The Son’s Super Power

So, I found this part interesting while reading (ok, listening to) Book 12.

To whom thus Michael. Dream not of thir fight,
As of a Duel, or the local wounds
Of head or heel: not therefore joynes the Son
Manhood to God-head, with more strength to foil
Thy enemie; nor so is overcome [ 390 ]
Satan, whose fall from Heav’n, a deadlier bruise,
Disabl’d not to give thee thy deaths wound:
Which hee, who comes thy Saviour, shall recure,
Not by destroying Satan, but his works
In thee and in thy Seed:

So the ultimate defeat of Satan will not come by strength of arms, but by strength of heart (blood and ashes, that was a lot cheesier than I intended it to sound.) The Adversary shall not be defeated in the field but removing Satan’s corruption from the world. We saw something similar to this in the description of the war in heaven. When “The Son is set loose on the battlefield, it is not by fighting Satan that he is able to defeat him, but by undoing everything that Satan’s war had done thus far. As we had seen throughout the poem, Satan is a narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, show-off, his guiding star being how others view him. As such, it is a far greater injury than any weapon could do, just to simply erase Satan’s effects, to remove what he has done and deny him his glory.

It Takes Two

Something I noticed after my presentation, and am now kicking myself that I did not focus on it more, is the point where Adam is able to finally reach his metanoia (thank you Raegan for bringing us that word).  I had said in my presentation that Adam reaches his acceptance after reuniting with Eve, which brought something to mind, everything positive that they do, they do it together.

 

So spake our Father penitent, nor Eve

Felt less remorse: they forthwith to the place

Repairing where he judg’d them prostrate fell

Before him reverent, and both confess’d [ 1100 ]

Humbly thir faults, and pardon beg’d, with tears

Watering the ground, and with thir sighs the Air

Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign

Of sorrow unfeign’d, and humiliation meek.

 

See, it is not just Adam who repairs and falls prostrate, THEY repair and fall prostrate.  Adam reaches his moment of acceptance and has his change only after he reunites with Eve, and then in the end they go out into the world hand in hand.  This makes me wonder about Satan.  He never had a partner, like Adam has in Eve, he has Beelzebub, who was a kind of friend in Heaven and then a trusted underling, but not a partner, Satan is far to proud to consider anyone his equal.  So I wonder then, what if Satan had had a counterpart?  If there had been anyone Satan had considered his partner, would they have made any difference, could they have changed Satan’s mind?

Is It Worth It?

In book 10 we have Adam’s soliloquy as he deals with his grief for his part in “the fall.”  One of the points he touches on in his soliloquy is that humanity will be doomed because of him, so why continue, knowing that everything will inevitably die, is giving life worth it?  Now, I don’t have any kids (probably a good thing, one of me running around is bad enough,) so I cannot speak to that, but I have had quite a few of the four-legged kind of children.  I had a cat once named Stumpy.  This cat had a rough life, she was abandoned at my house as a kitten, she was an amputee cat so she only had three legs, (I know what you are thinking, her name was Stumpy before she lost her leg, it was because she only had a nub for a tail,) she had a chest infection and had to spend months on constant medication, and in the end she died of feline breast cancer at the age of 6.  I loved this cat dearly, and even though it has been almost six years since she passed, I still sometimes cry while thinking about her.  That being said, after seeing everything she went through and how painful it was to lose her, I wouldn’t give that up.  Pets live much shorter lives than us, and so we know that when we bring one of these furry babies into our lives that we will inevitably have to watch them pass, but does that mean we just shouldn’t have pets?  (Before anyone says anything, I know that pets are different than human children, but the core concept is very similar.)

To put this another way I am going to use C.S. Lewis.  The man always seems to have so much to say on Milton, so why not use him while talking about Milton?  In his book, The Magician’s Nephew, a pair of children end up in strange world that appears abandoned.  In this world, they find a bell with an inscription on it,

“Make your choice, adventurous Stranger,

Strike the bell and bide the danger,

Or wonder, till it drives you mad,

What would have followed if you had.”

 

So I guess it all comes down to a choice.  Knowing that something with the potential to bring you joy, could also bring you pain, is it worth giving up the joy to avoid the pain?

No Patience for Show-Offs

Ok, this may seem like a weird thing to get hung up on, but for me, what else is new?   Like I’ve said several times before now, bear with me.  So, Satan has just gained his great victory, he has brought Adam and Eve down with his temptation, ruining God’s paradise.  And now, great diva that Satan is, has rushed home, and after making a grand entrance in Pandemonium, has to tell all his buddies about what he did…

 

Long were to tellWhat I have don, what sufferd, with what paine [ 470 ]Voyag’d th’ unreal, vast, unbounded deepOf horrible confusion, over whichBy Sin and Death a broad way now is pav’dTo expedite your glorious march; but IToild out my uncouth passage, forc’t to ride [ 475 ]Th’ untractable Abysse, plung’d in the wombOf unoriginal Night and Chaos wilde,That jealous of thir secrets fiercely oppos’dMy journey strange, with clamorous uproareProtesting Fate supreame; thence how I found [ 480 ]The new created World, which fame in Heav’nLong had foretold, a Fabrick wonderfulOf absolute perfection, therein ManPlac’t in a Paradise, by our exileMade happie: Him by fraud I have seduc’d [ 485 ]From his Creator, and the more to increaseYour wonder, with an Apple (469-487)

 

As stated, Satan is nothing if not an attention hound (would have used a less soft word there but we’re supposed to refrain from vulgarity).  He gets back to Pandemonium, pretends to be a lesser angel until he can sneak up and surprise everyone with his big reveal.  It’s all very theatrical, reminding me of an actor sneaking through the crowd to make a surprise entrance.  Them he makes his big speech, and get’s an unexpected result.

 

So having said, a while he stood, expectingThir universal shout and high applause [ 505 ]To fill his eare, when contrary he hearsOn all sides, from innumerable tonguesA dismal universal hiss, the soundOf public scorn; (504-509)

 

I know the biblical president for turning the demons into snakes, but I cannot help but feel like this is Milton criticizing Satan for his theatrics.  Satan entered Pandemonium like a preening diva and then for all his show-boating, he essentially get’s booed off the stage.  I personally have never had much tolerance for a show-off, makes me wonder if Milton felt the same way.  Though, he was blind when he wrote this, so now who’s showing off?

Maybe Toxic Romance?

So, I am going to pose a question to the more “romantic” members of our class.  That doesn’t mean that if, like me, you are only capable of making a vague attempt at human emotion because you are dead inside and shuffle aimlessly through day after day in search of some purpose and… I’m getting off topic…  Need a puppy fix…

Feeling better… Where was I?  Oh right, even if you do not identify as a “romantic” you can still weigh in.  So, we are witness to the fall in Book 9 as first Eve is tempted by Satan posing as a Snake, then Adam tempted by Eve, into eating the forbidden fruit.  Reading Eve’s reasoning after eating the fruit stirred something deep within the frozen rock that serves in place of a human heart (NO, BAD, HUMAN EMOTION, HUMAN EMOTION.)

 

This may be well: but what if God have seen

And Death ensue? then I shall be no more,

And Adam wedded to another Eve,

Shall live with her enjoying, I extinct;

A death to think. Confirm’d then I resolve, [ 830 ]

Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe:

So dear I love him, that with him all deaths

I could endure, without him live no life.

 

My question then is thus, is this a romantic feeling on Eve’s part?

A Woman’s Courage

There is quite a bit of female empowerment in Paradise Lost. In Book 7, Milton calls out to the Muse Urania, a female being, and also describes the being of Wisdom as being feminine. He is asking for inspiration and guidance from Urania to help him with his Epic. He also describes the Earth itself as being feminine. All the creatures of the Earth, while created by God, are given birth to by the Earth.

Let th’ Earth bring forth Foul living in her kinde,
Cattel and Creeping things, and Beast of the Earth,
Each in their kinde. The Earth obey’d, and strait
Op’ning her fertile Woomb teem’d at a Birth
Innumerous living Creatures, perfet formes, [ 455 ]
Limb’d and full grown: out of the ground up rose
As from his Laire the wilde Beast where he wonns
In Forrest wilde, in Thicket, Brake, or Den;
Among the Trees in Pairs they rose, they walk’d:
The Cattel in the Fields and Meddowes green: [ 460 ]
Those rare and solitarie, these in flocks
Pasturing at once, and in broad Herds upsprung.
The grassie Clods now Calv’d, now half appeer’d
The Tawnie Lion, pawing to get free
His hinder parts, then springs as broke from Bonds, [ 465 ]
And Rampant shakes his Brinded main; the Ounce,
The Libbard, and the Tyger, as the Moale
Rising, the crumbl’d Earth above them threw
In Hillocks; the swift Stag from under ground
Bore up his branching head: scarse from his mould [ 470 ]
Behemoth biggest born of Earth upheav’d
His vastness: Fleec’t the Flocks and bleating rose,
As Plants: ambiguous between Sea and Land
The River Horse and scalie Crocodile.
(451-474)

The most I see though is in Eve. While Adam is sitting and listening to Raphael like a little kid at storytime, Eve chooses that she would rather have the experience of sharing information with Adam. Also, while the temptation of Eve does not have a happy ending, actually her basically saying “Don’t worry, I’ll go off by myself, it’ll be fine,” is kinda like the last words of a character in a horror movie before wandering into the dark alone, but the fact is she shows more free will than Adam does. Milton shows us in Areopagytica that without temptation there is no virtue. Adam wants for him and Eve to stick together in hopes of avoiding temptation, but Eve wants to face the temptation head on. If not necessarily empowerment, it does show a fair bit of courage on Eve’s part to hear that the Adversary is seeking to tempt her, but she chooses to face it rather than try to hide. For courage is not the absence of fear, but being afraid and facing it anyway.

Frankenstein’s Adam

I think I may have said this in a previous post, but one of my favorite quotes is from Luciano De Crescenzo, “We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.”  Now, I will admit to being a hopeless romantic, one of my favorite films is Pride and Predjudice.  As such, I’ve always found the quote to be a romantic one, encouraging partnership.  So then reading through Book 8 I found an interesting parallel to some of the lines in the poem.  “In solitude what happiness, who can enjoy alone, or all enjoying, what contentment find? (364-366).”  Now, I am also an old, anti-social, curmudgeon.  I live in the woods, I generally prefer to work alone, and I spend most of my time with my headphones in as a sign of “don’t talk to me.”  That having been said, I will agree that a lot of things, when done with the right people, are a lot more fun than when done alone.  Life is social, we are not meant to spend our whole life alone, hiding from each other in our little caves, no matter how comfortable it is in there, with our black out curtains, and our comfortable couches, and no requirement to wear pants… wait… that analogy got away from me, let me try another approach.

Adam’s desire for a partner and mate, makes me think of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  Adam is like the monster, given life and experiencing a world full of life and wonder, but there is nothing in the world like him, no one who can be his partner.  So he goes to his creator and asks for a partner.

“You must create a female for me with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. This you alone can do, and I demand it of you as a right which you must not refuse to concede.” (17.2)

“Of fellowship I speak Such as I seek, fit to participate [ 390 ] All rational delight, wherein the brute Cannot be human consort; they rejoyce Each with thir kinde, Lion with Lioness; So fitly them in pairs thou hast combin’d; Much less can Bird with Beast, or Fish with Fowle [ 395 ] So well converse, nor with the Ox the Ape;Wors then can Man with Beast, and least of all. (389-397)”

 

Deconstruction

In an effort to trick myself into feeling clever for just a few moments, I like to try and find different meanings beyond the obvious in things that I read/watch/listen to etc.  It’s not a perfect system, most people can come up with a cleverer explanation and then tell me at great lengths why I am wrong, but then what is?  This, as I learned from my Engl 311 course follows the line of thinking for Deconstructionist literary theory.  The basics of Deconstructionism is that different people can get different interpretations, based upon their own personal beliefs and biases, and no interpretation is wrong so long as it can potentially be supported by the literature.  It is very similar to Reader Response literary theory, though shame on me for trying to define Deconstructionism, as defining it misses the point.

What I am trying to get at, in my own long-winded way, is that I have to wonder Milton’s view on Deconstructionism.  I imagine he would support the theory, if not at least find it intriguing.  It is my understanding that Milton believed people could come up with different interpretations and different ideas from the same source of inspiration.  Also, analysis is in it’s way a creative process, and with Milton being so supportive of creativity, I’d think he would support people coming up with new and creative interpretations of his work.  Might be one of those interesting questions to ask Milton in the afterlife.  Though I have to imagine that with so many people wanting to ask him things such as “Who were you referring to in Sonnet 23,” “is there a correlation between you thinking that the ‘false gods’ were simply a part of God as a whole, and them being former angels who fell from grace,” and “where did you get that magnificent neck ruffle,” that the guy is going to be quite busy.  But then, maybe that is just my interpretation of it.

 

Also, to anyone who looked up Milton’s Reformed Animals, is anyone else here disappointed there was entry for the platypus?

Milton’s Angelic Hierarchy

So, I’ve been a little curious how Milton has arranged the hierarchy of the angels in Paradise Lost, specifically Satan’s position within said hierarchy.  There are several indications that Milton is aware of the different forms of angels, though it appears a little different in it’s organization from the established model.

First Sphere-

  • Seraphim- God’s personal attendants
  • Cherubim- Assigned to protect special places (example: the Tree of Life)
  • Thrones- Living symbols of God’s authority

Second Sphere-

  • Dominions- Govern the lower angels
  • Virtues- Run the operation of the universe
  • Powers- Govern the natural order. Also, warriors fighting evil spirits

Third Sphere-

  • Principalities- Protectors of nations, groups, and institutions
  • Archangels- Leaders assigned to carry out God’s will
  • Angels- Messengers and envoys

Satan is described as having been first amongst God’s angels, so he would be among the Seraphim then, or was he something more?  In Book 4 we see how Satan looks down on Ithuriel and Zephon, Cherubim who were assigned to protect Paradise, and calls them so they would only be a step down from top celestial beings, and he calls them “The lowest of your throng (Book 4 831).”  He also says, “If I must contend, said he, best with the best, the sender not the sent, or all at once; more glorie will be won, or less be lost (851-854).”  So he wishes to contend with the Cherubim’s leader, who we see is Gabriel, and Archangel.  But the Archangel is several steps beneath a Cherubim.  I wonder if this is Satan’s pride kicking in, saying he would rather deal with a fighter angel?  Or am I just reading into this too much?  I doubt Milton would just bandy about with the hierarchy since he has claimed, and written essays in defense of his claim to be a theological authority.

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