Milton, Paradise Lost

Books I (cont.) and II

Casuistry: analyse Satan's argument at II, 11-42:

Summary: Heaven is not lost to us: here our powers only shine the more. I am your leader by your consent, and surely no one will envy me that in Hell, unlike in Heaven; here with no good to strive for there can be no dissent. Unified as we are we will lay claim to Heaven, and now our debate is whether the war should be open or covert.

Wikipedia definition: Critics use the term pejoratively for the use of clever but unsound reasoning, especially in relation to moral questions (see sophistry). Casuistry is reasoning used to resolve moral problems by applying theoretical rules to particular instances.

It is often a critique of principle or rule-based reasoning. See:

e.g., consider meaning of these words in context:

15 appear
17 trust
18 right
21 merit
24 happier state vs. now
30 good
35 covet (qualifications?)
38 just

Satan's error.
Some comments from Harry Blamires, Milton's Creation (1971):

Satan at opening of Book II: as if he has learned nothing from his defeat; aspires to engage in conflict again with heaven. As if Satan rethinks himself for each role he adopts.

Although he aspires to regain heaven, in fact he has accepted hell (I, 242-63). His fantasy of new glory, better than if they had never fallen.

And to be saved, not like men through redemptive power of god, but through own efforts, trusting themselves (II, 17).

Satan's superiority over the other fallen angels asserted, claims leadership, since no one else could aspire to such an unenviable position.

The virtue of their union, faith, and firm accord (II, 36). "Nothing succeeds like failure" (27).

Deluded beings that speak after Satan -- Moloch, etc. Abuse of reason and intellect in their speeches.

Review Satan's speeches, his character:

I, 84-124
I, 157-191
I, 242-270
I, 622-662
II, 11-42
II, 430-466

Character of Satan? -- describe in a word or two:

Blind spots

Is Satan heroic?

-- characterise him in a sentence or two . . .

Book II, summary

1. Satan and other powers assembled on bejewelled throne
11.  Satan asserts their will to rise again and take over heaven
43.  Moloch argues for open war
106.  Belial says attack impossible; wait for things to improve
231.  Mammon : rejects servility under God; they can improve their present state
284.  Mammon applauded, speaks to fears of assembly of new sufferings
310.  Beelzebub: better than to wait, pursue rumour of new world and race called Man
378.  Assembly votes for this project; he continues, asking who to send
417.  No one speaks, all seem bewildered
430.  Satan speaks on dangers of their prison; undertakes to go, alone
466.  No one else offers to go
486.  Devils agree, more shame on mankind for hatred and strife
506.  Assembly celebrates, then each goes their separate way
575.  The four rivers of hell, icy realms beyond
629.  Satan meanwhile explores, at gates of hell finds Sin and Death
681.  Satan disputes with Death about his egress
704.  Satan and Death posture for attack
727.  Separated by Sin, who calls Satan father and death his son
746.  Sin relates how Satan gave birth to Sin, and the two gave birth to Death
790.  And how Death raped Sin who gave birth to hell hounds
815.  Satan imparts the purpose of his journey, will please Sin and Death
850.  Sin agrees to obey her father Satan, will sit at Satan’s right hand
871.  Sin takes the key and opens the massive gates, cannot close them
917.  Satan crosses the wastes, encounters Chaos, Night, and other figures
968.  Asks the way; to promote the standard of Night
988.  Chaos recognizes Satan; speeds his way to Earth
1010. Satan crosses an abyss, to be followed by Sin and Death, sights Earth

Books II: some issues ---

Consider what is added to the heroic status of Satan, as shown in Books II

What feelings do Satan and his companions experience?

Is there any evidence that they regret anything?

What is the evil that they experience? What do they fear that would be worse?

Despite (or because of) their mythical status, do Satan and his colleagues have contemporary relevance?


Book IV:

Is life in Eden satisfactory for Adam and Eve; if so, why?

What status do Adam and Eve have in their relationship?

What is the status of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge? (see IV, 218-222)

Does Milton's approach to sex challenge other views?

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Document created November 16th 2009