[Milton-L] [Flannagan] on O Eve, in evil hour... {SpamScore: sssss}

Roy Flannagan Roy at gwm.sc.edu
Mon Nov 21 09:55:07 EST 2005


Sorry, but I disagree with the "disappointed resignation" approach to Eve's "Serpent, we might have spared our coming hither" business.  Of course she is unwary when the Serpent surprises her by talking, but by the time they reach the tree, he has flattered her by calling her "Empress" and licking her footsteps, and the game is on.  He is the "spirited sly Snake" and she is, in Adam's fallen words, "longing to be seen / Though by the Devil himself" (10.877-78).  She is also credulous, much deceived, hapless, even if she is sinless before she falls.

Roy Flannagan  



>>> cbartonphd at earthlink.net 11/18/05 8:16 PM >>>
I don't understand your equation of Eve with a flirtatious Madeleine Kahn
here, either, Roy (?). I agree with Ricks that this is a dark moment, and an
utterance of disappointment rather than a time for Southern belle simple:
I'd see it more in line with Eve's thinking that she has found the means to
instant equality with Adam, when the Serpent announces how he came to be
erect, and to have the ability to reason and speak, and as a result I hear
her tone as one of disappointed resignation, as Ricks does: "Oh, that. If I
had known you meant that, I'd have told you beforehand that we needn't have
bothered coming here." At no point in that entire exchange do I see her
"flirting" with the Serpent: she isn't Vivien Leigh batting her eyelashes
and dripping sugar---she's Elizabeth I, trying to strategize a victory, and
nonplussed to discover that the "weapon of mass destruction" she's been
promised is a SCUD missile (for want of a more apt analogy).

Where do you find warrant for her "flirtation"?

Best to all,

Carol Barton


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Roy Flannagan" <Roy at gwm.sc.edu>
To: <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2005 4:23 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Leonard on O Eve, in evil hour...


> O dear.  I may be being simplistic again, but I see some of the problems
in Eve's line "Fruitless to mee, though Fruit be here to excess," as
theological.  Just a few lines later, Eve is described as "Eve yet
sinless"(659), as if Milton were warning us that she has been flirting with
danger, as well as flirting with Satan in the Serpent.  I see the pun on
"fruitless" as evidence of a Satanic flirtation, but I also see the danger
in "excess" theologically, because the fruit in Eden, though it is
luxuriant, cannot be in excess.  Like Eve's "wanton" hair, it may need
pruning occasionally, but there cannot be more fruit than is needed.  (That
may get us into yet another theological debate.)
>
> Loosen up a little and listen to the voice of Madeline Kahn saying "You
big old serpent, you" between the lines as Eve says "Serpent, we might have
spar'd our coming hither," and then goes on with "Fruitless . . . ."  She is
giving in, perhaps innocently but still flirtatiously, to the Serpent's
perspective, since she acknowledges that the Serpent's power of speech is
"Wondrous indeed."  She is sincerely wavering, though she is at this point
sinless.
>
> Roy Flannagan
>
> >>> jleonard at uwo.ca 11/17/05 3:20 PM >>>
> Steve Fallon makes a strong case, and I agree that "Recognizing the eating
> of the apple as 'sinful indulgence'  fits a resolve not to eat it better
> than it fits a prior decision to eat it."  But I still think Ricks is
right
> to attribute the pun on "excess" to Milton rather than to Eve--and I note
> that Steve thinks this too, though not for the reason I gave.  So I guess
it
> behoves me to come up with a better reason.  Here's my best attempt:  if
Eve
> were punning knowingly on "excess" as a sinful indulgence that she is
> determined not to commit, one would  expect her to use some other word
than
> "though" ("Fruitless to me though fruit be here to excess").   One would
> expect an innocent punning Eve to say "Fruitless to me FOR fruit be here
to
> excess" ("for" signalling that the prospect of committing sinful excess is
> her reason for remaining "Fruitless").  The fact that she says "though"
(not
> "for") suggests that she is deaf to the pun on "excess" that we hear, but
> she doesn't.  I suppose one might argue that Eve's "though" signals a
> repressed desire to commit the excess (as in "Fruitless to me, though . .
.
> wow, imagine the excess!"), but I just don't hear the line that way.  To
my
> ears, the dark moment of dramatic irony described by Ricks fits this
moment
> better than any other explanation I have read.  It certainly makes better
> sense than Prince's "one of Milton's sports."
>
> Best,
>
> John
>
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Stephen Fallon" <fallon.1 at nd.edu>
> To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2005 1:25 PM
> Subject: [Milton-L] Leonard on O Eve, in evil hour...
>
>
> > Thanks to John Leonard for directing those who might not know it toward
> > Ricks' wonderful *Milton's Grand Style*, and for his clear analysis of
> > Ricks on 9.647-48.
> >
> > I agree with everything John says except for his argument for why the
pun
> > on "excess" ("Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess") cannot
be
> > Eve's.  He writes, "If Eve were knowingly punning on 'excess' as 'sinful
> > indulgence,' the implication would be that she has already decided to
> > fall. But the whole point of her pun on 'Fruitless' is that she does
*not*
> > intend to eat the apple--not yet." I agree with Ricks and with John that
> > the pun is not Eve's, but not for John's reason.  One could as easily
> > argue that a knowing pun on 'excess' would fit her as yet to be broken
> > resolve not to eat the apple.  Recognizing the eating of the apple as
> > "sinful indulgence" fits a resolve not to eat it better than it fits a
> > prior decision to eat it.
> >
> > John is one of the very best readers of Milton, so I write with an
uneasy
> > sense that I may be missing something.
> >
> > Steve Fallon
> >
> >
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