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Paradise Lost: Bk IV 
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Main impression of book IV: Wow, that is a rousing endorsement for sexual pleasure -- I see a problem with this story. With all that God sanctioned sex going on why would Eve even bother with the apple? :laugh2:

Saffron

p.s. To DWill's idea for a movie -- I'm thinking XXX rated!



Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:35 am
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Post Re: PL Bk. lV Satan's human traits not necessarily bad?
Robert Tulip wrote:
A good example of a Satanic figure fawning over power is Rasputin, who might be a good model for Satan in the film. The point is that flattery is part of the armory of the devil, and would hardly be a topic that other devils would raise to chide Satan, who is after all the father of lies. Satan might vaporise a devil who criticised him in the way you suggest, following the Stalinist dictum 'no man no problem'. It goes without question that Satan would use every trick in the book to scheme and lie his way to the top, maybe a bit like Shakespeare's Richard the Third

My argument about Milton's portrayal of Satan is based on the difference between what he shows us, through Satan in action and speech, vs. what he tells us about him in an attempt to manage our perceptions. His problem reminds me a little of what Homer would have had to do if Hector had to somehow be made out as a bad guy as well an acknowledged mighty warrior. I don't think that the achetypal behavior of devils or satanic figures has a bearing on what this individuated character may do behind the scenes in the poem. I still find that the weight of this character's words and his reputation with the fallen angels makes unlikely that he in fact grovelled before God. He soliloquizes, "I sdein'd subjection (IV, 50) and says "is there no place /Left for repentence, none for pardon left?/None left but by submission; and that word/Disdain forbids me: (IV, 78-82).

The comparison with Richard III is partly accurate; so is a comparison with Iago, with his "motiveless malignancy." Like Richard III, Satan is a poet, but of course he has grandeur where Richard (and Iago) have none. I assume that Milton's portrait of Satan owed a great deal to his reading of Shakespeare's tragedies and histories.
Quote:
Bill, surely it is problematic to find grandeur in evil? The real grandeur is in accord with God, presented as the evolutionary path to escape human collapse. For example, the God of the Sermon on the Mount is not someone that 'anyone might want to rebel against'.

Well, I'm trying as much as possible to see the poem in its context, without bringing in values such as you mention. Satan and God are characters in the poem; it's not necessary to attach them to other traditions, beliefs, or texts when viewing their roles in the drama. The evil that Satan represents to you comes largely from Christian belief, and it seems to me that if one doesn't have those beliefs, Satan's evilness becomes a much less serious matter. We can then view the action of PL as mythical from the detached standpoint that we might view Greek or Norse myths, even though we may find it a more profound parable of the human condition. If we don't take this story in any way literally, and we don't belive in the existence of Satan or of a superintending God, we are not finding grandeur in evil if we appraise some positive qualities in Satan. His main evil in the poem is to try to overthrow God and to then subvert humanity, neither of which need to worry us. No, that is not the profile of a good guy, but we often have some admiration for the colorful villains in fiction. And sometimes these villains are not painted in black and white. I would say that is the case with Satan.
Quote:
Yes indeed, it demonstrates Milton's deep misogyny. Western Christendom assumed the split between nature and spirit in a way that I would say reflected its fallen position rather than a coherent ontology. Christ is about reconciling nature and spirit, whereas the caricature of Eve as a creature of dumb matter has been the basis of sexism. Iinto western thought.

Here, I was bringing in an element from the outside, that is from another text. Milton had no choice but to use the Bible's account of Eve's creation, but I suppose you're right that he does have the choice of whether to portray Ee as inferior as a result of this origin. I think, though, that in having Adam share responsibility for the Fall, Milton is less hard on Eve than tradition has been.


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Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:40 pm
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Book IV so far is my favorite chapter in PL. It has the most action and "drama" I suppose. :)

DWill said:

Quote:
Satan's speech in this section went a long way toward creating the view of him as a type of tragic hero, the villain who confronted his own evil nature. He also seems a bit like Prometheus in struggling against God. Of course, this view can be called a misreading, but it is partly understandable through Satan's eloquence and his honest emotional struggle with what he, unable to will it otherwise, is. It is also understandable in relation to the character of God. We as readers also might feel like rebelling against such a fellow. We also can see in Satan how powerful for Milton was the idea of the inner Hell. He didn't deny that Hell was a physical place, but his imagination is more inspired by Hell as a condition of inner torment one suffers from.



I really like your thoughts on Satan, DWill. I think that comparing him with Macbeth is right on. I really like the character of Satan because he is so human as Mary Lupin has said. I do not agree that Satan cannot escape from a written in stone fate, however. I love this scene in Book IV:

Quote:
..abash'd the Devil stood,
And felt how awful goodness is, and saw
Virtue in her shape how lovely; saw, and pin'd
His loss: but chiefly to find her observ'd
His lustre visibly impair'd: yet seem'd
Undaunted. If I must contend, said he,
Best with the best, the sender not the sent,
Or all at once; more glory will be won,
Or less lost."


This scene shows choice, and he chooses his lust for power. It is a fantastic dramatic moment! :) And it is very human. I think that we make choices like this all of the time.

I do not really see the God character as being very oppressive but so far I have only read up to chapter four so maybe that will change.

I think that Eve was probably a caricature of her time. I have read Gothic novels by Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe and the female characters in those books drove me nuts! They were so weak and whiny. And those authors were writing 100 years later than Milton.

My version of Paradise Lost refers in a footnote to Joseph Wittreich who argued that Satan saw the couple as unequal and that he was "obsessed with hierarchy". Basically, it was all Satan's perspective. However, I do not totally agree with this. There is an assumed heirarchy throughout Paradise Lost. There is a hierarchy between God and the Son, God and Satan, Satan and other angels, Angel and angel, husband and wife. The fact that God and Satan are both male demonstrate heirarchy between men and women. This was an unfortunate norm of Milton's time and to a certain extent is a human trait.

I kind of like this line:

Quote:
"Straight side by side were laid: nor turn'd, I ween
Adam from his fair spouse; nor Eve the rites of
Mysterious of connubial love refus'd."


Do you think that "connubial love refus'd" is something that happened to Milton often that he would have to make a note of it? :laugh:



Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:27 am
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seespotrun2008 wrote:

Quote:
..abash'd the Devil stood,
And felt how awful goodness is, and saw
Virtue in her shape how lovely; saw, and pin'd
His loss: but chiefly to find her observ'd
His lustre visibly impair'd: yet seem'd
Undaunted. If I must contend, said he,
Best with the best, the sender not the sent,
Or all at once; more glory will be won,
Or less lost."


This scene shows choice, and he chooses his lust for power. It is a fantastic dramatic moment! :) And it is very human. I think that we make choices like this all of the time.


certain extent is a human trait.

I kind of like this line:

Quote:
"Straight side by side were laid: nor turn'd, I ween
Adam from his fair spouse; nor Eve the rites of
Mysterious of connubial love refus'd."



Seespot: You picked 2 sets of lines that stood out to me too. I also agree that Satan is shown to be very human. It seems to me that he is almost seduced by the beauty of Eve or his own desire for her and then remembers his purpose.


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Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:19 pm
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Quote:
It seems to me that he is almost seduced by the beauty of Eve or his own desire for her and then remembers his purpose.


Hmmm. Something to contemplate. I had not really thought of this. I think Milton was a little obsessed with Eve himself. He keeps commenting on her nakedness.



Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:07 pm
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seespotrun2008 wrote:
Quote:
It seems to me that he is almost seduced by the beauty of Eve or his own desire for her and then remembers his purpose.


Hmmm. Something to contemplate. I had not really thought of this. I think Milton was a little obsessed with Eve himself. He keeps commenting on her nakedness.

:laugh2:


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Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:15 pm
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I see that my reply to seespotrun's very perceptive post was lost during the past few days' troubles. Oh well, rest assured that it was quite the insightful little post :?: I said something about Satan having moments of self-knowledge, when he recognizes his "oppositional" and bad nature, but that doesn't stop him from glorying in his ability to cause havoc. He's also not an unreflective bad guy, a quality that has to be seen as partly redeeming. He pities Adam and Eve for what he has to do to them. I also said that God is not oppressive, in any real sense; it's just his, well, personality that rubs many readers (incl. me) the wrong way.

In a separate post, I talked about Eden as a vision of unevolved life, and how the fall represents a fall onto an evolved world--the cruel world, of course, that caused the myth of Eden to be created in the first place.

I think we need some more juice to keep us going. Feel free to throw out your ideas/topics for discussion!


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Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:17 pm
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I guess I should give some time for replies, but I'm itchin' to move along.
On the topic of sexiness, yes, Milton is creating a pretty good visual. (Memo: someone buxom to play Eve in movie.)

So spake our general Mother, and with eyes
Of conjugal attraction unreprov'd,
And meek surrender, half imbracing leand
On our first Father, half her swelling Breast [ 495 ]
Naked met his under the flowing Gold
Of her loose tresses hid: he in delight
Both of her Beauty and submissive Charms
Smil'd with superior Love, as Jupiter
On Juno smiles, when he impregns the Clouds [ 500 ]
That shed May Flowers; and press'd her Matron lip
With kisses pure:

Satan finds his opening in the Tree of Kowledge, and though his purpose is entirely selfish, doesn't he ask a valid question?

One fatal Tree there stands of Knowledge call'd,
Forbidden them to taste: Knowledge forbidd'n? [ 515 ]
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should thir Lord
Envie them that? can it be sin to know,
Can it be death? and do they onely stand
By Ignorance, is that thir happie state,
The proof of thir obedience and thir faith? [ 520 ]
***********************
Hence I will excite thir minds
With more desire to know, and to reject
Envious commands, invented with designe
To keep them low whom knowledge might exalt [ 525 ]
Equal with Gods; aspiring to be such,
They taste and die: what likelier can ensue?

Part of the basis for the traditional belief in the Fortunate Fall is that, just as Satan says, to have knowledge, to be free to pursue it, is something we humans can't imagine being without. We had to leave Eden to get it.

In my textbook, I have penciled next to this next passage my prof.'s observation that in the lines we can see a "structural symmetry [that] reflects [the] order of prelapsarian Eden." I couldn't have said it better myself. They are beautiful lines and once again point out that J. Milton could flat out write.

My Author and Disposer, what thou bidst [ 635 ]
Unargu'd I obey; so God ordains,
God is thy Law, thou mine: to know no more
Is womans happiest knowledge and her praise
With thee conversing I forget all time,
All seasons and thir change, all please alike. [ 640 ]
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest Birds; pleasant the Sun
When first on this delightful Land he spreads
His orient Beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flour,
Glistring with dew; fragrant the fertil earth [ 645 ]
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful Eevning milde, then silent Night
With this her solemn Bird and this fair Moon,
And these the Gemms of Heav'n, her starrie train:
But neither breath of Morn when she ascends [ 650 ]
With charm of earliest Birds, nor rising Sun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, floure,
Glistring with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful Eevning mild, nor silent Night
With this her solemn Bird, nor walk by Moon, [ 655 ]
Or glittering Starr-light without thee is sweet.
But wherfore all night long shine these, for whom
This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes?

Of course,these lines serve to exalt Adam in Eve's eyes, as well as defining the order that God created as eternal, in which Eve comes in above the beasts, but a ways below Adam.

As a Protestant, Milton had a severe distaste for set rituals and words offered without sincere, original feeling. So after giving us Adam's paen to God, he remarks

This said unanimous, and other Rites
Observing none, but adoration pure
Which God likes best, into thir inmost bowre
Handed they went;

My prof also told us that throughout this book, Milton weaves a motif of the "handedness" of Adam and Eve. In a number of places, they are hand in hand, leading one another by the hand, etc. There seems to be no other purpose in this but to portray their deep love, and it truly is affecting. This handedness reappears in the very last, poignant lines of PL.

They hand in hand with wand'ring steps and slow
Through Eden took their solitary way

The rest of the book, from about l. 775, is the showdown between Satan and Gabriel.


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Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:02 pm
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DWill wrote:
I guess I should give some time for replies, but I'm itchin' to move along.
On the topic of sexiness, yes, Milton is creating a pretty good visual. (Memo: someone buxom to play Eve in movie.)


I think Eve should be played by a yet unknown nubile (and yes, DW, buxom) actress. That will put out most American actresses. How about Swedish born, Malin Akerman?

Quote:
Satan finds his opening in the Tree of Kowledge, and though his purpose is entirely selfish, doesn't he ask a valid question?

One fatal Tree there stands of Knowledge call'd,
Forbidden them to taste: Knowledge forbidd'n? [ 515 ]
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should thir Lord
Envie them that? can it be sin to know,
Can it be death? and do they onely stand
By Ignorance, is that thir happie state,
The proof of thir obedience and thir faith? [ 520 ]

Part of the basis for the traditional belief in the Fortunate Fall is that, just as Satan says, to have knowledge, to be free to pursue it, is something we humans can't imagine being without. We had to leave Eden to get it.


This is just a thought: Adam & Eve in their original state are as children. One of the first steps toward maturity is self awareness (nakedness) and the understanding of death. In order for Adam & Eve to become mature adults they must acquire knowledge.


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Sat Feb 14, 2009 3:22 pm
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Saffron wrote:
I think Eve should be played by a yet unknown nubile (and yes, DW, buxom) actress. That will put out most American actresses. How about Swedish born, Malin Akerman?

Hmmm...I'm not familiar with this actress. Are you sure I can't have Selma Hayek? Altough over 40, I think she can still handle it.
Quote:
One fatal Tree there stands of Knowledge call'd,
Forbidden them to taste: Knowledge forbidd'n? [ 515 ]
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should thir Lord
Envie them that? can it be sin to know,
Can it be death? and do they onely stand
By Ignorance, is that thir happie state,
The proof of thir obedience and thir faith? [ 520 ]

This is just a thought: Adam & Eve in their original state are as children. One of the first steps toward maturity is self awareness (nakedness) and the understanding of death. In order for Adam & Eve to become mature adults they must acquire knowledge.

Milton does his best to make Adam a fully cognizant man, learned in a way. But it isn't enough to erase the impression of naivete, innocence, and perhaps immaturity. So I think you're right that every person knows instinctively that Adam and Eve have something missing from them, something essentially human. That feeling adds to the appeal of the Fortunate Fall idea.


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No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:46 am
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DWill wrote:
Are you sure I can't have Selma Hayek? Altough over 40, I think she can still handle it.


Sure, why not, have Selma Hayek. Any chance we can bring back Gregory Peck for me?
:laugh:


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Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:26 am
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Saffron wrote:
DWill wrote:
Are you sure I can't have Selma Hayek? Altough over 40, I think she can still handle it.


Sure, why not, have Selma Hayek. Any chance we can bring back Gregory Peck for me?
:laugh:


Are you sure? Atticus Finch as Adam? Or did you mean Peck as God? No, of course not. That would entail bringing back Charlton Heston (or George Burns?)


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No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:27 pm
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DWill wrote:
Saffron wrote:
DWill wrote:
Are you sure I can't have Selma Hayek? Altough over 40, I think she can still handle it.


Sure, why not, have Selma Hayek. Any chance we can bring back Gregory Peck for me?
:laugh:


Are you sure? Atticus Finch as Adam? Or did you mean Peck as God? No, of course not. That would entail bringing back Charlton Heston (or George Burns?)


Oh no, I meant for me to have, seeing as you were going to have Selma (your own words).
:laugh:


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Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:43 pm
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I'd like to nominate Hugh Dancy to play Adam. I'm not sure he goes opposite Selma Hayek.

Image


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Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:00 pm
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And for Eve --

Image

Malin Akerman


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Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:08 pm
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