[Milton-L] Help my foggy brain

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Fri Mar 30 15:42:11 EDT 2012


I just reread Millicent Bell's 1953 article and enjoyed its lucidity
(marvellous by today's standards). The argument--highly original as far as
I know--can be summed up by these snippets:

*“what Milton has shown us throughout the action is fallen Man. . . .” *

* *

*If “the Fall is only the climax of self-realization reached by human- kind
already fallen, then it was not only inevitable, but necessary. Once the
sinfulness of Adam and Eve is established, it is only along this road
followed to its bitter terminus that they may pass to redemption.”***

*
*

Contrary to my hazy recollection, she doesn't discuss the question of God
bearing blame for the faulty creation. She takes the already-fallen
condition as a given. There is nothing in the article about fallen/unfallen
language or about the environment of Paradise.


To what extent does the text support her reading? Well, the narrator
describes Eve as "yet sinless" on the morning before the Fall. If we attend
to the speeches and behavior of Eve and Adam before and after their
"technical" falls (Bell's expression), we see in both cases a radical
change in their moral natures for the worse. (I take Adam's fall to occur
at 9.507, "Certain my resolution is to die," so that his subsequent speech
is a fallen speech even though he has not yet tasted the fruit.)
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