‘Tis all in pieces, all coherence goneJohn Donne,An Anatomy of the World
THE PETITION OF RIGHTS (1628) which greatlylimited the power of the kingCharles married Henriette Marie, the Catholicdaughter of the King of France, appointed theCardinal William Laud as Archbishop ofCanterburyTHE CIVIL WAR (1642
Abolishment of the House of LordsRestoration of the international prestigeReorganization of the NavyMore successful in foreign than in internal policyAt his death, his son proved unable to rule1659 THE GENERAL GEORGE MONK SUMMONED A NEWPARLIAMENT WHERE BOTH HOUSES WERE RESTOREDAND IN 1660 THE PARLIAMENT INVITED CHARLES II TORETURN THE REPUBLIC WAS OVER
‘JOHN MILTONPARADISE LOSTGenre• Desire to write a poem to glorify England• Use of English language• Possible genres: epic; tragic; lyricThe choice of the genre is not simply a matter ofseeking the perfect medium for his story butthe anxiety of a writer seeking to place himselfwithin a centuries-old poetic tradition.Writing an epic, Milton places himself in thetradition of prior epic writers such as Homer,Virgil, Dante, Tasso and Ariosto.
‘Common features with classical and Renaissanceepic;1. It begins in medias res2. It deals with heavenly and earthly beings and theinteractions between them3. It uses conventions such as epic similes,catalogues of people and places and invocationsto a muse4. It contains themes common to epics such as war,nationalism, empire and stories of originDifferent features:• Unlike the Iliad and the Aeneid, Paradise Lost hasno identified hero.Possible heroes:1. Satan (the most Achilles-like character,sorrounded with many epic features)2. The Son of God, but although he is an importantforce in the poem, the story is not ultimately abouthim
‘3. Adam. He resembles Aeneas in many respects: he isthe father of a new race, responsible for foundingcivilization on earth but, unlike Aeneas, his primaryheroic act is not heroic at all: it is the first act ofdisobedience.In Paradise Lost, Milton is reconfiguring the old model ofthe hero redefining notions of herosm for his 17° centuryEnglish Protestant audienceAlthough mostly an epic, Paradise Lost containselements of Lyric poetry and of tragedy (the use ofsoliloquy, among the others).Milton’s first attempt to write the story of man’s fall tookthe form of a tragedy that he later rejected in favor ofepic
MILTON’S GODClassical gods and goddesses desires anddisagreements often mirror humans’ onesMilton’s God is invisible and omnipresentHow could Milton describe God to the reader? Theinfinite to humans?He describes God and his infinity in tangible termsby portraying God as if he were an individual, whenhe is something much greater. Everything relating toGod in Paradise Lost should be understood as a kindof metaphor , a device used to play the divine inhuman terms.Milton’s God is a harsh and uncompromising judgeover his subjects and this is in contrast with the aimof Milton which was that of ‘justifie the wayes of Godto men’(P.L.1.26)
Milton wants his God to appear less wicked than thetraditional Christian one and He often appears on thedefensive, explaining again and again that hisforeknowledge of the fall has nothing to do with fate:Adam and Eve fall on their own free will, not becauseGod in any way decreed it.This defensive tone little has to do with an omnipotentdeity, but Milton needs it in order to justify God: hencethe endless potential for contradiction in Milton’spresentation of God.God does not simply want absolute obedience in hissubjects, he wants the obedience of free beings:‘Not free, what proof could they have givn sincereOf true allegiance, constant Faith and Love’God’s complexities do make him difficult to findtrustworthy, while Satan’s seemingly logical challengesto his authority are quite appealing.
William Blake found Milton’s depiction of God so farinferior to his depiction of Satan that he consideredMilton to be an unwitting Satanist.According to him, God’s language is ‘flat, uncolored,unmetaphorical’ compared with Satan’s vivid andinspiring rhetoric.There’s another theory, by Stanley Fish, accordingto which Milton deliberately lets Satan seduce notonly Adam and Eve but the reader as well: thereader is first seduced by Satan’s powerful andimpressive logic, then slowly realizes that the logic isin fact twisted and nonsensical. The readingexperience becomes the transposition of man’s lossand, through the sin experienced while reading andbeing fascinated by an appealing Satan, the readeremerges renewed with a greater sense od faith,which is the ultimate goal of the poem.
MILTON’S REDEFINITION OFMARRIAGEMilton’s epic of theology and politics, heaven, hell,creation, free will and redemption, features a humanrelationship at its centre.Paradise is lost after Adam chooses to disobey God,choosing, according to Milton, Eve instead.Milton’s Adam exclaims to Eve :How can I live without thee, how forgoeThy sweet Converse and Love so dearly joyn’d?In response to this choice, the Son demands:Was she thy God?In Milton’s Paradise Lost, human love challenges God’sclaim to unquestioning human obedience.
In Genesis, the story of Adam and Eve’s fall is told in asingle line:She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave alsounto her husband with her; and he did eat (Genesis 3.6)In Paradise Lost, Adam eats the fruit of knowledge twohundred fourteen lines after Eve.Milton imagines an intervening mental strife unequalledin the history of the world as Adam comes to chose loveand death over rational knowledge of God.The story is no longer one of disobedience, but man’sdisobedience in favour of a human relationship.The Adam of Genesis sins against God after Eve giveshim the apple; the Adam of Paradise Lost sins againstGod not because of what Eve gives him but because ofwhat he needs of her.The critic Gregory Chaplin argues that Paradise Lost isremarkable as a ‘stage where Milton has the opportunityto depict his idea union’ which is ‘a merger ofneoplatonic friendship and Christian marriage’
Marriage is the original human relation.According to some critics, Milton redefines marriage asprincipally a conversation, in order to diminish thedivision between marriage and friendship.There’s a shift from marriage for procreation andphysical aspect to a relationship that satisfies the desirefor classical friendship and intellectual fulfillment.This Adam desires any fit companion and lamentsIn solitudeWhat happiness, who can enjoy alone? (P.L.8.364-5)Adam, unlike God, is incomplete without companionshipand this single imperfection will occasion mankind’sdownfall, as the need for companionship will obstruct therational choice to prefer obedience to God above othernecessities.According to the critic J.G. Turner ‘Milton’s ideal ofmarried love is a private bonding of male and femalesuffused with erotic energy’.
In Milton, the ideal relationship requires a special bondoffered by marriage: a person existing only for another.But after the fall, lust quickly perverts the pure assertionof devotionThat false fruitCarnal desire enflaming (P.L.9.1011-13)opening for the human carnal desires that would distorthuman relationship.THE SONHe is a more classical hero than the other figures inParadise lost. Like many classical heroes he is a king, agreat statesman and a military champion. He is bothglorious and vulnerable. Glorious in his godliness,goodness and military prowess and vulnerable in thepromise of his future humanity and suffering as theincarnate Christ.
Milton’s goal is not simply to create a classical epic witha traditional hero but the exploration and redefinition ofheroes and heroism.Milton says that Paradise Lost is about somethingdifferent than ‘fabl’d knights in battels feign’d’ but rather‘patience and heroic martyrdom’ . This is a Christiandefinition of heroism.The Son in Paradise Lost is called the Son because heis not the historical figure Jesus, nor the risen Christ: heis the Son of God, a God-figure who sits at the righthand of the Father. Milton distinguishes between Godthe Father and God the Son by implying that the Fatheris invisible and ineffable, while the Son is the Fathersubstantially expressed. While the Father exists in the‘pure Empyrean’, the Son as his substantial expressiondescends to Earth to judge Adam and Eve after the Fall,and it the Son who will take human form to in order toredeem mankind.
Chronologically, the very first scene that Milton describesin Paradise Lost occurs when God announces to theAngles that he has begotten the Son. God saysThis day have I begot whom I declareMy onely Son your Head I him appointThis declaration is the occasion of Satan’s rebellion andthe start of the war in Heaven, the result of which is theexplulsion of one third of the angels from Heaven anGod’s creation of Eden.The Son is of fundamental importance in the act ofcreation, the revelation of Godhead within history andthe salvation of man.In this sense, the Son is a hero.
KNOWLEDGE IN PARADISE LOSTThe end then of Learning is to repair the ruines of ourfirst Parents by regaining to know God aright, and out ofthat knowledge to love him(Of Education, Milton)Knowledge and education play important roles inParadise Lost since Milton is writing about the firsthumans on earth, humans who have no history and noway of knowing the world except through God’dinspiration.Human knowledge is attained through discourse whileangelic knowledge is attained through intuition.Raphael explains Adam the story of the war in Heavenand the creation of the Earth but stops when Adam askshim about the nature of the universe, because the goal ofknowledge is not to know everything in the universe butto increase our ‘appreciation of God’s goodness’ andincrease our faith.
Creation has to be both enjoyed and understood as asign of God; to examine it critically is to forget man’splace in it.Raphael says:Knowledge is as food, needs no lessHer temperance over Appetite (P.L.7.127-27)Just as we should be temperate with food, we mustdiscriminate between different kinds of knowledge,avoiding that which will move us away from God.This brings to the Tree of Knowledge of Good andEvil whose importance is less in the knowledge itbrings than in its function of ‘sign of our obedience’.Different types of knowledge before and after the fall:when Adam and Eve eat the fruit they lose thecapacity to attain intuitive knowledge and gainknowledge of the darkness into which creation fallswhen it is deprived of God’d goodness. The fallenAdam has less access to an understanding of Godand Heaven than the unfallen one, and Michaelspeaks to Adam in a more understandable way thanRaphael
Milton’s Paradise is a place where Adam and Eve haveinstant knowledge of everything they can name and aresimultaneously too pure to know unhappiness orrecognize evil when they see it.