The “blind” narrator opens Book 3: how does he describe himself and his dependency on
grace? With whom does he link himself? How do you feel about him? Why is creating
the poem such a crucial aspect of his existence? (Like Satan, in a way, he too has lost a
glimpse of the beautiful world—and he uses the poem to call up the wonders of creation,
to give himself a world in its absence, to sing things back into place. Think about a blind
man—uttering these words in the dark to himself. It’s something—Milton in the darkness
invoking the Light. Maybe it really was empowering? Doubtless.
I’ve suggested already that Milton “pairs” Books 2 and 3 so that we’ll catch both the
parallels between Satan and God—and the departures too.
The first thing we’ll want to consider is Why Satan encourages a debate about strategy in
the first place. Why does he think “full counsel” will mature their plans? How does he
“guide” the choices they make at the same time (Who can think submission: war, then,
War, open or understood). He makes it pretty clear that the confrontation must be
ongoing, that no peaceful arbitration is what he’ll sign on for).
His platform presents one
of two options in carrying out WAR: 1) Direct War or 2) “treacherous, subversive,
“terrorist” warfare. There aren’t any other options for him.
So—since he wants everyone “maturing” his original plan, why is this talk important to
him? How does this illuminate how he wants his “angel-legions” to conceive of his
“rule”? They have a say, a voice, a part. (In this respect, we see free speech issues,
openness to governing, reflective considerations about who participates and how they
participate in the “process”). Even talking itself suggests a kind of freedom to voice one’s
own position, even if it goes against everyone else’s. This is the place where it can
happen. But this, at the same time makes Satan a little vulnerable. What if no one wants
to follow his plan? What if he’s all alone in it? (Of course, Satan’s already “set up” the
situation ahead of time, politically. He’s got someone who’ll argue for his agenda if
things break down. He’s like the person who’s gone behind the scenes before the “board”
meeting to make certain that his agenda gets the most play. He’s already lobbied, to some
extent, to make it happen, before anyone ever starts talking.
How much talking is there in heaven, on the other hand? God does a lot of talking
(mostly to his only Son, and once He asks a question of the angelic legions), but he
doesn’t ask for them to put forward a plan does He? Why not? His knowledge is total. He
already sees what has to happen and how it has to happen and why it has to happen. How
does this tie into the discussion of predestination versus free will? Why does God bring
this up, after all? (Milton wants to Justify the ways of God to man; if the whole thing is
already predetermined from the outset, how “just” can that finally be?).
OK, we’ll come back to this question in a moment. Let’s look at how each “cosmic”