[Milton-L] The War in Heaven

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Sun Jul 9 15:05:42 EDT 2006

Hello Mike,

And hello all, this is a maiden post, and I'm not a proper Miltonist.

I think Abraham Stoll in a recent article  in Milton Studies (2005 pp 
179-202) does a good job of explaining why the treatment is 
necessarily uneven-- "a disjunction between the war narrative's need 
for important action, and the poem's doctrinal need for an absolutely 
transcendent--omnisicent and omnipotent--God."  That is, God could 
vaporize the rebels in an instant, but that doesn't make much of a 
story. So Milton imagines God let the war go on for two full days in 
order to give the good angels a chance to prove their loyalty, and 
then lets the Son end it to prove he deserves the kingship of heaven. 
Otherwise the fighting is pointless, since the angels can't seriously 
hurt each other. Some think Milton blew off the war narrative as a 
semi-burlesque-- see Arnold Stein's book or his 1951 article in ELH.

Miichael Gillum

>Our reading group is arguing about The War In Heaven.   Some think 
>it is a brilliant summation of the struggle in Paradise Lost, but 
>others are convinced is that the tale is inconsistent, and was 
>Milton's attempt to draw out his epic to make it fit the epic 
>structure.    Can anyone help me?  Thank-you
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