[Milton-L] Bk 3 and Jeffrey Shoulson's link

Schwartz, Louis lschwart at richmond.edu
Sun Oct 27 17:31:07 EDT 2013

There are some pretty compelling passages in the poem that suggest of course that you can’t “escape Hell,” just by leaving the place that’s given that name.  I’m not in complete agreement with where Michael or Richard take the lines of argument they follow out (from this passage or the speeches in Book 3), but I think we can all agree that Milton, nod though he might from time to time, was not so simple-minded or inattentive as to accidentally include that kind of narrative contradiction in the poem.  It’s not a contradictory flaw; it’s (for better or worse) a device designed to make you think and feel your way through a set of consequential questions in unexpected and unaccustomed ways.


Louis Schwartz
Professor of English
English Department
University of Richmond
28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA  23173
(804) 289-8315
lschwart at richmond.edu<mailto:lschwart at richmond.edu>

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of James Rovira
Sent: Sunday, October 27, 2013 5:11 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Bk 3 and Jeffrey Shoulson's link

I very much like this turn of the discussion. Perhaps the the simplest way to say it is that a problem with the Sin and Death episode of Book 2 is that Sin is able to get you into hell and also to let you out of it?

That's not a problem Biblically, because sin is not a person. It's a quality attached to objects, persons, or things. Since sin is not a volitional agent, sin then can get you into hell but of course can't let you out of it.

Now if Milton's personification of sin leads us to conclusions that seem to be obviously contrary to Milton's beliefs, then isn't that also a flaw in the episode?

I agree with Jeffery that it seems implausible that Milton would believe that we can sin our way out of hell, but there have been groups who have asserted something like this in the past.

Jim R

On Oct 27, 2013, at 4:44 PM, Horace Jeffery Hodges <horacejeffery at gmail.com<mailto:horacejeffery at gmail.com>> wrote:
Michael Bryson asked:

"And is it really so hard to imagine?"

It can't be so hard since even I managed to imagine it . . . but defending it? That's the hard part . . .

Jeffery Hodges
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