Sunday, November 17, 2013


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.

I've noticed quite a variety of instances where different characters exhibit hunger. Satan hungers for power and control, Adam for companionship and approval, and Eve for acceptance and divine direction. In Paradise Regained Christ obviously hungers physically, but I think this can be also interpreted as a hunger for His divine mission. I don't think hunger is necessarily a negative thing, and I think whether or not it is sheds some light on how Milton wanted the reader to view his characters. There's also a running thread of voluntary starvation, whether physical, spiritual, or otherwise, and I think this ties in.

I'm starting off by finding quotes from the text. A few I've found include:

  • "Nor tasted humane food, nor hunger felt
    Till those days ended, hunger'd then at last
    Among wild Beasts: they at his sight grew mild, ( PR Book I:308-10)"
    • Christ's descent into physical hunger: 
  • "But now I feel I hunger, which declares,
    Nature hath need of what she asks; yet God
    Can satisfy that need some other way,
    Though hunger still remain: so it remain 
    Without this bodies wasting, ( PR Book II:252-56)"
    • An instance of Christ's rejection of hunger, voluntary starvation
  • For while I sit with thee, I seem in Heav'n,
    And sweeter thy discourse is to my eare
    Then Fruits of Palm-tree pleasantest to thirst
    And hunger both, from labour, at the houre
    Of sweet repast; (Book VIII:210-14)"
    • Adam's need/hunger for Eve
  • "There is a place [ 345 ]
    (If ancient and prophetic fame in Heav'n
    Err not) another World, the happy seat
    Of some new Race call'd Man, about this time
    To be created like to us, though less
    In power and excellence, but favour'd more ( PR Book II:345-50)"
    • Satan exhibiting hunger for favoritism and power
I'm having a wee bit of trouble finding credible contemporary sources for this assignment, but I shall keep trying. As to peer-reviewed articles, I've found several that I think will be useful.
  • Desiring angels: the Angelic Body in Paradise Lost / Karma DeGruy
  • Milton and the Pursuit of Happiness / Catherine Gimelli Martin
  • The Fall of Tydeus and the Failure of Satan: Statius' Thebaid , Dante's Commedia , and Milton's Paradise Lost / George F Butler
  • Silver, Victoria. Imperfect SenseThe Predicament of Milton's Irony. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001. 
All of these articles are very obviously on different topics than mine, but as I've read through them I think I can use parts to support my ideas and draw new connections. I'll also try to contact these writers. I think I'm going to focus on how Satan, Adam and Eve, and Christ deal with their hunger, since their methods and outcomes are all so drastically different. I'm obviously still narrowing my topic, but I think this framework will provide me with the proper context as I do more research.


  1. Wow, interesting and great connection. Hunger we normally associate with the mortal frame but there are so many instances where Satan and Christ exhibit the same or a variation thereof. I'll be interested to see where you go with it! This biggest question that occurs to me right now, is from what direction you will take the angle/argument of the idea and push.

  2. I think it will be useful to identify three or four types of hunger that Milton deals with in his works and then find articles based around those three or four types. I would think you would be able to find plenty of articles if you can more specifically name the subjects you're writing on.

    Great idea. I'm sure it will develop swimmingly.