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It uses the story and idea of the Fall as a way in which make this point: If every action which is good, or evill in man at ripe years, were to be under pittance, and prescription, and compulsion, what were vertue but a name, what praise could be then due to well-doing, what grammercy to be sober, just or continent? Wherefore did he creat passions within us, pleasures round about us, but that these rightly temper'd are the very ingredients of vertu?

In the pamphlet itself, this point serves to demonstrate why books should not be censored before they are published: censorship, Milton argues, denies readers their natural freedom to choose between what is good and what is bad.

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But this passage also provides a significant precedent for the defence of free will that is found in Paradise Lost. Both argue, in different ways, that temptation should be sought out rather than avoided because it provides the opportunity for the exercise of virtuous self- control.

Just because Adam and Eve surrender to their temptation does not mean that those who come after them will never be capable of resisting evil. Preview of Next Module This module marks the conclusion of the first part of the course. In the next two modules my discussion will move onto the considering how Paradise Lost reflects various controversial seventeenth-century religious issues.

Paradise Lost, Politics and Doctrine in Seventeenth-Century England Up until now this course has focused solely on the various literary strategies employed in Paradise Lost to give a full account of the Fall in all its complexity. But the poem was not composed or published in isolation. When compared to other literary and theological works of seventeenth-century England, its representation of the Fall as both story and idea reads as radically distinctive.

Paradise Lost Quotes

The first readers of Paradise Lost did not approach it as a sacrosanct literary classic, like many do today. However, the tangible anxiety in this quotation shows how the first readers of Paradise Lost read the poem as a statement speaking to their own context, made by a famously eloquent author associated with notorious causes like liberty to divorce, religious toleration, and the end of monarchy in England. There is a controversial aspect to the theology articulated in Paradise Lost. Many educated mid-seventeenth-century readers would have judged parts of the poem to be dangerously unsound. That is to say, they are contrary to the official doctrines of the mainstream Protestant English Churches in this period.

In this context, using serious, complicated poetry written for a small and well-educated readership to articulate heretical doctrine was an effective means of avoiding punishment.

Return To Paradise

The role of free will was a very controversial theological issue in England throughout the seventeenth century. To describe this division in the terminology of the times, the variety of theology that considers the will to be corrupt is Calvinist, whereas Paradise Lost articulates an Arminian theology. Calvinism is a school of theological thought based on the writing of the Protestant French reformer John Calvin, who lived between and One of its central tenets is double predestination.

This is the belief that God, who has foreseen all things, has determined the eternal destiny of every human being. Whilst this theological argument between Arminianism and Calvinism might seem overly technical and abstract, it had broader repercussions in seventeenth-century English society.

The unfinished Latin theological treatise that he wrote, called De Doctrina Christiana, was firmly Arminian in its summary of the means of salvation. Paradise Lost continues in this firm conviction. They therefore as to right belonged, So were created, nor can justly accuse Their Maker, or their making, or their fate; As if predestination overruled Their will, disposed by absolute decree Or high foreknowledge; they themselves decreed Their own revolt, not I: if I foreknew, Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault, Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.

Just because God has foreknowledge that Adam and Eve will fall, does not mean he is the cause for their Fall. Calvinist predestination, according to Paradise Lost, renders human beings incapable of doing good and irresponsible for their sins. However, this detail should not provoke further hunting through the lines of Paradise Lost for minor infractions of orthodox Christian doctrine.

Preview of Next Module The next module, which is also the final one of this course, will continue to look at the religious aspect of Paradise Lost in its historical context. Moving on from issues of heresy, it will consider how the poem involves itself in the church politics of Restoration England as a dissenting voice. In , after the ten years of alternative government that followed the execution of King Charles I in , England returned to being a monarchy. Charles II was proclaimed King, and shortly after the Church of England was re-established as Anglican, with the power and authority that it had held prior to the Civil War.

The laws of Restoration England rewarded those who conformed to the new political and ecclesiastical regime. Those who did not conform, for whatever reason, were cast into a position of dissent. Those who had fought against monarchy and the established Church during the Civil War were persecuted mercilessly.

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And those who refused to worship according to the Anglican rites of the Church of England were liable to fines and imprisonment. Conforming to the new regime would have been anathema to Milton, as it was in contradiction to his firm belief that obedience should not be forced.

However, expressing dissent in this new context was fraught with danger. Abdiel is a literary invention unique to Paradise Lost; there is no angel of that name in scripture. But the poem is also seeking to empower dissenting readers who had to choose between obeying God and facing persecution, or conforming to the self-worshipping practices of the majority. After the Fall, the almighty Father sends the Archangel Michael to lecture Adam on what will become of humanity now that it is subject to death.

But for Michael this state of affairs is not a cause for despair. Course Conclusion At the beginning of this course I said that Paradise Lost wants to have an argument about religion its readers. It accommodates a variety of perspectives and ideas within its argument, whether through an at-times sympathetic Satan or a reasoning, intelligent Eve, or any number of other complex characters. It is at times controversial, at times exciting, and at other times downright chilling.

Paradise Lost expects its readers to approach its great argument through the exercise their own free will and knowledge: it admits reasoned dissent to its argument, but it cannot accept irrational, ill-thought out responses. Readers feel what they believe the characters are feeling. When Satan says, "Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen," [36] readers genuinely take his strife to be their own. Although some readers may share values, principles, or concepts with a given character , I emphasize emotion as that which transcends socially- and historically-situated boundaries: emotional honesty--be it the reader's own, the character's own, or the dialogic exchange between reader and character--enables psychologically authentic identification between fellows.

In Kristeva's terms, Paradise Lost is a powerful genotext articulated as a phenotext , making the dialogic process what D.

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Lawrence puts as a passionate struggle into consciousness. The text bespeaks an ontological experience, accustoming readers to an inner world through prosodic repetitions with nuances of expression.

The opened mind of the reader rotates images from the image-repertoire, gathering associations from past contacts and comparisons. As the metaphor of "the hell within him, for within him hell" indicates, this type of thinking is teleological, yet free of preconceptions. It may comprise a "curve of return" [38] to other cultures and modes of living and writing, leading to identification and transformation in the present.

The perceptible conditions of Hell, Heaven, and Eden are integral to the beings that inhabit them, but the inhabitants interact with and shape their environments, creating societies in their own images. The dialectical contact with earlier societies generates new or revolutionary thinking. Here Paradise Lost proves that human emotions such as disgust, loss, and betrayal share a certain timelessness and can be found anyplace, regardless of class, time period, or culture.

Empathy personal knowing at its apex involves at least two people for it's a dialogue not a monologue in an unobstructed relationship, free of psychic scars and emotional baggage. The walking wounded, generally speaking, have a hard time with the empathic process while emotionally honest readers do not.

David A. Stewart argues, "the basic concept [in empathy] is person , not mind, not body, not mental states, not sense data. Thus any personal experience that I witness is an expression of the person, an expression in which the whole person makes himself known to me. Satan's ugliness is a personal ugliness.

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Paradise Lost Quotes (39 quotes)

Satan, all of him, lies within that ugliness. And this ugliness becomes expressive of everything he does. He knows it will not prove fruitful and in his desperate, malformed expression of profound disgust for himself readers remember--and resent--their own desperate cries in an attempt to capitalize on an emotionally potent moment of empathy.

A theme expressed very often by writers throughout history is connection to one's fellow man. This feeling of connection must be strong for those brave souls who wish to abandon the Church of England and start a new life via Milton's Puritan ideal. Many people must be willing to sacrifice nearly everything they have for the possibility of a new way of life. This sense of connection between people of the seventeenth century would need be strong because they are venturing out into new spiritual territory, and in such a case, it's human nature to be drawn to those like yourself.

This security could have been found by knowing that there were others venturing out into the same unknown territory, although now God could be found within each person individually, through grace, and a sense of community inevitably emerged. The sense of security generated by having others pursue the same path helped create a strong emotional bond among them. And the transfer of power to the individual creates a united front of stronger individuals against the status quo.

Empathy, then, holds an almost incontestable heuristic authority. The very faculty for apprehending the universality of Satan's psychological tribulation lies within each reader. Hence, emotion serves as an instance of cross-cultural and cross-historical continuity and as the means of apprehending and incorporating its own unifying structure.


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Book IX reveals Satan's resentment has reached its utmost low: Why then was this forbid? Why but to awe, Why but to keep ye low and ignorant, His worshippers. He knows that in the day Ye eat thereof your eyes, that seem so clear Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then Opened and cleared, and ye shall be as gods, Knowing both good and evil as they know. That ye should be as gods since I as man, Internal man, is but proportion meet: I of brute, human; ye of human, gods.

Satan sits enervated, cast like a stone with no hope for redemption. For the reader, however, the strength gained from empathy is pure, in it lies the toolset of a counter-hegemonic movement. For counter-hegemony to work, though, organization is required; it's now up to the dissenting populace to initiate a series of events, to make changes to the domineering system, and to create an identity separate from the pervasive hegemonic mores of the seventeenth century.

Milton's account of Satan puts a complex series of observations into focus. According to Heidegger, "the artist remains inconsequential as compared with the work, almost like a passageway that destroys itself in the creative process for the work to emerge. Milton made an example of Satan; he was too far gone for redemption. Milton's work sculpts the psyche of the subjugated public, however, for a paradigm shift. Here's the push from Milton: seventeenth century readers will forget that they have failed time and time again, and will try once more as if subjugation never happened.

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In this way they strive to the conviction that there are infinite sources of strength from which they may draw. Again and again they will aspire to grace, which will lift them up and carry them onwards. And for this nudge to see fruition, the people must become capable of living into the future and not let hegemonic England displace their striving.

The capacities by which a people gains freedom from bondage lie dormant within each and every one of us. Only a people who have passed through the gate of disgrace can fully ascend to the heights of liberation. Notes [1] Many modern critics suggest a general interpretive matrix that embraces most of Milton's poetic corpus in a coherent rather than exhaustive vision. Michael and his angels fought against the Dragon, and the Dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not. Neither was their place found anymore in Heaven.