Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Annotated Bibliography--Carmen

Social Graph
Steven Thorley--My father is extremely knowledgable in all things religion. At the same time, he is a philosopher and scientist. He really is the smartest man I know, and we talk about religion and literature and all that stuff anyways. Now I can finally use those conversations for school.
Chris Hall--One of my best friends and a huge literature enthusiast. Definitely has unique opinions that stray from the norm...maybe that intentional, but it will be good to get a different perspective on it all.
Dane Thorley--My brother goes to school in New York. I've already talked to him about this paper, and he said that Columbia has a really great collection of scholarly articles that he will look through for me.
Matthew Richardson--Brother Richardson is in my home ward in Orem. He's a religion professor here at BYU and he's a general authority, so I think it's safe to say that he knows his stuff. I would love to talk to him about the Biblical portrayals of Eve and Delilah.

New Media
Emerging Scholars Blog--This link leads to a post about Best Christian Books. Good informational blog to refer to.
Kingdom Poets--Blog about poets from the Christian Faith.
Team Milton--this blog is a great resource where all of us students has written about our experience reading John Milton
Women in the Bible
Paradise Lost Podcasts--love podcasts. Since I'm not as willing to re-read Paradise Lost as I am to read Samson Agonistes, listening to a few of these will be good in refreshing my memory.
Samson and Delilah poem

Social Networks
Great Yahoo message boards:
Marriage and Divorce in the Works of John Milton
Samson Agonistes and Paradise Lost: Similarities Between the Sexes
Fallen Women of the Bible: Eve, Jezebel, Delilah

Message board/essay thing from Study Mode:
Comparing the Characters of Eve and Delilah

Milton, Adam, and Eve

Milton: Misogynist, Feminist, or Sexist?

Traditional Scholarly Sources
Milton's Dalila and Eve: Filling in the Spaces in the Biblical Text--great article that takes Milton's stories about Dalila and Eve and compares them to the Bible, pointing out what he left out, what he added in, etc.
Feminist Milton
Threshold Poetics--focuses on Samson Agonistes and Paradise Lost from a feminist and psychoanalytic perspective

        I need to visit the library over break and see what other traditional sources I can find. This is what I have so far, and I feel pretty good about it. I will be posting a working thesis soon!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I have reached a decision, classmates!

        As the title says, I have decided on a topic. Finally. Two out of the three options I posted before were a little too vague for me to go off of. So I am going to write about Milton's portrayals of Eve and Delilah, how (and if) they differ from other portrayals, and then compare the two (using Samson Agoniste and Paradise Lost.)
        I hope with my research will come a more specific focus (like whether his characters jive with the Bible's characters, or how his characters fit into feminism) yes yes yes.
        I am pretty happy with this idea. I not only tolerated Samson Agoniste, but I really liked it. And though I love essays, for some reason, Milton just wasn't doing it for me, so Paradise Lost was the next best thing. Sorry if I'm sounding annoying and negative here.
        I think these women characters are fascinating.
        I've already found a few good sources:
---Threshold Poetics: Milton and Intersubjectivity. It says in the description that this includes both Paradise Lost and Samson Agonistes (which I've come to find is kind of rare.) I'll have to read more into it to see if it's what I'm looking for.

---Feminist Milton: This could be a really good source. It could narrow my topic if I'm interested enough in writing my paper with a feminist focus.

---Comparing the characters of Eve and Delilah in the Bible: while the previous two sources are actual books, this is an online source. My favorite.

---Milton and the Unfettered Mind: There is a section of the book titled "Milton's Delilah and Even: Filling in the Spaces in the Biblical text." This could give me a base for my Bible side of the comparison, where I can rely on myself more for figuring out Milton's side.

---Marriage and Divorce in the works of John Milton

--Samson Agonistes and Paradise Lost: Similarities Between the Sexes

        Those are some of the sources that I skimmed over that helped me settle on this topic. I will probably have to reread Samson Agonistes, and go over my highlighted sections of Paradise Lost (I'm not reading that whole thing again).
        I'm pretty pleased with this idea. I think there is a lot that can be said about these characters. I will continue working tomorrow morning and post my annotated bibliography.

Jake's Annotated Bib

Working Thesis

Areopagitica decries statist information gatekeeping as “contrary to the manner of God and of nature;” ironically, after the reinstated monarchy imprisoned Milton and publicly burned many of his political tracts, he apparently reverses this claim as he discusses the fall of the Babel via the voice of Michael in the final book of Paradise Lost.

Social Graph

Jacob Bender - a longtime friend and one of the most knowledgable lovers of literature I've met. He's currently studying James Joyce and Peurto Rican literature as a PhD student back east. I expect he'll also be a valuable asset in keeping my historical perspective sound. I recently reached out to him via Google+ but haven't heard back yet.

Jason Kerr - I just dropped by his office today to introduce myself and, as Dr. Burton promised, he welcomed the opportunity to talk some Milton. I was blown away by his ability to rattle off citations for me to look up to flesh out my argument.

Falawn Clayson - my better half. She may not know John Milton from Milton Bradley (I exagerate), but that can be a good thing: I'll know I haven't sufficiently covered the historical/autobiographical elements of my topic if she can't follow my logic. She's also a smashing writer who isn't afraid to tell me when I'm getting pretentious or pedantic. We've chatted on a broad level, but I plan to run my working draft by her in the future.

Greg Bayles - I've had a few conversations with Greg after class, and the dude knows his stuff. Though we didn't meet in person until the first day of ENGL 383, he's offered insightful feedback on my past writing at, and is clearly a mover and a shaker when it comes to social networking; I hope it's not too late to learn from his discipline and consistency for this paper.

Ben Gillis - another longtime friend, Ben is wrapping up a law degree in Texas after earning an English BA here at BYU. He's always impressed me with his ability to troubleshoot logic, look at the big picture, and correct mechanical problems in my writing. I also recently reached out to him via Google+ but haven't heard back yet.

New Media

For a while, my new media research was similar to what Johnathan, Heather, and Chelsea are focused on: Areopagitica's application in a post-9/11 world. I googled some semi-scholarly articles that broadly discussed Milton's political thought with contemporary libertarian concerns, and I stumbled into a cool BBC documentary on YouTube about Cromwell in the process, but nothing really gelled the way I wanted it to.
More recently, I've searched for "Paradise Lost Book XII" on Prezi. I haven't had the chance to mine the 123 presentations my search returned, but a quick glance left me intrigued. I did see, however, that there were some YouTube videos embedded in a couple Prezis, and that inspired me to YouTube the same search terms (not sure why I hadn't thought of doing that previously). Lo and behold, an OpenYale lecture on those books popped up...

Social Networks

So far, I've mainly used Twitter, Facebook and Google+. With the former two I simply asked if anyone in my existing networks (including the literary blogging network I've started for Ships of Hagoth) had any interest in the subject and posted a link to my last blog post on this site. For Google+, I spent some time trying to find solid Milton-related communities (found nothing noteworthy), and then I did a hashtag search for a few Milton terms and commented on relevant posts expressing appreciation for the post and asking if they had any insight on my topic. No replies yet, but I'll give it another day or two.

I plan to follow a similar approach on Twitter and try out the "Dear Professor" personal message approach we discussed in class via LinkedIn, This is probably where I'm most short at the moment.


        Alright, kids. It's high time I get a post on here. I thought I knew what I wanted to write about, but I've been stuck ever since I decided on that topic. So I'm changing it!
        I'm going to kind of record my progress on this post, and the next one I do will be my bibliography.
        Having read through some of my strongest posts, I have narrowed it down to a few possible topics:

        --Eve and Delilah. These two are interesting. I know the world has given Eve a hard time about her mistake (and, you know, maybe some or most of it is deserved?) but Delilah. That woman is a piece of work. I would love to read more into her character (Milton's portrayal of her) and see if it differs much from other works. My guess it that it wouldn't. I think she might just be an all around nasty lady. It also helps that this was my favorite Milton piece that we've read.
        --Censorship. I would be a little less grounded in this topic because I'm not exactly sure what  I'd be writing about concerning censorship. I feel like it's kind of been written to death. But that means that there are plenty of sources out there, and it is an intriguing topic. Also, was God censoring Adam and Eve from knowledge by forbidding them to eat of the fruit?
        --Free Will. Tons of sources. One of my father's and my favorite discussion topics. If I were to focus on this I would want bring up Areopagitica--If certain ideas are censored from us, we do not have complete free will, because we do not have to option to accept or reject those ideas that are not available to us. Another cool thing I could draw upon is God's part in free will (what I wrote about about God and censorship.)
        --That brings me to an interesting question: who are we to question God? He shouldn't have to justify his acts. Yada yada yada.

        Okay, I'm going to post this right now so that everyone (namely Professor Burton) knows that I'm alive and kicking. I will do more research right now though post again before tonight about the topic I will be focusing on. Thank you and goodnight.

Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography:

I am working on finding more New Media sources, but the ones that I have been finding don't deal at all with my argument

Working Thesis:
"Although Adam and Eve are the first of the human race it is inaccurate to consider them as symbolic representations of the race as a whole by the way they think, feel, and behave in Milton's Paradise Lost. Misreading this symbolic representation interrupts Milton's concept of the Fall and its influence on mankind."

Monday, November 25, 2013

Liberty and Freedom Turned Sour: Annotated Bibliography

Alright. Bibliography time.

Working Thesis:  Though Milton fights vehemently for freedom and liberty of the people in The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, his later ruler-subject interactions in Paradise Lost show that the ideals of liberty and freedom have limits and can become rhetorically dangerous, hindering one's real freedom and the freedoms of others under the same government.

1. Social Graph

  • David Gatenby, one of my closest friends and a fellow literary nut. He started college as a comparative literature major and then got bored because he had already read and written papers for fun about all the books he was asked to read for his classes. Also one of my most politically interested friends, always up to date. Great to discuss ideas with about anything literary or political.
  • My father, who I actually bounced some ideas off of today to tighten my thesis a bit.
  • Greg, Heather, and Chelsea all have a lot in common with what I am writing about and found some great sources and ideas through their research and blog posts. Hopefully I can return the favor.
  • William Kennedy. A fellow English Major who is graduating next semester. He just wrote a few papers on Paradise Lost so his mind is fresh on the subject.
  • Dave Sewell. My boss and CEO the company I work for. He just got elected to the Provo City Council. I'm interested to see how someone directly involved in local government has to say about freedom, liberty, and the responsibility of citizens.

Hunger in Paradise: Appetite as Character Development in the Works of Milton

I can confidently say that building this has been the single most helpful step in the writing process I've ever worked on. I'm still working on broadening my resources (my traditional sources section feels so bare I want to cry), but I think I've managed to create something that will give me a good start in my essay.

Thesis: In Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained Milton uses hunger, both physical and metaphorical, as the defining tool for character development in Satan and Christ respectively, a key aspect that, when compared with the author’s other works, ultimately illustrating the author's point that it is not circumstance, but the resulting action, which defines a person and their ultimate reward.

Milton, Satan, and Religious Tyranny: Annotated Bibliography

Alright so here's my revised working thesis. "Milton channels his own views and personality into Satan in order to create a more human version of the devil as opposed to the previous versions of the devil in Christian literature. Milton creates this new form of Satan in order to make a political statement against the tyranny of the monarchy in the Church." I'm still working on what exactly Milton is fighting against in the Church. 

An Exploratory, Annotated Bibliography on Satan's Humanity in Paradise Lost

I laid out my working thesis in a post last week, but I wanted to post a revised version, in addition to a number of social and media resources that will eventually be incorporated into my final paper:


Although Milton draws upon strong religious and archetypal currents in crafting his Satan figure in Paradise Lost, truly understanding the arch-fiend's character (and thus, the epic as a whole) requires that the reader dissociate Satan's character from that of the Biblical adversary. Rather, Satan should be interpreted as a representation of the fallen condition of mankind and thus as a lens for better understanding human nature and the concept of self.


I posted an initial query as to interest in Paradise Lost on my Facebook account and received a number of responses from friends who either had read or were reading Paradise Lost. A couple of them even contributed resources for my study of Satan's humanity.
  • Christopher Lew, a friend from my chemistry days, said that he had read it but had the most experience in the beginning and the end. He might be a good one to talk to about Satan specifically, as the beginning kind of lays out his character.
  • Jordan Callister, a good friend from the Russian department, said he's reading it right now and "LOVE[S] IT," so he would likely be good to talk to as well, especially since he's reading it recreationally rather than as an assignment. That shows real interest in the subjects.
  • Danny Cardoza, a close friend from my internship in Moscow and one of my most active supporters and contributors, said he had read Paradise Lost something like eight years ago, but I'll likely still discuss it with him in greater detail, in that discussions with him always go interesting places and lead me to neat ideas.
  • Evan Preece, an acquaintance from the Foreign Language Student Residency (FLSR), said he'd read it, and while I don't know how rigorous of a reading that was, he sounds like he would be a good enthusiast to bounce some ideas off of.
  • Aleesha Bass, a cohort member from my digital culture class, linked to a Prezi that she worked on last year. It talks about Satan and the heroic tradition, an idea that I've seen come up in a number of other resources. Aleesha likely has a lot to say about Satan's character, and I'd especially be interested in learning more about the comparisons she makes in the Prezi, i.e. to Achilles, Hamlet, etc.
  • Ryan Schnell, another friend from the FLSR, linked me to a couple of articles by a Biblical scholar, Father Patrick Madigan, who presented at BYU not long ago. They address the expressive individualism and rebellious imagination of Satan in Paradise Lost and draw the comparison between the arch-fiend and modern man. Ryan is also a Biblical scholar-to-be, so he might be a good resource for investigating historical conceptions of Satan.
  • My mom and sister both majored in English, so I'll likely be shooting ideas at them over Thanksgiving break. I don't think they've read PL of late, but they nonetheless could provide some feedback for my flow of arguments.
  • I also noticed that Heather and Jonathan are looking at aspects of Satan's humanity, so they'd likely be good resources and/or collaborative partners. 

More Annotated Sources

John Milton, Monalisa 2013
In previous posts, I have outlined a couple people to look into and annotated a few sources I have checked into. Here, I would like to go on with that list by adding some blogs and new media, since my project will work with that. But also, I would like to focus a little more on Milton. I realize that it will be really easy to fall into the trap of making Milton fall to the wayside in favor of the modern application. So I need to find some sources that deal strictly with Milton and so I am not forgetting him. I already did this some, but I could do it more. So here it goes.


First, let's cover some social media.

Gabriel Jbreel Hess

  • An aspiring military chaplain, he posts numerous links to Edward Snowden's leaks and articles about the NSA.
  • I've already talked to him, and he's been willing to help me find more things as they pop up.
Google+ Media
  • Communities are few and far between that deal strictly with the NSA and Edward Snowden, but all you have to do is type in #NSA or #Snowden on the search bar and you come up with this.
  • This is an invaluable source for breaking news information I could use to further my argument.
  • Typing in #Milton or #JohnMilton lends very few results.

Annotated Bibliography: Research Process

As I am researching more and more I’m beginning to think that maybe I’m not going deep enough. In addition to the thesis below I’ve been gathering information specifically regarding Milton’s deviation from traditional methods, and perchance utilizing these deviations to point out Christ’s superiority (meaning c. The thesis below is still bumbling but it isn’t as long. Is it too general? Too narrow? 

Working Thesis #2: Although Milton’s heavy use of classical pagan allusions can be a cause of confusion as far as his Christian directives, Milton is further defining his divine calling that they are a means to an end, that end being a personal understanding and relationship with Christ as the pinnacle of all learning. As demonstrated in Christ’s rebuttal of classical scholarship in “Paradise Regained."

Chinese & European Takeaways: An Annotated Bibliography

My working thesis that is more of an abstract and a little redundant... Help anyone?

Taken by Nicole Harvey using Canon Powershot S110 on 11/9/2012 
Postcolonial reading has come under recent criticism as modern innovations have made other cultures more accessible and comparable to our own. Robert Markley has been one of its main critics. Markley's main argument in his second chapter of The Far East and the English Imagination, 1600-1730 is that postcolonial criticism of 17th century authors like Milton has been too narrow and has made assumptions about things that are not factual. Namely, it has taken for granted the "fact" that England has not only been the supreme historic power, but also that the English have all historically viewed themselves in this way. He debunks this assumption first by naming statistics supporting China as a more civilized nation at the time English colonization and second by citing Englishmen at the time who lobbied in Parliament to emulate China's model of government. He claims it is our Anglocentricity that prevents our acknowledging either the influence of these other powers or the threat the English felt at Asia's political and religious power. In other words, Markley believes postcolonial reading and our Anglocentricity assumes the difference between England and China is in favor of England while the truth was the complete opposite. I would like to state that it is Markley's own Anglocentricity that prevents his ability to acknowledge the similarities between Milton's work and Far Eastern culture. It is these similarities that reconcile long-debated contradictions throughout pieces like Paradise Lost.

Universal similarities change with circumstance and time. One universalistic norm that existed at the time Milton was writing was a value placed on what our culture now condemns and terms the "passive." After WWII, our culture changed while China remained the same in this regard, making our Anglocentric reading of Paradise Lost imperfect and biased. By reading Milton in Eastern thought, or valuing the passive, we eliminate some of the things our modern, Anglocentric view mistakenly assumes about Milton's culture. By using this reading, we find new insight into the definition of power studied by the postcolonial critics Markley criticizes.

Here's a list of sources I've found useful (or want to soon utilize):

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Waving The Banner of Freedom For Personal Gain

Whew. Finally back into the swing of things. I've been really sick this week and am finally recovering so this is my attempt to begin catching up on my research work for my final paper.

In considering what to write my final paper on, I am drawn to a few ideas that have been floating around in my head for a while. I want to explore deeper the concepts from my last paper about freedom and submission (personified incorrectly by Satan and discovered by Eve). 

We live in a country founded on ideas drawn from Milton's of freedom and liberty from tyranny and many of the early founding fathers drew on these principles for their own writing and ideals. I feel that many have continued to hold on to the words of liberty but have lost the real meaning behind them or only used them as a face to help them find personal gain. Kind of like what Stanley Fish explains in his essay, "There Is No Such Thing As Free Speech"  In thinking about current situations and ideas, the words freedom and equality get thrown around recklessly and many seem to have a "down with the government I should get to do what I want cause I'm free" mentality. What are the consequences of seeking freedom through such means? I want to argue that this idea is what ruined Satan, and his actions and fate outline how this attitude actually destroys freedom. I don't want to focus so much on government, but the roles of citizens within the frame of government.

Is Freedom something achieved through government or is true freedom, freedom from government?
Basically there are two kinds of "freedom" one is negative and destructive and one provides progress and actual freedom for the individual. I found an awesome dissertation by following one of Professor Burton's ideas on his post that helped me discover the terms I was looked for to articulate the distinction.

Working thesis: Milton's On Tenure of Kings and Magistrates alongside his representation of Satan and Eve show the bounds in which freedom must be exercised to produce desired liberty. True freedom cannot be found without submission.

Still working to discover specifically what my conclusion is, but this is the frame work for my argument.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Media Resources on Satan's Humanity in Paradise Lost

I've been doing some alternative media and social searches for my research on Milton's Satan figure in Paradise Lost, and it's been interesting to hear peoples' perspectives. I keep wondering whether some honor code officer is going to come over and arrest me for doing queries for videos about the humanity of Satan, but so far, things have gone smoothly. I've come across a fair number of resources relating to my topic and have only had to wade through a few Satanist videos and a wealth of screamo/hard rock music based on Milton's Satan figure. I guess in some way, that's art, too, so I should probably care more about it...

In any case, I wanted to share some of the preliminary materials that I've found. I posted a while ago about the Paradise Lost video game, and I'm also a big fan of Eric Whiatacre's Paradise Lost music. This video won't embed for some reason, but it's an original composition that a student wrote as a part of his study of Paradise Lost in a humanities class. The description notes, "Through John Milton's eyes, Lucifer is a sympathetic and human like character, not the evil corrupted figure we usually see when we think of Lucifer." This is a fairly simple piece of commentary, but it nonetheless shows that he is seriously engaging this idea of Satan's humanity. I don't know that he would be a phenomenal resource, but it's certainly neat to see how an interest in Paradise Lost can lead to other creative efforts.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Researching Conventional Literary Scholarship: 12 Ways

While I have urged my students to diversify their literary research by adding a social and new media layer to their inquiry process, I also want them to make good use of available, conventional scholarship. Here are several good ways to do this. Rather than introducing just a set of specific databases or sites, I wish to emphasize principles of good research in the digital age.

Here are 12 ways to go about researching conventional literary scholarship

Symbolic Readings of Adam

My working thesis is largely unchanged from my original paper:

"Although Adam and Eve are the first of the human race it is inaccurate to consider them as symbolic representations of the race as a whole by the way they think, feel, and behave in Milton's Paradise Lost. Misreading this symbolic representation interrupts Milton's concept of the Fall and its influence on mankind."

I am adding emphasis to the "so what?" side of the argument. What are the results of reading too much intoOn Education, in which Milton claims that we all have the responsibility to use knowledge and learning to overcome the fall. Therefore, if we just assume that we all are confined to a fallen state by Adam's actions, does that diminish our responsibility to work our way out of it? Did Milton believe that we were to be punished for Adam's transgression? (Even if he did, he probably doesn't anymore, if that spirit-world missionary work is chugging along as planned.)
the symbolism of our first parents and how does this fit in with Milton's theology? The main quote I will be working with comes from

I'm also considering spending time on the fallacies that lead to misreadings. For example, it is inaccurate to assume that simply because we share common characteristics with Adam, he must be symbolic of us. I am concerned that would result in being distracting from the driving thesis, however. Do you feel as though it will be detrimental to the paper and make it read more like a debate speech, or is it worth some exploration?

Christ vs. Classical Learning: Milton's Divine Calling

Working Thesis: Milton’s use of classical allusions throughout his works and then refutal of them through Christ in “Paradise Regained” is in order to establish the view of Christ as the pinnacle of intellectual learning. We learn of all these things (Milton's upbringing and classical training), we copy them, imitate their works, trying to perfect them when in reality the image of perfection we should be striving for is Christ. Don’t let the copia and of these secular/classical writers get in the way. They are a means to an end. And Christ/Christianity (in its truest form) is that end. 
(It is big, bumbling, and wordy but it gets the point across which is what I am most concerned about currently.)

Milton bends these traditions - by writing Paradise Lost as an epic, but turning it away from the traditional, pagan stories. In fact, he uses those stories to further his divine cause, to expand understanding of God and Christ.
Milton is using what people are familiar with in order to relay something new. Traditional forms but new content. Higher, elevated content. Christianity. 
He is rendering into "common tongue” (of the time period, what people are familiar with.)  

Milton’s sense of divine calling - it begins as an effort to justify the ways of God to man, Milton begins to realize that in order to justify these things we need to understand the nature of Christ. This explanation would qualify the disparity of characteristic between Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. In Paradise Lost we are sucked into as Hillier describes "Milton’s Christocentric universe, charged with the Son’s grandeur.” The Son is treated with an awe-like deference. In Paradise Regained he becomes a person, a man, albeit an elevated one, but with a personality, characteristics, someone we could come to know. People care about him (Andrew & Simon, Mary.) And demons fear him (Satan…the other demons.) And that knowing, that coming to understand Him is what Milton feels he is called to call us to do.

What does this mean for all of those classical allusions?

Is Milton a Closet Feminist?

In my first paper, I primarily focused on the way Milton glorifies Eve through her independent quest for knowledge. For the larger scope of this research paper, I am going to explore feminism in a variety of Milton's works and his personal experiences. I was tempted to study out Milton's progressiveness: feminism, access to information, divorce...etc but I think it would be somewhat disjointed. Instead, my working thesis currently is: Feminists have largely touted Milton's portrayal of Eve as submissive and demeaning, yet in analysis of Milton's works as a whole and his own life, I would argue he exhibits clear traits of feminism including a high standard and desire for intellectualism, as well as equality as individuals and within relationships, thus classifying him as a progressive thinker and feminist.

I was surprised to find so much research done on the topic of Milton and Feminism. It seems that many people have wondered whether Milton identified himself as a feminist (or misogynist or sexist or anything at all, really). My goal is to make a claim  that is unique and enlightening, so I may tweak my thesis as I read more on the issue.

I was delighted to find Anne Ferry's "Milton's Creation of Eve" available online through the library's website. Although Ferry agrees Milton is not objectifying Eve, she does see distinct differences between Adam and Eve and their interactions with each other. My concern with this is that many feminists base their argument on the fact that men and women are equal in that they are not biologically suited for certain roles. .

Kat Sanger's article "Milton: Misogynist, Feminist or Sexist?" studies the different identities Milton could claim and how he could do it. It's a short article, but it has lots of great resources.

This article by Arpi Paylan is the type of essay that I would have originally wanted to write-with allusions to the Divorce Tracts and  Paradise Lost. So now I am going to draw what I can from this article to make an innovative argument!

Research Proposal: Looking at Milton and Satan Through Political Lens

So I've refined my thesis a bit: "Milton channels his own views and personality into Satan in order to create a more human version of the devil as opposed to the previous versions of the devil in christian literature. Milton creates this new form of Satan in order to make a political statement on the monarchy in the Church."

I'll tweak it more as I do some more research but that's the basic idea. As for research, I need to look up other versions of the devil in Christian literature to compare to Milton's Satan. I could probably use the devil from Doctor Faustus. I could probably even use the Bible for that as well. I also need to do research on some of the political issues Milton was fighting against during the time he was writing Paradise Lost, particularly on his feelings on the politics in the Church. If you guys happen to find anything related to that, let me know. 

Seeing Through the Mist of Eurocentricity: Oriental Influence in Paradise Lost

After searching for hours, I was awed to find a miracle: Robert Markley wrote a book titled The Far East and English Imagination, 1600-1730 published 2006. In the book there is a chapter named "China and the limits of Eurocentric history: Milton, the Jesuits, and the Jews of Kaifeng." What?! Turns out Markley is the recent expert on Chinese relations with 17th century literary England. There have been at least two other scholars that have referred to his works and two more that have written reviews of the book. This conversation is still fairly new and I'm excited to be a part of it.

Part of what has been said is that the Western world has been hopelessly Eurocentric in its view of the historic world which inhibited its view of how things were at the time. Our view of the world has seen England as the great power when really it paled in comparison to China. He also has claimed that because of Milton's view on the Jesuits preaching in China, Milton was decidedly at odds with everything we now deem as other in oriental culture.

My working thesis is this:
Our projection of Eurocentricity and Americentricity onto Milton's culture has caused us to have the mistaken impression that Milton was more at odds with oriental ideals than he actually was. Even in Markley's critique of Milton's Eurocentricity, he is himself Eurocentric.
Following are some of my claims:
There are pieces of 17th century England (or at least Miltonian ideals) that shared viewpoints with 17th century, ancient, and current Chinese culture. (God and the Son's "passivity," Satan's "activity," there are many ways to say/see one thing, putting the most important thing at the end of the sentence, masculine emulation of our current "feminine.")
Postcolonialism England is blind to its negative influence as a power. Eurocentric England is blind to other powers' positive influences. (Delft and Gardens all came from China.)
Milton was against Jesuits preaching because of his non-Jesuit sentimentalities, not fear of pagan/Chinese assimilation.
Milton had no qualms using pagan doctrine to prove Christian points. It seems very unlikely he would be unsettled by Christian "assimilation," especially after his idealism of China in referring to Christ's second coming in Book XI referring to China as "the seat,/ Of mightiest empire, from the destined walls/ Of Cambalu" (XI 386-388).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Statist Information Control in a Fallen World

Behold my working thesis in all it's glory:
Areopagitica decries statist information gatekeeping as “contrary to the manner of God and of nature;” ironically, after the reinstated monarchy imprisoned Milton and publicly burned many of his political tracts, he apparently reverses this claim through a revelation from Michael invented for the final book of Paradise Lost.
The portion of the revelation referenced above that supports this argument is the retelling of the fall of Babel. In the paper this thesis has grown out of, I claimed that the Tower of Babel situates the following statement by Michael within the context of communication and human progress:
Since thy original lapse, true liberty
Is lost, which always with right reason dwells
Twinned, and from her hath no dividual being…
Therefore since [man] permits
Within himself unworthy powers to reign
Over free reason, God in judgment just
Subjects him from without to violent lords.

While I haven't yet excavated a source contemporary to or predating Milton that corroborates this contextualization of Babel, I stumbled into an article that affirmed it via "the Netziv, writing in the nineteenth century, and later cited approvingly by Lord Sacks." Netziv "interprets 'the whole world was of one language and of one speech' (Genesis 11:1) to mean that freedom of expression is suppressed in Babel." This same article discusses the political implications of the biblical Babel story in connection with, interestingly, Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan. This historical/political intersection might prove to be very fruitful, especially if there's any merit to the claim that Paradise Lost can be viewed as a critique of Hobbes' Leviathan.

Further, it looks like Babel was frequently discussed during the English Civil War as a political symbol. I've only glanced at one article that addresses this element and would love any additional sources any of you might have to offer.

Man's Fallen Condition in Milton's Satan Figure: A Working Thesis

I just wanted to take a minute to post my working thesis for Paradise Lost and some recent reading from Stanley Fish's Surprised by Sin. I've posted my thesis previously as part of my first paper, and I've tackled Fish's work a couple of times already, but in any case, I want to spend more of my time tonight reading/researching rather than blogging, so this will likely be quick.

Working Thesis: In Paradise Lost, although Milton draws upon strong religious and archetypal currents in crafting his Satan figure, truly understanding his character (and thus, the epic as a whole) requires that the reader dissociate Satan's character from that of the Biblical adversary. Rather, Satan should be interpreted as a representation of the fallen condition of mankind and thus as a lens for better understanding the nature and degree of human fallenness.

The Reader, by Edouard Manet
Wikimedia Commons
Today in Surprised by Sin, I finished off a big section on the reader's involvement in his own edification. Fish asserts that through Paradise Lost, the reader "becomes the detachedly involved observer of his own mental processes" and thus becomes an investigation of sin and fallenness within the reader himself (54). Fish suggests that Milton basically forces the reader to find the conflicts of Paradise Lost within himself and within his own psyche, and understanding the work requires that the reader acknowledge that the poem is essentially concerned with his salvation specifically. Fish notes, "The value of the experience depends on the reader's willingness to participate in it fully while at the same time standing apart from it" (43). He must see himself within the poem and yet see the poem as an independent entity. This is, in some ways, similar to my view that the reader must see himself in the Satan character (or vice versa) while still preserving the distance necessary to place him as a set character within a largely fixed narrative of the Edenic encounter.

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts on my working thesis. Where are some areas where it's lacking, and does this contribute meaningfully to a study of Paradise Lost?
Fish, Stanley. Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost. 1967. Cambridge: Harvard U P, 1997. Print.

Hunger and Consequences

So after much consideration and probably not quite enough research I've narrowed my original topic down quite a bit:
And, since this is a really
 short post, here's how I feel
about the autumn season.

Thesis: In Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained Milton uses hunger, both physical and metaphorical, as the defining tool for character development in Satan and Christ respectively, ultimately illustrating the author's point that it is not circumstance which defines the individual, but how that individual chooses to act.

I'm still banging out a few obvious flaws, but I've ditched Adam and Eve to focus on Satan and Christ. I think this has the potential to shed some light on the dichotomy between these two principle characters, and I'm thinking I'll pull in some of Milton's other works where he characterizes them to draw parallels. I'm also still considering bringing in other figures in Milton's work who suffer from hunger.

Unfortunately I haven't quite figured out how to work actual food in. But the night is young, I may find a way yet.

A Mix of Sources

The more I look at what I'm doing, the more I'm realizing that there hasn't been much scholarship regarding the Patriot Act and Milton in an official sense, but there are a few people who have picked up the narrative.

As I will largely be constructing this narrative in the form of modern happenings, I will be utilizing a lot of newspaper articles and press releases and news clips. It will also take awhile to sort through everything I have found to utilize what I want. However, this is my start. If any of you have or come across something juicy, would you please let me know? Thanks!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Research, Research, and More Research!

So my working thesis is: "Milton channels his own views and personality into Satan in order to create a more human version of the devil as opposed to the previous versions of the devil in christian literature, making a political statement on the humanism of Satan." I need to work on it more and I'd like to add more of a political element in there but I haven't figured out how to incorporate that just yet.

As far as research goes, I will admit, I was skeptical of using twitter to help me out in my research. However, I found that it helped me find some organizations that I probably wouldn't have heard of. For example, I found an organization called the Digital Public Library of America which had access to some useful articles and books. I also found various other university websites where I could look up specific professors. For example, I found a Dr Margaret Kean from St Hilda's College at the University of Oxford. She's done some research on Milton and I'll have to read some of her publications. Here's the link to her page if you think she may have something helpful:

I also looked up some publications on the Milton Society of America's website and I found some interesting journal articles that deal with Satan and his relationship with Milton. One in particular caught my eye, which was titled, "God, Satan, and King Charles: Milton's Royal Portraits," by Joan S. Bennett. This article argues that Milton was using King Charles as a model for Satan. This opens the door for a lot of political analysis. The author mainly compares King Charles and the other royalists to the power-hungry devil. This article, while not exactly what I may have in mind for my topic, does bring up some interesting elements that I'll have to consider, such as the political element of Satan and what it may mean for the monarchy of the church. I think it would be interesting, and it's led me to ask more questions and hopefully refine my thesis.

So far, research is going fairly well for me, though I still need to do a lot more, particularly in finding more professors who've done research on Satan in Paradise Lost. There's so much out there that it's tricky sifting through all the information, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.
Here's the bibliography of that article if you want to look at it:
Bennett, Joan S. “God, Satan, and King Charles: Milton’s Royal Portraits,” PMLA, 92 (1977):441-457

Chinese Citizen Milton

Although I was skeptical at first, I was unable to shake some of the connections between modern Chinese culture and ideas persistent in Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. Some of the similarities include his ideas about knowledge, heroism, power, and gender roles. Many of these topics seem contradictory when reading it from a modern American culture perspective. For example, the fact that Satan is so active and Christ is so passive seems at odds with our ideas of power. Milton has fallen under much gender role criticism because Eve seems inferior by our American standards, but after a little study I've found a few interesting things:

Areopagitica and the People’s Rights to Information and Government Transparency

Thesis/Opening Paragraph:

Milton’s political tracts boldly declare his belief that in order for the people to be a functioning, self-governing body, they had to have the right to uncensored information. This belief, completely rejected by Parliament, would come up later in American government with the creation of the First Amendment. Yet in America today, we’re struggling with the same problems Milton faced in his time. How do we, as a people, make informed decisions about our government if we don’t have the freedom of information? Is it possible to strike a balance between a transparent government and free flow of information and government secrets and operatives’ safety? Like Milton, we have several figures in the world that are willing to risk their lives for their belief that the uncensored exchange of ideas and information is tantamount for the people to avoid corrupt government, oppression, and social injustice. While many names come to mind, I would like to focus on two main figures in this regard: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Both Assange and Snowden believe that the only way to truly make change for the better is to let people see what’s really going on in all sectors of government and economics. Milton’s premise of freedom of information in Areopagitica completely supports this view. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Following the grapevine

On the Milton Society of America's webpage they have a page of recent or in-progress publications which I thought was interesting and quite helpful! Not only does it have the latest on Milton academia but also the latest scholars working on it. I found a couple articles that have been recently published as well as some that are still forthcoming. I jotted down the names of the authors to look them up and maybe try talking to them! If you're stuck and/or looking for people and information I would suggest taking a glance.


As with most things in my life, my essay topic is motivated by food, or really the lack thereof. Hunger and starvation are themes spanning across Milton's works, most notably in Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, though I'd like to focus on the metaphorical side of this feeling, as well as the motivations behind it and what those say about each particular character.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Surprised by Fish

The Titans in Hell, by Gustave Doré
Public Domain
A while back, I wrote a quick post addressing some of Stanley Fish's broader claims in Surprised by Sin, quite possibly the most influential secondary resource for Milton's Paradise Lost. I've had a little bit of time to actually get into the text of late, so I have new discoveries and new contentions with some of the claims therein.

Overall, Fish makes some really intriguing points and corrects (perhaps too giddily) a number of flaws in theories then prevailing among Miltonic scholars. As a whole, though, I still wonder if Fish misinterprets the Satan character, despite his clear focus on his necessity in helping the reader to understand his own condition. I've been working to prove basically that same point but from the perspective that Milton's Satan figure should be interpreted not as the Biblical adversary but as one of many varying degrees of human depravity or fallenness. Fish certainly makes a number of claims that support this, but I feel like despite his insistence that Milton's objective is to "educate the reader to an awareness of his own condition," he is still fails to comprehend the Arch-fiend's existence as a degenerate condition of humanity.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Power of the Feminine and the Power of the Moon: Eastern Thought in Eden

We've talked about the idea of passivity being the superior trait to dominance. This is a hard concept for our minds to grasp and is at the center of many gender debates right now. Passivity often characterized as a very feminine characteristics and is much less desirable than dominance. However, it seems like all the glorified characters in Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained are as dominant as they are evil. They dominate the books in regards to time and initiation of events. Satan is active. He makes stuff happen! He fights against God, he traverses Chaos. On the other hand, God and Christ are both very reactive and seem to have very little screen time. The GREATEST STORY OF ALL is Christ's reaction to Satan.

One thing that our culture does to throw a wrench in the works or make this seem contradictory is relate greatness to dominance. If, however, we read using the Eastern theories of power, things are easily reconcilable. Take, for example, some popular quotes from Taoist literature:
“The hard and mighty lie beneath the ground
While the tender and weak dance on the breeze above.”
Lao Tzu
“The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.”
Deng Ming-Dao, Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony
Probably the most interesting reading I did this week was from the book The Chinese National Character: From Nationhood to Individuality. In it is addressed the idea that since WWII, American men have fought hard against the idea of relativism and passivity because they defined it as feminine. "In America, the immediate postwar era witnessed a censure of relativism, especially cultural relativism in anthropology, and the rise of a more affirmative attitude toward Western values vis-a-vis the totalitarianism of the Eastern Bloc." Other cultures, including the Chinese culture, do not see it that way. "Our Chinese colleagues objected strenuously whenever the word 'passivity' was used in connection with the Chinese preferences for a life of contemplation." In the eyes of the Chinese, it is the "passive" things (or "feminine" as defined by American ideals) that define success. For example, being well-read and scholarly is often in the form of memorizing poetry and learning languages. Good health is defined by eating light, not necessarily working out. Exercise is walking and badminton not lifting weight. In China, these are ideas of power. Perhaps reading Milton as a modern American inhibits our view of him and the real view of power. Power is less like dominion and more like vulnerability. It is the power to feel, the power to influence. It is the power of the feminine and the power of the moon.

A short post

I'm sorry this post won't be very long.  I'm working on narrowing down my topic so that I can make an actual good thesis.  I'm interested in the topic of overreachers, both contextually in the works of Milton and intertextually in the works of those that he was influenced by and those that he later influenced.  Obviously I don't just want to list examples of overreachers throughout literature, so I'm working on narrowing it to an actual defensible argument.  One thing that intrigues me that I've been trying to look at is the idea of Milton himself as a kind of overreacher.  We've said many times in class that Milton was marked by strong ambition--even sense of destiny--that he had to do something great in his life.  We see examples of this in his writing, most notably in the opening lines of Paradise Lost where he states that he is trying to write a poem "That with no middle flight intends to soar / Above th’ Aonian mount, while it pursues / Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme" (I: 14-16).  Milton had to be aware of his own ambition, seeing as how it is a common theme throughout both Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained.  In PL we see untempered ambition personified in the form of Satan who attempts to usurp the throne of God and fails miserably; while in PR we see the dichotomy of ambition in Christ, someone who is ambitious but who tempers that ambition with patience in waiting on God the Father for instruction.  Which one would Milton have thought of himself as being more like?  Likely, Milton wished he was more like Christ (obviously), while knowing that he was closer to Satan in terms of his level of ambition.  After all, Milton spent his own time in a figurative Hell when he was imprisoned briefly following the Restoration of the monarchy.  Obviously Satan's fall form grace comes from the biblical source, but I can't help but think that part of Milton's inspiration or motivation in writing as eloquently as he did about this fallen angel came from his own experience in over-reaching.

I'm basically thinking out loud in this blog post, which is why it isn't terribly cohesive, for which I hope you'll forgive me.  I like the idea of examining Milton's life and seeing connections between his own experiences and those of the characters that he wrote about.  I also like finding intertextuality between Milton's works (especially PL) and other great works in literature and art.  Anyway, if you have any suggestions on how to narrow this topic down to a concise argument, let me know.  Hopefully my next post will include a real thesis to work off of.  At any rate, I plan on my next post showing more research into secondary sources.


While reading book four of Paradise Regained I was struck by the number of geographical references Milton inserts into his narrative. For example, lines 247-253 read:

"There flowrie hill Hymettus with the sound
Of Bees industrious murmur oft invites
To studious musing; there Ilissus rouls
His whispering stream; within the walls then view
The schools of antient Sages; his who bred
Great Alexander to subdue the world,
Lyceum there, and painted Stoa next:"

I think it's interesting that Milton uses such specific places in his text, and it leads me to assume that he was using what would have been common landmark references to paint a clearer picture of his Greek setting. Incidentally, I didn't recognize any of them, so I did a wee bit of research to more firmly grasp his meaning.

Ilissos circa 1900
The Ilissus, or Ilissos, is river which winds through and around Athens. Used for a defensive perimeter and named after a demigod of the same name, the cannaled waterway was viewed as a peaceful, idyllic setting.

Hymettus is, contrary to Milton's description of a "hill," a mountain range also located in Athens. Also called "Trellos," or "crazy mountain," by its inhabitants, the peaks have been home to marble quarries for thousands of years.

While a lyceum is an educational institution still used in many European countries, the Lyceum proper was a gymnasium and public meeting place in, once again, Athens. Built in a grove of trees, the edifice is most commonly associated with Aristotle's peripatetic school, though it was in existence prior to his endeavors. 

Along with his other references, Milton spends quite a lot of time building up the setting for this section, a move which lends the reader a clearer picture of what he or she is reading as well as stronger ties to the Athenian culture and landscape. I'm curious as to where this pattern pops up in his other works, and how his time in the country aided his descriptive powers.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What is Ambition: Milton's Look at Satan and Jesus

Some things I noticed in Paradise Regained is the portrayal of Christ, and how Milton does it a little differently than in Paradise Lost. In Paradise Lost, Christ is the Son of God who fights against Satan and wins, returning to our Father in Heaven in triumph. However, in Paradise Regained, Christ is a little more vulnerable, showing human weakness, such as feeling hunger and having "dreamed, as appetite is wont to dream / of meats and drinks, nature's refreshment sweet." Milton seems to give Jesus more human qualities as he is now experiencing human temptations.

Another interesting thing is the reference to Christ's ambition. He states in book 1 that he entertained the thought of doing great things, saying, "victorious deeds / flamed in my heart, heroic acts, one while / to rescue Israel from the Roman yoke." Christ, much like Milton seeks to go beyond the usual mark, to do something heroic and achieve things "not yet attained." This reference to Christ's ambition interested me because I usually associated Milton's ambition to be likened to Satan's ambition in Paradise Lost. We linked Satan's ambition and pride to be his downfall. However, now that Christ seems to have ambitions and dreams, it causes me to have a second look at what is driving these characters and what is driving Milton.

I guess the question now is: what purpose does ambition serve? Is it alright to have ambition? Can Christ have ambition like Satan and still be the Son of God? I think maybe the difference that Milton manages to show between Christ and Satan in Paradise Regained is that while Christ, like Satan may have ambitions, he still answered to God. Perhaps where Satan went wrong is that he took it just a little too far. Perhaps that is why when Satan tries to tempt Christ, it doesn't work for a second because Christ has found that balance between ambition and obedience to God. That balance can never be obtained by Satan because he refuses to give a little of his ambitions and listen.  It's an interesting thought, one that I hope to explore a little more in my paper.

To Taste Despair: Satan's Capacity for Sorrow in Paradise Regained

Le Génie du Mal (1848)
One of the topics that I've been looking into as I've compiled my resources for my research paper on the Satan figure in Paradise Lost is his capacity for despair and doubt. Within Paradise Lost itself, there are numerous occasions where it seems almost as though Milton sympathizes with Satan, recognizing his pain and presenting it as masked human emotions. As early as book 1, for example, Milton writes, "So spake th’ apostate angel, though in pain, / Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair" (I:125-126, emphasis mine). Milton emphasizes the inner pain and discouragement that Satan experiences, painting in a way that makes him seem almost human--saying one thing but feeling another, putting on a brave face while cowering within.

As one might perhaps expect, this idea of despair carries over into Paradise Regained as well. I was struck by a particular passage in Book III, where Milton described the tempter as "inly racked" (203). Satan remarks, "[A]ll hope is lost / of my reception into grace; what worse? (204-205). This again shows the conflict between Satan's emotions and his words, though in this instance, the reader understands a bit better the emptiness in his words; we realize that those same words which he's speaking are the words that rack his soul and conscience. The verb "to hope" in Latin is spero, and so de-spair then becomes a state wherein one is deprived of hope. This mirrors the words of Milton's adversary, who says "all hope is lost." He recognizes to some extent the futility of his own struggle, realizing that whether or not Christ reigns, Satan himself is still damned and that success will not bring him out of his despicable state.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Milton: Classical Philosophers vs. Christ...or Lacking an angle

Shorter post, I am still trying to pick a research topic. Slow I know, but I also know the consequences of picking a hasty, malformed one and that is positively torture!

One thing I've really been interested in the whole time is Milton's classical allusions. I might be more excited about them because I've recently taken a class where we have read from a lot of what Milton references so I actually get some of the allusions!

That is where I've gotten a wee bit stuck because what do I argue beyond the obvious? Yep, Milton uses classical allusions. A lot. In nearly every single one of his works. Huge, broad, ugly paper.
But then, I finished reading Paradise Regained and this passage through me for a loop.

[Satan long blurb going on and on about ancient and classical philosophers...]

To whom our Savior sagely thus replied.
"Think not but that I know these things, or think
I know them not; not therefore am I short
Of knowing what I ought: he who receives
Light from above, from the fountain of light,
No other doctrine needs, though granted true;
But these are false, or little else but dreams,
Conjectures, fancies, built on nothing firm.
The first and wisest of them all professed
To know this only, that he nothing knew;
the next to fabling fell and smooth conceits,
A third sort doubted all things, though plain sense...
For all his tedious talk is but vain boast, 
Or subtle shifts conviction to evade.
Alas what can they teach, and not mislead;
Ignorant of themselves, of God much more,
And how the world began, and how man fell
Degraded by himself, on grace depending?"
(IV.287-296, 307-312)

(it goes on for a bit more along the same vein.)
Within the context of the Christ and Satan discussion this makes some sort of sense to me. But when you think about Milton saying it, what does that mean? If there is anyone who loves classical philosophers and connections it is Milton. To say these are "false or little else but dreams" seems to be cutting down/undermining all that Milton has previously written about.
Still working on it...any thoughts?

{ambituity} Absolute Truth is Absolute Ignorance

One major critique of Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained brings up the seeming contradiction between Milton's advocacy of free speech and circulation of knowledge and Raphael's charge to be "lowly wise" or Christ's assertion that he has come as an "inward oracle / To all truth requisite for men to know" asserting that there is only a certain amount of truth men should know, putting this text under much criticism. This contradiction can be resolved, however, if we look at Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained with the Chinese understanding of knowledge.

In most western societies, we see knowledge and truth as something absolute finite. Once obtained, it's something to be declared and shared through speech. As illustration, we have idioms like the following:
  • know the ropes 
  • can't make heads or tails of it 
  • under one's belt 
  • know something backwards and forwards
In Chinese cultures however, knowledge is extraordinarily relative and ambiguous. Because of that, it is not shared with what you say, but how you live or what you feel. They have idioms such as the following:
  • 口說無憑 Words can't be taken as evidence.
  • 信口開河 If you believe in words, you open a river of destruction.
  • 心直口快 If your heart is straight, your mouth will be fast (or you will say what you have to in few words).
  • 知足常樂 To know is enough to make one happy.
  • 不知所措 The root of all mistakes is not knowing.
Or perhaps the most fascinating one with the story attached:

Milton's Vengeful God

As we've already discussed while reading Paradise Lost, God is considered one of the more distant characters. He has little dialogue and usually communicates with Adam via angels. There are times where God seems to be more than just ambiguous and borders on being spiteful.

For example, Milton makes it seem that God created mankind to show Satan that he is replaceable and not missed. Later, in Paradise Regained, Milton explains that Satan has even been allowed into heaven at times, as shown by his accusation of Job. Of course, we all know how well that went for Satan. God seems to have simply let the challenge happen for the sake of showing Satan that he really doesn't have nearly as much power and influence as he may have previously thought.

Paradise Regained

          Not sure if I'm going to be in class today, but I'll be honest...I did not really enjoy Paradise Regained. I don't even really know why because it was just as beautifully written and all... I don't know.
          Anyways, here's what I found amusing was for almost the whole four books, Satan and Christ are arguing back and forth, and this is how their replies are described:

Satan: uttered / answered malcontent / accosts / murmuring thus replied / inly racked replied / impudent replied / with fear abashed replied / with stern brow replied / swoll'n with rage replied

Christ: with unaltered brow / temperately replied / patiently replied / calmly thus replied / fervently replied / answered thus unmoved / sagely thus replied / answered with disdain (finally when Satan starts getting really really annoying and talks bad about God.)

          Christ is just so patient through it all because he knows he's got nothing to worry about--he's not in the wrong, not like Satan is, who is obviously getting flustered about failing to sway Christ.

Humility and "Active Passivity" in Paradise Regained

I had a couple of thoughts as I finished Paradise Regained.  One is concerning the ending.  The final image that Milton chooses to leave us with is of Christ, having just defeated Satan in his temptations, simply returning home.  Milton writes, "Thus they the Son of God our Savior meek / Sung victor, and from Heav’nly feast refreshed / Brought on his way with joy; he unobserved / Home to his mother’s house private returned" (Book IV, ll. 636-639).  It's such a small image to end the story on, especially considering the context.  Jesus has just had his first victory over Satan, he has just partaken of a heavenly feast, and a chorus of angels have just told him "thou hast avenged / Supplanted Adam, and by vanquishing / Temptation, hast regained lost Paradise" and "thy glorious work / Now enter, and begin to save mankind" (Book IV, ll. 606-608, 634-635).  The ending does a couple of things for me:  One is that it again reinforces Christ's humility.  After such a triumph and a praising by the angels of heaven, Christ doesn't have a huge celebration to brag about himself to all of the world, but instead simply returns home to his mother, who has no doubt been worrying about him.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Well Documented Modern Parallel

I've been seriously considering what I'm interested in writing for the final paper, and based off of my previous blog posts, I've decided to deal with Areopagitica and how it applies to what is currently going on with the NSA spying and the Patriot Act. Back in August, I bookmarked an article from the Guardian that I found interesting and important. Of course this is just the beginning of my research. I fully intend to use my information from my other blog posts about censorship to supplement my current research.

The Guardian also posted a video about how the NSA spying affects you:

Essentially, what I'm exploring is how censorship, even in the form of information gathering, hurts progress because people are afraid to speak freely and the government can attack you if you say things they don't like. Censorship in Milton's day was about preventing those types of things from being published in the first place, and the point of the NSA surveillance and the Patriot Act is to make sure you aren't even thinking about saying things that may undermine the government's ideal state, and it's completely legal under the secret "official interpretation" of the Patriot Act.

After the jump break I'll have a couple of the sections I find critical in this article as well as the quotes from Areopagitica that I find particularly illuminating about the issues we're facing with the problems of the Patriot Act and how the NSA interprets it.