[Milton-L] death in Eden.

Douglass A Bourne DA-Bourne at wiu.edu
Mon Nov 15 16:39:37 EST 2004

I am a graduate student taking a Milton seminar.  Soon I must have a working 
thesis statement to present to the class.  I could use some guidance in a 
couple of areas.  I want to explore death in Eden.  
I am working with four images, three subtle and one blatant.  The three subtle 
images involve Satan:  “As when a prowling Wolf, / Whom hunger drives to seek 
new haunt for prey” (IV 183,184).  “Sat like a Cormorant” (IV 196).  A 
Cormorant eats dead things.  “A Lion now he stalks with fiery glare, / Then as 
a Tiger, who by chance hat spi’d / In some Purlieu two gentle Fawns at play, / 
Straight couches close, then rising changes oft / His couchant watch, as one 
who chose his ground / Whence rushing he might surest seize them both / Gript 
in each paw” (IV 402-408).  Satan wants to kill the deer but gets distracted by 
Adam and Eve.
The blatant image is also from book four.  A lion has a kid in its 
paws.  “Sporting the Lion ramp’d, and in his paw / Dandl’d the Kid” (343,344).  
I checked the OED for definitions of the words out my (our) present usage and 
it does indeed sound like the lion has killed a kid.
The problems that I am having are that I can’t find scholarship on death in 
Eden.  I know there is a debate of something like; did nature fall before man?  
Yet I can’t find scholarship on the fall of nature.  Since Milton does have 
some images of death in Eden I would like to explore possibly what that says 
about the fall of nature.  Is death allowed in Eden for nature, without nature 
falling?  If that is the case then Milton sets Adam and Eve clearly apart from 
nature.  Nature has death, yet Adam and Eve do not.  Plus the lions, tigers and 
bears (oh my), don’t think of Adam and Eve as food.
I am sure that I am not blazing a new trail.  There must be some articles at 
least somewhat related to this idea.  But I am so frustrated with not being 
able to find articles I’m thinking of scraping the idea.  Is a paper on this 
idea feasible?  If so, are there some essays that I should read?  
I appreciate any and all guidance.
Douglass Bourne
Graduate Assistant
Western Illinois University

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