Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coming Attractions: Paradise Lost, Books III and IV

Just to keep track some of the questions which we have been asking about Paradise Lost.

1. In what ways does the poem register political defeat or loss? In a more general sense, in what sense is the poem political? Does Satan really give voice to Milton's own claims for liberty? In what way might Milton qualify a reader's initial enthusiasm in identifying the perspective of Satan with that of the poet?

2. What are the different narrative perspectives present in Paradise Lost? Is there suspense in the poem? When a reader feels suspense, what point of view - or perspective on narrative - would she be adopting? How do such issues of narrative relate to other questions we raised - about time and free will?

3. What is the psychology of defeat for the Satanic host? What are the ways in which the various devils cheer themselves up?

4. Are the devils (and the angels who we are about to meet in Book IV) physical? spiritual? Does it make a difference?

For next time, some preliminary questions:

1. What kind of vision does Milton claim for himself in the poetic invocation to Book III?

2. How does Milton further refine conceptions of free will and determinism in book III? Doesn't Milton indulge in the same philosophical thoughts as the devils who the poet figures in Book II 'in wandering mazes lost"?

3. Why is Milton's God so boring?

4. Are there significant differences between Satan's volunteering to fly to earth in Book II and Jesus' volunteering in Book III? Do both Satan and Jesus want glory? Is there a difference?

4. How does Milton represent Adam and Eve in Book IV? How does Milton represent gender? sexuality? Is Milton a misogynist?

5. How does Milton represent Eden? In Book III, Milton claims he is going to represent things 'invisible to mortal sight' - how does he do that in relationship to Eden?

6. What is Milton's attitude towards marriage?

Watch this space for clarifications and additions.

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