Milton and the English Revelation Part I: Freedom, Deception, & Disguise Melissa Brotton, MS, Ph.D. Department of English and Communication La Sierra University Milton and The English Revolution (1979) The Century of Revolution, 1603- 1714 (1961, 1980) Society and Puritanism in Prerevolutionary England (1964) The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution (1972) Puritanism & Revolution: The English Revolution of the 17th Century: Studies in Interpretation of the English Revolution of the 17th Century (1958) Christopher Hill 1912-2003 Leading Historian of 17th Century England Poet-Prophet Motif Biblical Tradition To receive and to give a sacred message through language that illumined and stirred the mind, heart, and spirit The poets were God’s last prophets English Poet-Prophets since Milton Blake Wordsworth Byron (in reverse) Shelley Elizabeth Barrett Browning W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot The choice to study Milton Academy Experience of reading Paradise Lost Personal Spiritual Revival Understanding Milton through Adventist doctrine Parallels between Milton and Ellen White Parallels between Milton and Elizabeth Barrett Browning Connections with the Romantic Period Experience with Professors Desire for a challenge – Lycidas Charming Cottages Idyllic Pastures Villages and Shires Farmers and Peddlars Transportation by horse and carriage Death of Shakespeare (1616) King James Version (1611) Baroque Music (Gesualdo, Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Corelli, Vivaldi, Purcell, Scarlatti) Plague (1665) The Great Fire (1666) The Great Fire of London in 1666, Lieve Verschuier Rise in Puritan state 1640 power Regicide of Charles I 1648 Commonwealth 1649 Death of Oliver 1658 Cromwell and Weakened Government Restoration of throne to 1660 Charles II Milton loved having house guests He would have warmly invited you into his parlour, Asked you to sit down and stay to dinner, Asked you if you might take down a few lines . . . Milton’s Cottage home in Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire Come, and trip it as ye go On the light fantastic toe, And in thy right hand lead with thee, The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty; And if I give thee honour due, Mirth, admit me of thy crew To live with her and live with thee, In unreprovèd pleasures free . . . . (L’Allegro 33-40) The Lady of Christ’s College Born in London (1608) Became completely blind Entered St. Paul’s (1620) Lost first wife & son 1652 Began composing poems Married Katharine Matriculated at Cambridge Woodcock 1656 Spent his post-grad years Lost second wife & studying & writing poetry daughter 1658 Began private teaching Imprisoned 1660 career 1639 Married Elizabeth First political tracts (1641) Minshull Married Mary Powell Publishes Paradise Lost (1642) 1667 Poetical & Political Career Died 1674 Early Poetry Mid-Life Poetry At a Solemn Music The Sonnets Comus Pastoral Play Lycidas Elegy Mid-Life Political Work L’Allegro (Cheerful) Areopagitica Il Pensoroso ( Contemplative) The Tenure of Kings & Magistrates Early Political Works Divorce Tracts Late-Life Work Anti-Prelatical Tracts Paradise Lost Paradise Regained Samson Agonistes 1643 Parliament orders book licensing in a form Milton found intolerant. Under the new order, no book was to be printed that contained forged, slanderous, scandalous, seditious, libelous, or anti-establishmentarian information. Areopagitica, Pamphlet title page Many of Milton’s statements in Areopagitica formed the foundation for the First Amendment. Four Main Arguments against censorship (Michael Bryson, California State University, Northridge) The Catholic Church is the inventor of book licensing. Reading is a necessary acquisition of good and evil in a fallen world. The order was ineffectual in suppressing "scandalous, seditious, and libelous books.” The order will discourage learning and the pursuit of truth. Many there be that complain of divine Providence for suffering Adam to transgress. Foolish tongues! When God gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is but choosing; he had been else a mere artificial Adam, such an Adam as he is in the motions. We ourselves esteem not of that obedience, or love, or gift, which is of force: God therefore left him free, set before him a provoking object ever almost in his eyes; herein consisted his merit, herein the right of his reward, the praise of his abstinence. (John Milton, Areopagitica, 1643) There are thousands today echoing the same rebellious complaint against God. They do not see that to deprive man of the freedom of choice would be to rob him of his prerogative as an intelligent being and make him a mere automaton. It is not God’s purpose to coerce the will. Man was created a free moral agent. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, 331). 1890. Importance of intellectual diversity Complex and necessary interplay between good and evil in a fallen world –knowing good by evil The importance of even wrong ideas The educated prophets of the Bible, Moses, Daniel, and Paul “were skillful in all the learning of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Greeks” and that Paul “thought it no defilement to insert into Holy Scripture the sentences of three Greek poets, and one of them a tragedian” (Milton, Areopagitica, 1643) But if they be of those whom God hath fitted for the special use of these times with eminent and ample gifts, and those perhaps neither among the priests nor among the pharisees, and we in the haste of a precipitant zeal shall make no distinction, but resolve to stop their mouths, because we fear they come with new and dangerous opinions, as we commonly forejudge them ere we understand them; no less than woe to us, while thinking thus to defend the Gospel, we are found the persecutors. (Milton, Areopagtica) Good and evil we know in the field of this world grow up together almost inseparably; and the knowledge of good is so involved and interwoven with the knowledge of evil, and in so many cunning resemblances hardly to be discerned, that those confused seeds which were imposed upon Psyche as an incessant labour to cull out and sort asunder, were not more intermixed. It was from out the rind of one apple tasted that the knowledge of good and evil, as two twins cleaving together, leaped forth into the world. And perhaps this is that doom which Adam fell into of knowing good and evil, that is to say of knowing good by evil. (Milton, Areopagitica) If we think to regulate printing, thereby to rectify manners, we must regulate all recreations and pastimes, all that is delightful to man. No music must be heard, no song be set or sung, but what is grave and Doric. There must be licensing of dancers, that no gesture, motion, or deportment be taught our youth, but what by their allowance shall be thought honest; for such Plato was provided of. It will ask more than the work of twenty licensers to examine all the lutes, the violins, and the guitars in every house; they must not be suffered to prattle as they do, but must be licensed what they may say. And who shall silence all the airs and madrigals that whisper softness in chambers? The windows also, and the balconies, must be thought on; there are shrewd books, with dangerous frontispieces, set to sale: who shall prohibit them, shall twenty licensers? For who knows not that Truth is strong next to the Almighty? She needs no policies, nor stratagems, nor licensings to make her victorious; those are the shifts and the defences that error uses against her power: give her but room, and do not bind her when she sleeps, for then she speaks not true, as the old Proteus did, who spake oracles only when he was caught and bound, but then rather she turns herself into all shapes except her own and perhaps tunes her voice according to the time, as Micaiah did before Ahab, until she be adjured into her own likeness. Who knows how truth will take its shape in any given time or situation? Truth takes many shapes, according to what is needed. Might not Truth even take the shape of a lie, like it did in a classical as well as a Biblical story we know. A sea deity His name means “first- born” “The old Man of the Sea” (Homer, “The Odyssey”) He can answer questions, but you have to capture him and hold on because he changes shape to avoid telling the future. King Ahab, at the bidding of King Jeshoshaphat, called his prophets together to determine whether or not he should go to war against the king of Syria in order to take back Ramoth-gilead. He gathers all of his prophets together to inquire – all his prophets, that is, except for one. . . . Ahab Warned by Michaiah. Ultimate Bible Picture Collection. Web. Biblios. Ahab’s courtroom Ahab: Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain? The Prophets: Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.’ Jehoshaphat: Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire? Ahab: There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah, the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but only evil. Messenger: Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably. Micaiah: As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak. Narrator: And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, Ahab: Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain? Micaiah: Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king. Narrator: But the king said to him, Ahab: How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord? Micaiah: I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, “These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.” Narrator: And the king of Israel said to Jehoshephat, Ahab: Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?’” Micaiah: Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the hosts of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said . . . The Lord: Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead Micaiah: And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, Spirit: I will entice him. The Lord: By what means? Spirit: I will go out and will be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets. The Lord: You are to entice him, and you shall succeed: go out, and do so. Micaiah: Now, therefore, behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you. Narrator: After hearing the warning, Ahab had Micaiah imprisoned. He then went to battle and was wounded in a strange way. A stray arrow found its way into a small space between his scale armor and his breastplate. 33 And the battle continued that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died. And the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot. 36 And about sunset a cry went through the army Army: Every man to his city, and every man to his country. Truth can take a variety of shapes, even the shape of a lie; therefore freedom to print unlicensed books is all the more important because what we may think of as a lie may actually be Truth in disguise. Even if what we read is evil or erroneous, God can still bring blessing out of it. Milton’s argument that God can use a lie to bring about truth is related to an idea we will see in Paradise Lost, the doctrine of the fortunate fall. Might not it be harder to disentangle truth from lies than we realize? Adam and Eve by Titan Deciding on a story . . . Milton’s early emphasis on freedom of thought to flourish unrestricted so that truth could come out appears in his epic, Paradise Lost. Milton’s decision to write a story based on the fall of man rested on a human dilemma, or paradox. Poetic narrative of Scripture with details extending from Genesis through Revelation Reveals the cosmic conflict, specifically, Satan’s rebellion, as the source of human suffering More on Milton’s purpose to come Satan Cast out of Heaven, Gustave Doré Narrative: story, history, a series of related events Drama: performed story, staged or screened, Epic: A long poem depicting a story about a hero’s action(s) Tragicomedy: A story having the elements of hero downfall and uplift Movement/Plot Elevated language Chronology “The content of language” Characterization (Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook, 3) Sense of expectation Encrypted meanings Point-of-view Symbolic meanings Imagery Comparative structures Metered Lines Form Variety/Conventions Performance Stage Effects Scenes Characterization Audience Distance Collapse of time and space between audience and stage through suspension of disbelief Satan Satan’s hosts Sin and Death The Father The Son Angels, principally Abdiel, Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel Adam Eve The Serpent You 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. . . . So stretched out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay Chained on the burning lake. . . . (Bk. 1) Gustave Doré In Book III Satan travels from Pandaemonioum through space after spawning Sin and Death back to the gates of Heaven. He passes through Chaos and “the Limbo of Vanity” on his way. Next he flies to the sun and finds Uriel, “regent of that orb.” He disguises himself as a holy angel, wishing to know the way to the new world and the man God has placed there. Uriel is at first deceived and instructs him how to get there ... One gate there only was, and that looked east On th’ other side; which when th’ Arch-felon saw Due entrance he disdained, and in contempt, At one slight bound high overleaped all bound Of hill or highest wall, and sheer within Lights on his feet. As when a prowling wolf, Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey, Watching where shepherds pen their flocks at eve In hurdled cotes amid the field secure, Leaps o’er the fence with ease into the fold: Or as a thief bent to unhoard the cash Of some rich burgher, whose substantial doors, Cross-barred and bolted fast, fear no assault, In at the window climbs, or o’er the tiles; So clomb this first grand thief into God’s fold: So since into his Church lewd hirelings climb. Thence up he flew, and on the Tree of Life, The middle tree and highest there that grew, Sat like a cormorant; yet not true life Thereby regained, but sat devising death To them who lived; no on the virtue thought Of that life-giving plant, but only used For prospect, what well used had been the pledge Of immortality. (Bk. 4. 178-201) O Hell! What do my eyes with grief behold, Into our room of bliss thus high advanced Creatures of other mould, earth-born perhaps, Not Spirits, yet to Heav’nly Spirits bright Little inferior; whom my thoughts pursue With wonder, and could love, so lively shines In them divine resemblance, and such grace The hand that formed them on their shape hath poured. Ah gentle pair, ye little think how nigh Your change approaches, when all those delights Will vanish and deliver ye to woe, More woe, the more your taste is now of joy (358-69). Then from his lofty stand on that high tree Down he alights among the sportful herd Of those four-footed kinds, himself now one, Now other, as their shape served best his end Nearer to view his prey, and unespied To mark what of their state he more might learn By word or action marked; about them round A lion now he stalks with fiery glare, Then as a tiger, who by chance hath spied In some purlieu two gentle fawns at play, Straight couches close, then rising changes oft His couchant watch, as one who chose his ground Whence rushing he might surest seize them both Gripped in each paw: when Adam first of men To first of women Eve thus moving speech, Turned him all ear to hear new utterance flow. (395-410) Gabriel Speaks: Ithuriel and Zephon, with winged speed Search through this garden, leave unsearched no nook, But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge, Now laid perhaps asleep secure of harm. This ev’ning from the sun’s decline arrived Who tells of some infernal Spirit seen Hitherward bent (who could have thought?) escaped The bars of Hell, on errand bad no doubt: Such where ye find, seize fast, and hither bring. (782-87) So saying, on he led his radiant files, Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct In search of they sought: him there they found Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve; Assaying by his devilish art to reach The organs of her Fancy, and with them forge Illusions as he list, phantasms and dreams, Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint Th’ animal spirits that from pure blood arise Like gentle breaths from rivers pure, thence raise At least distempered, discontented thoughts, Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires Blown up with high conceits engend’ring pride. (797-809) So spake the Enemy of mankind, enclosed In serpent, inmate bad, and toward Eve Addressed his way, not with indented wave, Prone on the ground, as since, but on his rear, Circular base of rising folds, that tow’red Fold above fold, a surging maze, his head Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes: With burnished neck of verdant gold, erect Amidst his circling spires, that on the grass Floated redundant: pleasing was his shape, And lovely, never since of serpent kind Lovelier. . . . With tract oblique At first, as one who sought accéss, but feared To interrupt, sidelong he works his way. (Bk. IX.494-512) . . . .when contrary he hears On all sides, from innumerable tongues A dismal universal hiss, the sound Of public scorn; he wondered, but not long Had leisure, wond’ring at himself now more; His visage drawn he felt to sharp and spare, His arms clung to his ribs, his legs entwining Each other, till supplanted down he fell A monstrous serpent on his belly prone, Reluctant, but in vain; a greater power Now ruled him, punished in the shape he sinned, According to his doom: he would have spoke, But hiss for hiss returned with forkèd tongue To forkèd tongue, for now were all transformed Alike, to serpents all as áccessóries To his bold riot: . . .(Bk. 10. 506-20) . . . dreadful was the din Of hissing through the hall, thick swarming now With complicated monsters, head and tail, Scorpion and asp, and amphisbaena dire, Cerastes horned, hydrus, and ellops drear, And dipsas (not so thick swarmed once the soil Bedropped with blood of Gorgon, or the isle Ophiusa); but still the greatest he the midst, Now dragon grown, larger than whom the sun Engendered in the Pythian vale on slime, Huge Python, and his power no less he seemed Above the rest still to retain; they all Him followed issuing forth to the open field (Bk 10.521-533) There stood A grove nearby , sprung up with this their change, His will who reigns above, to aggravate Their penance, laden with fair fruit like that Which grew in Paradise, the bait of Eve Used by the Tempter: on that prospect strange Their earnest eyes they fixed, imagining For one forbidden tree a multitude Now ris’n, to work them further woe or shame; Yet parched with scalding thirst and hunger fierce, Though to delude them sent, could not abstain, But on they rolled in heaps, and up the trees Climbing, sat thicker than the snaky locks That curled Megaera: greedily they plucked The fruitage fair to sight, like that which grew Near that bituminous lake where Sodom flamed; This more delusive, not the touch, but taste With spattering noise rejected: oft they assayed, Hunger and thirst constraining, drugged as oft, With hatefullest disrelish writhed their jaws With soot and cinder filled; so oft they fell Into the same illusion, not as man Whom they triúmphed once lapsed. Thus were they plagued And worn with famine, long and ceaseless hiss, Till their lost shape, permitted, they resumed, Yearly enjoined, some say, to undergo This annual humbling certain numbered days, To dash their pride, and joy for man seduced.
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