paradise lost paper

paradise lost paper - Kelsey Schur General Survey of...

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Kelsey Schur General Survey of English Literature 1 – Haber Paper 3 December 14 th , 2007 Sin Speaks What's a girl to do to when she's slept with her father, and now she wants him to recognize their son? Today, the girl could strut onto the stage of Jerry Springer and confront her father with the (in)famous mediator. Unfortunately for Sin, there was no Jerry Springer in the Hell of John Milton's Paradise Lost . When Satan approached the gate of Hell and challenged Death to let him pass, Sin needed to convince him of her identity and not to attack his son, Death, all alone. Further, though Satan didn't remember her, and she was half-serpent, half-woman, she had to make him remember she was both his daughter and his former lover. That aside, what does an author do when he has just shown his readers a less-than-horrid vision of Hell and Satan, and now wants them to see how evil both truly are? He employs all of his powers of comparison, specific language, and metaphor. Within Sin's account of her creation, her pregnancy, and her current plight, Milton interweaves his case for the true terror of Hell. He does this partly through comparisons between the Hellish couple and the first humans, Adam and Eve. He also illustrates Hell by building second and sometimes even third meanings into Sin's statements using careful language. Finally, he uses metaphor to incorporate messages about the dangers of sin. Simultaneously, with one speech, Sin succeeds in convincing Satan that she speaks the truth, while Milton shows the alert reader that though Satan seems heroic and charismatic, everything is twisted by evil in Hell. Satan and Sin parallel Adam and Eve, but instead of being copies of the famed parents of humankind, Satan and Sin are a perversion of Adam and Eve. The most obvious signal that Satan and Sin are meant to parallel Adam and Eve comes from the specific detail that Sin springs from the left side of Satan's head, and Eve also sprung from Adam's left side. Of course, there are significant
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differences between Sin's and Eve's creations. Eve's creation is a relatively peaceful experience for Adam in which he retains his sight and consciousness of what is occurring. The world felt joy at the birth of Eve and celebrated her marriage with Adam. For Satan, when Sin is born the world goes black, and his skull catches fire. When Sin appears in Satan's assembly of rebel Seraphim, they initially recoil from her and regard her as something ill. Further, Sin's creation is analogous to that of Athena, the Greek goddess of war and strategy, who was born from Zeus's head. While Sin is referred to as “. ..a goddess armed” (757), Eve is often analogized to Proserpina, a goddess of nature and fertility. The reader sees through this comparison that while Eve's birth brings joy and new fertility to the world, Sin can bring only strife. Satan contains aspects of both Adam and Eve; this in itself is not strange because Milton states
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This note was uploaded on 03/29/2008 for the course ENG 21 taught by Professor Haber during the Spring '08 term at Tufts.

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paradise lost paper - Kelsey Schur General Survey of...

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