Milton’s Life: Stage One Youthful education and apprenticeship Student of languages BA from Cambridge in 1629 and MA in 1632 Five years of independent study
Milton’s Life: Stage Two Prose and controversy Antiprelatical tracts, divorce, & defense of execution of Charles I Worked for Cromwell as Latin Secretary Went practically blind but had assistants to help him Wife left and then returned to him but died Remarried and second wife died in childbirth Remarried a third time
Milton’s Life: Stage Three Literature Restoration->Milton lost property Turned to Literature: Paradise Lost Paradise Regained Samson Agonistes Renaissance->Art Reformation->Religion Died in 1674 from complications with gout
Paradise LostOverview and EpicConventions
Paradise Lost Overview Theme: “I may assert Eternal Providence, / And justify the ways of God to Men.” (ll. 25-26) Structure I-III: Adventures of Satan IV: Entry of Satan into Paradise V-VI: War in Heaven VII-VIII: Problems of Comprehending Creation X-XII: History of Mankind
Paradise Lost Overview Balances Consult in Hell (Book II) and Consult in Heaven (Book III) Heavenly Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost and trinity of Satan, Sin and Death Satan volunteering to seduce man and Son volunteering to redeem man Satan’s fall and Adam’s fall Style Full of Allusions and Epithets Epic Similes (see the comparison of Satan to large legendary creatures such as Leviathan, Bk. I, lines 197-209) Long Complex Sentences
Paradise Lost as Epic Epic Conventions The story begins in medias res. In Medias Res is Latin for "it begins in the middle of things" and then has flashbacks to explain action leading up to that point. The story begins with an invocation (prayer) to a god or gods, in classical times a muse was called upon for inspiration. The story begins with a statement of theme. Always, because these poems are so long and so complex, although the basic stories would have been familiar to the audiences, the poet would begin with announcing what the recitation was to be about.
Paradise Lost as Epic The story has many epithets. These epithets are re- namings of the characters, gods, or things by stock phrases. (e.g. Satan is Chief of Hell and Prince of Darkness) The story uses catalogues of things and characters; there are many lists, both long and short. There are long and formal speeches by many characters. Gods intervene in the affairs of human beings in these stories.
Paradise Lost as Epic Epics frequently have epic digressions. These are passages that do not further the action of the story because they are asides or because they are repetitions. The settings of these stories are vast. The heroes embody the values of their civilization.
Book I Milton begins his epic poem Paradise Lost with an invocation to a muse. Milton explains that his goal in the poem involves justifying the ways of God to men. He explains that God threw rebel angels out of heaven into hell, a scene which will be discussed in detail later on in the poem. The poems action shifts to hell, where Satan and his confidante Beelzebub have just been thrown. Satan questions if they should try to get revenge on God by force or guile. Satan tells Beelzebub that "the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heavn of hell, a hell of heavn." Satan tries to make the best of the situation in hell, explaining "better to reign in hell, than serve in heavn." They build a temple known as Pandemonium, which will serve as the location of Satans throne and a meeting place. (attempting to mimic heaven?)
Book II Satan asks should God be attacked overtly through war or covertly through guile? Moloch wants open war Belial is against open and concealed war: things aren’t so bad.. Mammon advocates doing nothing more, "free, and to none accountable, preferring hard liberty before the easy yoke of servile pomp." Beezlebub advocates a new course of action: attack mortal man, who Beelzebub describes as, "less in power and excellence (than themselves), but favored more" by God. Beelzebub explains that the best revenge would be seducing men to follow Satan. Satan offers to seduce and destroy men which parallels scenes later in which Son volunteers for undesirable tasks. Satan meets Sin and Death and bribes Sin to let him pass Sin agrees saying, "thou art my father, thou my author, thou my being gavst me; whom should I obey but thee, whom follow?" Satan passes Chaos and Night as he heads through the Abyss.
Book III Focus shifts to God and Milton makes a second invocation God and Son have been watching and know Satan is trying to destroy man God predicts man will fall: God explains that he created man "sufficient to have stood, but free to fall." Adam will eat the forbidden fruit despite the pledge of obedience. God says man will be redeemed only if someone steps forward: His Son offers to do is. The Son receives the ability to judge both bad men and angels. Narrative returns to Satan He is distracted by gates of heaven and is jealous of the Earth. He sees Uriel and disguises himself as a cherub. Uriel assumes he is curious and finally shows Satan (disguised) the way to Paradise.
Invocation and Thesis I thence Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song, That with no middle flight intends to soar Above th’ Aonian mount, while it pursues Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme. 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 sat’st brooding on the vast Abyss, And mad’st it pregnant: what in me is dark Illumine, what is low raise and support; That, to the height of this great argument, I may assert Eternal Providence, And justify the ways of God to men.
An Overview …say first what cause Moved our grand parents, in that happy state, Favoured of Heaven so highly, to fall off From their Creator, and transgress his will For one restraint, lords of the World besides. Who first seduced them to that foul revolt? Th’ infernal Serpent; he it was whose guile, Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived The mother of mankind, what time his pride Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host Of rebel Angels, by whose aid, aspiring To set himself in glory above his peers, He trusted to have equalled the Most High, If he opposed, and with ambitious aim Against the throne and monarchy of God, Raised impious war in Heaven and battle proud, With vain attempt.
Description of Hell A dungeon horrible, on all sides round, As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames No light; but rather darkness visible Served only to discover sights of woe, Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace And rest can never dwell, hope never comes That comes to all, but torture without end Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed. Such place Eternal Justice has prepared For those rebellious; here their prison ordained In utter darkness, and their portion set, As far removed from God and light of Heaven As from the centre thrice to th’ utmost pole.
A New Purpose for the RebelAngels To do aught 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 ofttimes may succeed so as perhaps Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb His inmost counsels from their destined aim.
Epic Simile Thus Satan, talking to his nearest mate, With head uplift above the wave, and eyes That sparkling blazed; 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 warred 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 slumbering on the Norway foam, The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff, Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell, (continued next slide)
Epic Simile (Continued) With fixed anchor in his scaly rind, Moors by his side under the lee, while night Invests the sea, and wished morn delays. So stretched out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay, Chained on the burning lake; nor ever thence Had risen, or heaved his head, but that the will 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 enraged might see How all his malice served but to bring forth Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shewn On Man by him seduced, but on himself Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance poured.
Satan’s Supreme Rationalization Farewell, happy fields, Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrors! hail, Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell, Receive thy new possessor—one who brings A mind not to be changed by place or time. The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. What matter where, if I be still the same, And what I should be, all but less than 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 choice, To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.
Satan Calls Forth his Minions Yet to their General’s voice they soon obeyed Innumerable. As when the potent rod Of Amram’s son, in Egypt’s evil day, Waved round the coast, up-called a pitchy cloud Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind, That o’er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung Like Night, and darkened all the land of Nile;
Part of Satan’s Speech Bk I But he who reigns Monarch in Heaven till then as one secure Sat on his throne, upheld by old repute, Consent or custom, and his regal state Put forth at full, but still his strength concealed— Which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fall. Henceforth his might we know, and know our own, So as not either to provoke, or dread New war provoked: our better part remains To work in close design, by fraud or guile, What force effected not; that he no less At length from us may find, who overcomes By force hath overcome but half his foe.