[Milton-L] Satan and Resentment

Salwa Khoddam skhoddam at cox.net
Sat Jan 29 13:24:34 EST 2011


"The Adversary continues his revolt against Heaven when he has nothing to show for it but his dissatisfied resentment and greater depths of fallenness," from Jeffery's blog.  Also, "large-scale resentment motivates Satan. He resents what he feels as a personal impairment to him in the elevation of the Son."  

Resentment is certainly the efficient cause for Satan's rebellion, his harping on "injur'd merit," and so on.  But what kept him in the act of sinning is the false concept that he and the devils can take their "revenge" in some way.  However, in my opinion, Milton brings up a Christian belief in explaining Satan's sin, that what drives sinners to continue in the wrong path is "despair," the antithesis of Christian hope.  See his speech on Mount Niphates in Book 4.  Satan spirals into despair and therefore sin, as he rationalizes that God "loves thee not" and so gives himself the green light to continue in sin:  "Me miserable! which way shall I fly / Infinite wrath, and infinite despair" (4.73-74).  Despair, which can be associated with the sin of acedia, one of the medieval seven deadly sins, was a common antithesis of Christian hope in early modern British literature.  Faustus goes through the same process of rationalizing his sin which leads him to despair, and therefore more sin.
Best Wishes,

Salwa



Salwa Khoddam, Ph.D.
Professor of English, Emerita
Oklahoma City University
2501 N. Blackwelder
OKC, OK  73106
Phone:  405-208-5127
Email:  skhoddam at cox.net
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Horace Jeffery Hodges 
  To: John Milton Discussion List 
  Sent: Friday, January 28, 2011 6:49 PM
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Satan and Resentment


  Interesting ideas, Terrance, but I'm not sure that Anselm's ontological argument works for any but the most perfect being. If Satan exists, then as a contingent being, he need not exist in all possible worlds, but in whatever worlds he has existence, then I would agree that he would have to be playing a role in the larger purposes of the most perfect being, i.e., God.

  But that throat-clearing out of the way, I would argue that large-scale resentment motivates Satan. He resents what he feels as a personal impairment to him in the elevation of the Son.

  Interestingly, however -- if my checking is correct -- Milton only one time uses the term "resent" (and never uses "resentment"), and only with respect to Adam and Eve in their unfallen state early in Book 9. I'm not certain what to make of that. One would expect an important theme to be thematized.

  Perhaps it's because the terms resent and resentment only came into use in English in the 1600s:

  http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=resent&searchmode=none

  Still, it looks to me that resentment motivates Satan even if the term is missing.

  Jeffery Hodges

  PS My old alma mater, Baylor University is having a King James Bible conference April 7-9, 2011, as I just found out.

  http://www.isreligion.org/events/400-years-of-the-king-james-bible/


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  From: Terrance Lindall <tlindall at gmail.com>
  To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
  Sent: Fri, January 28, 2011 7:52:20 AM
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Satan and Resentment


  I do not think that mere small-minded resentment compels Satan. Nor did it guide Captain Ahab and Captain Nemo. It is a larger than life necessary madness in fulfilling their destinies as to what they are as great spiritual types.  Satan is fulfilling his required task in the scheme of God’s creation. Satan was a necessity in God’s creation. Just as St. Anselm’s ontological argument proves a priori the necessary existence of God, so it also proves the necessary existence of Satan as the perfect antithesis, as a perfect idea. All perfect ideas are in the mind of God. I think that Milton understands this and embellishes Satan’s character with great attributes of nobility, good qualities in and of themselves used ironically in subverting the good works of God...a kind f ultimate evil! All this is necessary in the permutations and combinations of possibility becoming actuality until this universe plays itself out perfectly…in the Mind of God. All quite remarkable and inspiring to think about…



  On Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 11:26 PM, Horace Jeffery Hodges <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com> wrote:

    I posted some thoughts on Satan and resentment on my blog today:



    http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/2011/01/fallen-angels-implacable-resentment-was.html





    And I wondered if much has been written on the topic. I dd find this:



    http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=619





    "Recovering Resentment: A Reflection on Disgust, Empathy, and Milton's Satan," by Brad D. Baumgartner 





    I've not yet had time to read it, however.



    Jeffery Hodges


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