[Milton-L] death in Eden.

amy_stackhouse at mindspring.com amy_stackhouse at mindspring.com
Mon Nov 15 20:09:22 EST 2004

Dear Douglas,
Notice that the three subtle images are in the forms of similes.  Satan, who is already fallen, foreshadows the images of death.  We, who are postlapsarian, recognize the similes precisely because we are fallen and we know what Satan is up to.  (The similes would make no sense to a prelapsarian being.)  I don't have Paradise Lost in front of me, but I believe it is early in Book 11 where Adam notices the change in nature, right before Michael appears.  I believe the words "first hunter" are used, which would imply that the blatant image in Book 4 is not one of the lion having killed the kid.  In fact, I believe the lion "dandling" the kid is much like the way an adult might "dandle" a child on his or her knee.  It means to playfully bounce up and down.  I don't have access to the OED at home, so I'm not positive that this meaning of the word was current in Milton's time, but given the context of the quotation, I'm willing to bet it was.  The animals in that scene are playing for Adam and Eve's amusement and the lion displaying his kill might not be particularly amusing, especially since Adam claims that his first glimpse of death is in the image of Cain killing Abel that he has while with Michael in Book 11.

I'm not sure that this helps you with your thesis, but it might serve to complicate your thesis in interesting ways.  And I certainly welcome correction if my readings seem amiss.

Best of luck,

Amy Stackhouse, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English
Iona College
New Rochelle, NY

-----Original Message-----
From: Douglass A Bourne <DA-Bourne at wiu.edu>
Sent: Nov 15, 2004 5:39 PM
To: Milton <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Subject: [Milton-L] death in Eden.

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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