[Milton-L] help interpret a line

J. Stein stein at cc.usu.edu
Tue Jan 20 21:22:24 EST 2004

This was a very eloquent explanation--who posted it?

>===== Original Message From John Milton Discussion List 
<milton-l at koko.richmond.edu> =====
>"Your fear itself of death removes the fear" sums up the argument of the
>previous four lines.
>The first occurrence of "fear" refers to Eve's fear of death, the
>second refers to her fear of eating the fruit.
>Paraphrase: Eve's desire to avoid death is precisely what should
>"remove" (i.e., invalidate) her fear of a fruit that enables its
>partakers to "know" (recognize) evil and hence avoid it--a fruit that no
>just and hence genuine God would have banned.
>The equivocation on "fear" generates the cadence of  paradoxical wit
>(the verbal scheme is a cyclus, beginning and ending on the same phrase
>or concept). Satan is a virtuoso rhetorician as well as a virtuoso
>In addition to the equivocation on "fear," the argument as a whole
>(including the previous four lines) also equivocates on the notion of
>"knowing evil."
>It's a poisoned argument; Eve knows better than to swallow it--though
>she swallows it anyway.
>As they say in the math texts, I leave the untangling of the second
>equivocation (on "knowing evil") as an exercise.
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