiration in ancient times. As a scholar steeped in classical learning as well as a poet, Milton wants to establish his own epic as a continuation of a long-standing tradition, albeit with Christian rather than pagan elements.
Milton emphasises this point by referring to the “Heav’nly Muse” which he urges to give him inspiration. This is not the same muse that inspired pagan poets such as Homer and Virgil. This is the muse that is very much a part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, which inspired Moses to receive the Ten Commandments and write the Book of Genesis.
Milton states that his aim is to fly above the great poets of ancient times, whose inspiration came from the muses of Mount Helicon, or the “Aonian mount” as Milton calls it. In that sense, Milton is using the conventions of the ancient epic as a kind of springboard for the Christian epic he wants to write. On the one hand, he’ll stay close to the ancient epic in terms of form and elevated language. But in substance, he’ll depart radically from his ancient forebears in writing a true Christian epic that will attempt to justify the ways of God to man.
15. What are some examples of irony used in books 1 or 2 of Paradise Lost?
Ans: Situational irony occurs when events work out the opposite or individuals turn out to be the opposite of what is expected.
One of the ironies of Book II is that the legions of devils consider Satan a noble God when he tells them he will go by himself to:
the coasts of dark destruction seek
Deliverance for us all
This convinces them this evil entity is good and self-sacrificing:
Towards him they bend
With awful reverence prone; and as a God
Extoll him equal to the highest in Heav’n:
Nor fail’d they to express how much they prais’d,
That for the general safety he despised
His own …
They are making a foundational mistake in worshipping Satan. They are being deceived by the devil, who does not truly have their best interests at heart. As the narrator explains, they mistake the little bit of good that remains even in fallen angels like Satan for pure good itself.
There is dripping verbal irony (verbal irony is when words mean the opposite of what they say) when Satan is described as like God :
thor mighty Paramount, and seems
Alone th’ Antagonist of Heav’n, nor less
Then Hells dread Emperour with pomp Supreme,
And God-like imitated State; him round
A Globe of fiery Seraphim enclosed
The legions of devils might be deceived that Satan is glorious and worthy of worship, but we should not be : he is only a perverse and cheap imitation of the true God.
Situational irony overhangs all of Book II in that Satan plans to hurt God by going after his “mortal” creations to “tempt” them. Satan thinks he will revenge himself on God this way, not knowing he is simply a tool of God’s plan for the ultimate salvation of humankind and will act in a way that will help God and lead to his own defeat.
16. What are some examples of aporia and asyndeton in “Paradise Lost” (books 1-2) ? Use direct quotes from the books.
Ans: Aporia is an expression of doubt or a place at which a decision must be made.
As Satan addresses his legions in book 1, newly flung into hell, he conveys to them that they are at a juncture or crossroads in which they have to decide what to do. He asks them several questions, such as,
For who can yet believe, though after loss,
That all these puissant [powerful] Legions, whose exile
Hath emptied Heav’n, shall fail to re-ascend
Self-raised, and repossess their native seat ?
This is not a rhetorical question, though it sounds like one—in other words, Satan here is seriously at a point of doubt or aporia. He is shaken up, and while feeling his legions can fight back somehow, is not sure that a direct assault on God can work. As Satan notes, God showed himself to be wily in the last war :
his strength conceal’d,
Which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fall.
Therefore, Satan is in doubt as to what their next move should be when he asks the question above. He wonders if they shouldn’t try a new approach, what he calls “fraud or guile,” as he fears “force” will not succeed. We see Satan, in this moment of aporia, thinking aloud. In book 2, the aporia (doubt) continues, with Satan even questioning if concealed war would work, given that God can see everything :
Warr therefore, open or conceal’d, alike
My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile
With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye
Views all things at one view?
In asyndeton, a writer omits conjunctions, such as “and” or “but.” In book 2, Satan, as we have noted, is still in a state of aporia as he continues to talk on and on to his evil legions about what they should do to get back at God. He states that he fears a wrong move would really mean their end. He worries that God would win and put them into even a worse position than they are now. He envisions them,
for ever sunk
Under yon boyling Ocean, wrapt in Chains;
There to converse with everlasting groans,
Unrespited, unpitied, unreproved
The last three words in the quote above—Tnrespited, unpitied, unreproved” are an example of asyndeton. Normally, at the end of a series, one would put the word “and,” so that the line would read Unrespited, unpitied, [and] unreproved.”
17. Compare books 1 and 9 of Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Ans: These could be regarded as the pivotal books of Paradise Lost, as book 1 presents us with the premise of the drama that is about to unfold, and book 9 depicts the crucial event that is the centrepiece of the drama.
There could not be more of a contrast in both the characterizations and the settings of the two books. Book 1 has an almost science-fiction atmosphere, showing Satan, having been expelled from heaven, essentially in outer-space with the other fallen angels. The manner in which Satan himself is presented has been a source of controversy ever since Paradise Lost was first evaluated by critics and commentators. In the eighteenth century. Samuel Johnson noted that the words Milton has Satan speak are blasphemous, but, as a writer with a religious message, Milton had every right to present him in this way. In the nineteenth century, the Romantics, including Shelley and Blake, began to see Satan as the true hero of the poem : the expression of defiance and individuality that were the hallmarks of the Romantic spirit. In the twentieth century, critics such as F.R. Leavis and A.J.A. Waldock (the latter in his book Paradise Lost and Its Critics) saw the inconsistencies in Satan’s character as a fatal flaw in Milton’s approach. But few could deny that book 1, simply on the level of poetry, is the pinnacle of Milton’s achievement. The speech Satan makes in describing the overall situation in which he finds himself is worth quoting at length :
Is this the Region, this the Soil, the Clime,
Said then the lost Arch-Angel, this the seat
That we must change for Heav’n, this mournful gloom
For that celestial light ? Be it so, since he
Who now is Sovran can dispose and bid
What shall be right : farthest from him his best
Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme
Above his equals. Farewell happy Fields
Where Joy forever dwells: Hail horrours. hail
Infernal world, 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.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less then he.
Whom Thunder hath made greater? 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 T
o reign is worth ambition though in Hell :
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav’n.
The last line has been quoted again and again as either a symbol of defiant heroism or as the height of heretical wrong-headedness and perversity.
Book 9 has a completely different atmosphere. Satan has now become a snivelling fiend, though still eloquent, searching for an animal body to possess so that he can seduce Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. The sexual sym-bolism of the serf ent rearing its head and presenting itself to Eve is one of the most striking images in literature. Both preceding this and after it are long dialogues between Adam and Eve, both of which show their love for each other : first, unfallen, innocent love and then guilty love. Despite this earthbound book in many ways being the antithesis of book 1, Milton uses the same technique of relating himself and his writings to those of the epic poets of antiquity, though he maintains that he has a higher purpose for evoking a depiction of the “Fall of Man.”
18. Discuss Adam’s role in Paradise Lost, Books 1 and 9.
Ans: Book 1, for the most part, recounts Satan and his entourage after their fall from Heaven. Book 1 essentially begins “in media res” or in the middle of the story : after Satan’s fall. This is to be considered the first Fall and Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden is the second Fall. Book 1 begins by invoking “Mans First Disobedience,” the loss of Eden, and Christ’s restoration of hope for mankind. But the majority of Book 1 deals with Satan’s Fall, thus establishing a link between Satan’s Fall and Man’s Fall. Whereas Satan’s Fall is catastrophic, Adam’s Fall will eventually be a felix culpa (fortunate fall) because it leads to Christ’s sacrifice and redemption for humanity.
In Book 9, Adam and Eve discuss dividing their jobs so they can get more done. Adam says this isn’t necessary but then agrees to separate at least for a short time. Satan, in the form of the Serpent, uses this opportunity to tempt Even when she is alone. Adam is first appalled that Eve has eaten the fruit, but doesn’t want to live without her and determines that what’s done is done : “But past who can recall, or don undo ?” (D(.926). Adam then begins to rationalise that this is not such a bad thing. Adam eats the fruit. He and Eve make love and upon waking, they feel the loss of their innocence and clothe themselves because they feel shame in their nakedness.
Adam and Eve blame each other. She says that he would have been deceived by the Serpent just as she was. Adam admonishes her, saying he warned her about “the lurking Enemie” before she left to go off alone.
Adam realises his error. He thought he and Eve were perfect and therefore beyond evil seduction. He thought Eve was perfect but she sinned. By mistakenly thinking she was perfect, Adam is also not perfect. Book 9 ends with Adam and Eve continuing to blame each other:
Thus they in mutual accusation spent
The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning,
And of their vain contest appear’d no end.
Adam’s role in Book 9 is simply the first man’s disobedience. He and Eve are fallen heroes. His Fall is comparable to Satan’s. But Satan embraced his fall in rebellion. Adam and Eve dwell on their sin.