[Milton-L] Re: The Failure of Milton's Theodicy

Mike Streeter mike_streeter at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 10 14:25:14 EST 2005

Thank you Margaret for the Tennyson line and everyone
else for your insightful responses to my question.  I
will be sure to explore Peter’s list of scholarship on
this theme.  I also agree with Mitch that the purpose
of theodicy is much more narrow and precise than
simply “justifying the wayes of God to men.”  And
because it is exclusively concerned with suffering,
the prelapsarian couple of Adam and Eve cannot
participate in Milton’s theodicy until after the Fall,
which ensues very late in the poem.  Their absence
then magnifies Satan’s role to an even higher degree
and demonstrates my argument further.

And to answer Jim’s question,

My paper will certainly embark from Blake’s severance
of intention and execution in Paradise Lost but I will
seek to reconcile the two subjects as well.  The Son
is, for example, a radical inverse of Satan and he
amends the theodicy by reversing the devil’s critique
of God.  And though Jesus is not yet incarnate at the
end of the poem, there is nevertheless the prospect of
his arrival.  So as Mitch already suggested, perhaps
Satan is temporarily counterfeiting Milton’s theodicy
(as he does with heroism) until it is truly manifested
in Paradise Regained.  But during the interlude, the
bulk of the reader’s instruction is received from
Satan’s catastrophic failure to make sense of his
suffering with God’s omnibenevolence.

Mike Streeter
mike_streeter at yahoo.com - email

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