[Milton-L] Directly

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Sat Jul 29 15:16:50 EDT 2006

>[MB wrote] Given all this, how can we understand "directly"?

I think if we look at the immediate context, we can understand 
"directly" as an accurate description of what is going on at the time 
of speaking and of Satan's intention for the immediate future. When 
previously seen, Satan spots the "pendant World" adjacent to Heaven 
and "hies" toward it (2.1050 ff). At the moment the Father speaks, 
Satan is cruising between Heaven and the World (cosmos) as he 
anticipates landing on the latter:

Coasting the wall of Heaven on this side night
In the dun air sublime, and ready now
To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet,
On the bare outside of this World . . . (3.71-74).

The Father at this moment observes, correctly:

  . . . he wings his way
Not far off Heaven, in the precincts of light,
Directly toward the new created World ],
And man there placed. . . . (3.87-89)

One can give a resistant reading of any passage, I suppose, but I 
don't see the point in arguing with the obvious.

As I said in a previous post, I can see the objection  to the 
Father's lines about Satan breaking through all restraint. What God 
says is literally true. However, we may hear in the lines a tone of 
exasperation that seems ill-placed, since the Father didn't try very 
hard to keep Satan in Hell.  Two possible responses are (a) Milton 
did not intend that tone or (b) Milton intended to make the Father 
seem a bit off.

We might note that an aesthetic effect of the passage is to create a 
sense of menace as the implacable enemy descends on his prey (us). 
Possibly Milton was going for that more than intending to 
characterize the Father.

Michael Gillum
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