[Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Sun Jul 6 12:26:08 EDT 2008



Kim Maxwell,
Thanks for a rich and thought-provoking post, but could you explain how, in
your view, Adam¹s first speech to Eve (4.411 etc.) is confused? To me it
seems clear and right in outlining the rational basis for grateful
obedience. He doesn¹t know what death is, but he infers correctly that it is
dreadful. Of course, ³Dearer thyself than all² could be ominous on second
reading of the poem, but here he speaks innocently of the joys of Paradise.

Jim R,
It seems the scope of our disagreement is narrowing. After reflection, Adam
attributes the dream to random processes independent of Eve¹s moral nature,
but he does identify it as ³evil,² repeated three times. My claims have not
gone much beyond what you say here: ³I'm not saying some knowledge of evil
hasn't been communicated to Eve, however.  She now knows how it makes her
feel when she sees it, and that it is bad and contrary to her nature.  But
this isn't the subjective knowledge of evil she will have after she has
fallen, when it really is a part of who she is.³

In seeing the dream as a movie projected by Satan into Eve¹s mind, you draw
a bright line between Eve and Dream Eve, except for Eve experiencing the
illusion that they are one. But if we go back to the passage about Satan
tampering with Eve¹s animal spirits (4.804 etc), he probably caused sleeping
Eve to entertain vain thoughts and ambitions that project onto Dream Eve
through Eve¹s internal processes. In this case, Eve as subject, though still
sinless, would be more involved in the dream than you suppose. However, the
narrator expresses the possibility of such tampering as a ³Miltonic or.²

Freud was only partly wrong to say the pre-moderns believed dreams come from
God or other supernatural agents. That was one possibility, since the OT is
full of dreams that come from God. The other and more usual source of the
dream was the fancy, sometimes affected by physiological disturbance.
(Pertelote advises Chaunteclere to take a laxative.)

Michael

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