[Milton-L] Abdiel

Sara van den Berg vandens at slu.edu
Sun Jun 29 18:11:09 EDT 2008

In traditional theology, there are three conditions that must be met for an
action to be a sin:  (1) serious matter; (2) sufficient reflection; and (3)
full consent of the will.  The interdiction makes Eve and Adam's eating
serious matter.  The monologues are not themselves sinful, but meet the
condition of "sufficient reflection."

Eve meets all three conditions. Eve knows the act would be serious(IX.652).
The first part of her soliloquy is a set of questions of reflection
(IX.758-779).  Then she acts: "she pluck't, she ate" (IX.780).  Her second
sin is to involve Adam, and her soliloquy turns her from tempted to
tempter.  She introduces a set of non-rhetorical questions (as she wonders
whether or not to tell Adam) mixed with one rhetorical question ("for
inferior who is free?).  She then declares full consent of her will to tempt
Adam: "Confirm'd then I resolve,/ Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe"
(IX.830-31). When she sees him, she acts.

Adam's soliloquy indicates similar reflection.  He knows Eve has fallen.  He
considers what he should do, and confirms his decision: "for with thee /
Certain my resolution is to die."  Finally, when he eats, he does so very
deliberately: "he scrupl'd not to eat / Against his better knowledge, not
deceav'd. . ." (IX.998-999).

The soliloquies are not themselves a "sin," but fulfill a condition that is
necessary if the act of eating is to be a sin.

Sara van den Berg

On Sun, Jun 29, 2008 at 1:40 PM, <jfleming at sfu.ca> wrote:

> On Tue, 24 Jun 2008 15:36:34 -0400 milton-l at lists.richmond.edu wrote:
> >I wonder if there are other interior monologues by
> > unfallen characters in the poem besides Abdiel's at 6.114.
> >
> I believe I can answer that. The answer is "none" -- with two exceptions.
> Both Adam and Eve have inner (that is to say, mental and non-locutionary)
> monologues immediately before they fall. In both cases, moreover, the
> monologues appear to be productive of the fatal decisions they take. JD
> Fleming
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