[Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)

Judith H. Anderson anders at indiana.edu
Mon Jul 7 20:34:26 EDT 2008


I particularly like your succinctly stated point.  At the very least the 
grammatical construction to which you refer indicates Eve's resistance: 
"I, methought, / Could not but taste."  Of course it also signals a lack 
of rationally willed assent.

I have a further thought, or question.  In The Faerie Queene, the initial 
erotic dream that Redcrosse experiences in Book I comes from both inside 
and outside--that is, from the tempter Archimago (arch-image, arch-magus; 
also Roman Catholicism) and simultaneously from within the knight himself. 
But Archimago, who is the "old man," the old Adam, on a continuum with the 
nature of Redcrosse (Everyman), has immediate access to the knight's 
imagination.  Redcrosse, of course, is fallen, and the immediate access of 
the "old man" is the point here.

Now my question.  Why does Satan have access to unfallen Eve's fantasy, a 
faculty that reflects the sensible world, albeit also tenuously connected 
to the mind's higher powers?

Here are some imaginings.  Has Eve, sometimes described as the more poetic 
of the Edenic pair, somehow intuited Satan's presence in the garden? Late 
in the poem, she finds God in sleep, and dreams to advise (XII.611). How 
otherwise are her own senses, aside from normal exterior affections, 
available to Satan as she sleeps?  Does Milton subscribe to pneumatic 
exchanges between beings (e.g., Neoplatonic)?  Is Eve so porous (not 
necessarily as woman, but simply as human) that Satan, as a spirit (albeit 
a debased one), has immediate access whenever her reason (or rational 
will) sleeps?  Is this an unattractive flip-side of Milton's monism?

Most explanations of Eve's dream deal with her *internal* workings, as 
does Adam's--aside from Evil, Adam's reified abstraction and intuited 
(non-)reality--as cause.  I'm interested in the external aspects of 
the dream, which are presumably crucial--that is, without Satan, no dream? 
How is Satan on a continuum with the unfallen Eve's fantasy?


Judith H. Anderson
Chancellor's Professor
Department of English
Indiana University
1020 E. Kirkwood Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405-7103

On Sun, 6 Jul 2008, Judith Herz wrote:

> But.... Eve never says that she ate.  It is an action without agency.
> Judith Herz
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael Gillum" <mgillum at unca.edu>
> To: "milton-l" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> Sent: Sunday, July 06, 2008 5:45 PM
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Abdiel (thought-sins)
>> On 7/6/08 4:44 PM, "Harold Skulsky" <hskulsky at email.smith.edu> wrote:
>> [snip]> As will be clear in a few short paragraphs, I have reason to doubt
>>> that I ever identified Dream Eve with Eve.
>>> Call the series of dreamed events S. For Eve to dream that S is
>>> happening to her is
>>>              (a) for Eve to be asleep,
>>>              (b) for Eve to be encountering S-APPEARANCES but no
>>>              (c) for Eve to mistake the S-APPEARANCES for S-REALITIES
>>>              (d) for Eve (as a result of (c)) to respond to the
>>> S-APPEARANCES as if they were S-REALITIES.
>>> Given (a-d), it is Eve (and not a Dream Eve) who is doing the dreaming,
>>> i.e., who is taken in  by empty S-appearances she encounters, and who
>>> responds to the S-appearances in various ways < for example, by "damp
>>> horror" and by irresistibly desiring apples she SEEMS to be seeing,
>>> smelling, etc.
>>> In short, there is no conceptual work here for a Dream Eve to do <
>>> [snip]
>> Sorry to have misrepresented your position.
>> A question: why does Eve in the dream feel an irresistible compulsion to
>> eat? ("I, me thought, / Could not but taste.") Is that a normal response of
>> Eve, the person, or of any normal person, to the S-appearances of the 
>> fruit?
>> To me it suggests some difference between the dream-self and the proper
>> self. If we suppose that some of her responses are being manipulated, then
>> she is not quite herself.
>> Michael
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