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

J. Michael Gillum mgillum at ret.unca.edu
Sun Oct 27 17:46:56 EDT 2013

Regarding "more sin gets you out": Of course it's interesting to entertain
the notion, but it is certainly not a necessary implication. In allegory of
this sort, exactly like Spenser's, a mimetic element blurs in and out, and
different allegorical valences blur in and out. We shouldn't expect that
every action has to be translated into a single allegorical scheme. Think
what a mess that would make of *The Faerie Queene.*

Sin lets Satan escape because she doesn't care for God, and Satan is her
boyfriend! Plus Satan offers her a huge reward. No need to see this as
allegorical. I'm not sure if even Death's rape of Sin is allegorical. The
little Sinlets are, and Milton needed to provide for their conception. Plus
he is enjoying the gross and grotesque aspects of Sin's career. Of course,
that's Spenserian too.

On Sun, Oct 27, 2013 at 3:51 PM, Horace Jeffery Hodges <
horacejeffery at gmail.com> wrote:

> Maybe the solution is 'stupid' because there is no solution. At best,
> Milton can note that sin is the 'key' to entering Hell, so if sin can open
> the gates to admit sinners, then . . . but the allegory breaks down because
> Milton surely doesn't mean that sin gets you into Hell and more sin can get
> you out!
> Unless he's more heretical than previously imagined . . .
> Jeffery Hodges
> Ewha Womans University
> Seoul, South Korea
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>  (*The Bottomless Bottle of Beer*)
> Blog: http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ (*Gypsy Scholar*)
> Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in the Gospel of John and Gnostic
> Texts"
> Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
> M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
> B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University
> Home Address:
> Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
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> On Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 4:39 AM, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Louis --
>> Thanks very much for the response. I don't mean to call the entire
>> episode stupid. Remember, I did take pleasure in it as well. I only meant
>> to claim that its function as an explanation of how Satan gets out of Hell
>> is rather stupid. Elsewhere in PL Milton seems to be aware of conceptual
>> problems associated with his narrative, such as the guilt of the snake, and
>> he addresses them. We may or may not be satisfied with his solutions, but
>> at least he offers them. I've just reread the Sin and Death episode, and I
>> don't see a solution to what I perceive as a conceptual failing offered
>> here, but I do still take pleasure in the imaginative qualities of the
>> episode. I can see how an episode such as this one can inspire Blake and
>> how it would make for great film.
>> Here's another way that I would rephrase the problem that I see with this
>> part of the narrative: Is it credible that the God of PL couldn't see this
>> coming?
>> SIN:
>> The key of this infernal Pit by due, [ 850 ]
>> And by command of Heav'ns all-powerful King
>> I keep, by him forbidden to unlock
>> These Adamantine Gates; against all force
>> Death ready stands to interpose his dart,
>> Fearless to be o'rmatcht by living might. [ 855 ]
>> But what ow I to his commands above
>> Who hates me, and hath hither thrust me down
>> Into this gloom of Tartarus profound,
>> To sit in hateful Office here confin'd,
>> Inhabitant of Heav'n, and heav'nlie-born, [ 860 ]
>> Here in perpetual agonie and pain,
>> With terrors and with clamors compasst round
>> Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed:
>> Thou [SATAN] art my Father, thou my Author, thou
>> My being gav'st me; whom should I obey [ 865 ]
>> But thee, whom follow? thou wilt bring me soon
>> To that new world of light and bliss, among
>> The Gods who live at ease, where I shall Reign
>> At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems
>> Thy daughter and thy darling, without end. [ 870 ]
>> Of course Sin feels more loyalty to Satan than to God. Do we need to be
>> God to figure that out?
>> I'm only offering one criticism of one feature of the episode, though. I
>> don't mean for my claim here to exhaust everything important and
>> interesting that can be said about the episode, which I agree would be
>> mistaken to attempt. I would say in fact that even the failure is
>> instructive, perhaps revealing something about attitudes towards authority
>> and towards rebellion. If I were to develop my ideas along those lines, I
>> may be led to say something rather interesting about this episode, but that
>> wouldn't mean that the episode wasn't flawed: my (hopefully) interesting
>> remarks would only be possible because of the flaw.
>> Now suppose I took back my language calling this feature of the episode
>> stupid and only suggested that I see a serious conceptual problem in terms
>> of narrative development? Milton gives Sin the keys to the gates of Hell in
>> keeping with the allegory, but in the process makes his God look rather
>> ridiculous because Sin then rather predictably lets Satan go. How might you
>> respond to that criticism? I realize I should reread Bk 3 as well, but I
>> haven't yet.
>> Jim R
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