Friday, 11 March 2016

The Author/Narrator Difficulties- Who Really Speaks?

The short introduction is narrated by an omniscient, third person narrator. But in the main body of the text are the first person narrator who uses third person narrative to report the characters' proceedings to us.
  • After Satan's soliloquy, the narrator words are scarce + intertwine with the characters' monologues in the form of short comments on who is speaking and the tone. The narrator is then reduced to structuring the characters' narrative. Reminds us of stage directions- dramatic, theatrical qualities. 
  • Elaborate soliloquies and monologues gives characters a degree of narrative authority. First person, subjective narrative

First person narrative is not reliable- not omniscient and subjective. If our narrator is not all knowing than how can he narrate biblical events with the focus on emotional depth and insights into Adam, Eve and Satan. Possible for 3rd person narrator but uses the 'I'- enables the narrator's objectivity. 

Narrator draws the reader into the narrative by using 'we', highlighting the reader's equality to the narrator. Technique is slightly rhetoric- forms a bond between the narrator and reader as equal moral standing= same guilt and shame of the original sin. 

Poem scripted by the author. Work is not all art but a religious revalation, inspired by divine forces- not Milton. But possibility it's him- narrator's racist remark about Native American people in A + E's downfall:

"To that first naked Glorie. Such of late
Columbus found th'American so girt/
With feathered Cincture, naked else and wilde."

Newly fallen Adam compared to the Native American colonised by European empires. Compares Adam's worst traits with the Native American people is an echo of Milton's own imperial outlooks.

Blank Verse 

No rhyme structure. Does not look or sound as structured and melodic as rhymed poetry. Slows the poem down, interrupts the easy 'flowing' of the text. Makes text harder and more laborious. Complements the mood of the poem- sombre tale of human tragedy. 

Speech-like quality- makes poem's narrative sound more life-like. Run on lines adds to the poems realism + renders its sound like a speech. 

Iambic Pentameter 

Natural rhythm of the English language. 5 unstressed syllables followed by 5 stressed ones. 
Narratives and monologues are more realistic. PL as a product of religious revelation rather than a crafted piece of literature. 


Foreign feel of Milton's syntax is due to the author's first studied language being Latin. Milton wanted his epic poem to resemble the greatest literary works of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Milton creates a sense of his poem being a replica or a translation of an ancient poem.

Elevate the poem's style- more lofty and worthy of the epic field. Makes the reading slower and more difficult. 

Binary Oppositions 

Create a moral depth- contrasting the good and evil. 
  • God/Satan
  • sin/virtue
  • punishment/praise
  • infernal/the divine
  • God's creating/Satan's destroying inclinations
Create tensions and turning points. Organize the plot + dictate the audience's sympathy. But when binary opposites are broken (virtuous Eve tempted to sin) challenges the text + unsettles the audience.  Questions characters and morality. 

Satan's first soliloquy. Binaries are:
  • light/dark
  • pleasure/torment
  • productive/destructive
  • delight/woe
  • sweet/bitter
Showcase Satan's troubled state of mind and anger. 

The man/woman binary introduces a differentiation based on characters' gender. Also shows how one of the genders is superior to the other. 

Binary oppositions highlight Eve's moral superiority to Satan. 
Images of 'innocence', 'softness', 'sweetness' vs 'evil', 'fierceness', 'malice', 'envie' and creates a tension and suspense in anticipation of Satan and Eve's first interaction. 

Oppositions are troubling- know that Eve is going to commit the sin. Undermines the oppositions present in the text. Does it also undermine the God/Satan and punishment/praise. Linked to political interpretation- the Civil War. 

Lexis and Its Effect on the Imagery 

Bk 9 Ln 145-178 

Satan is gliding through the Earth's underground in the 'midnight vapor' Everything is 'obscure', 'dark' and 'foul'. Add uncertainty, mystery and unpleasantness and danger.  Satan laments that he has to enter Paradise as 'a beast' who is 'mixt with beastial slime'. Abundance of forceful, negative lexis in this passage.

Presented with bitter 'revenge'. There are thickets of 'Danck and Drie' picturing the setting as moudly, damp and disorderly. Introduces images of decay and destruction. Semantic fields of beastiality and anger contribute to the grim, dark imagery of the passage. 


Rhetoric widely used eg. Eve to persuade Adam to seperate + work in different parts of the Garden. Used by Adam to prevent her from doing so. Satan uses it to tempt Eve.


Adam and Eve. Eve uses many personal pronouns e.g. 'us' , 'we'  and 'our'. which she repeats. Employs emotive, forceful phrases combined with rhetorical questions: "How are we happie, in still in fear of harm." Eve's repetition as she repeats 'foul' three times. Lastly Eve uses Adam's love and submission to God:

"Let us not then suspect our happie State/
Left so imperfet by the Maker wise."

Adam uses a similar array of rhetorical devices to keep Eve by his side and dissuade her embarking on solitary work. Uses personal pronouns and praises Eve: "immortal Eve/For such thou art, from sin and blame entire."
Uses emotive and forcedul lexis and uses triples: "More wise, more watchful, stronger"

Last example is Satan's rhetoric to tempt Eve to the forbidden fruit. Addresses Eve as 'Queen of this Universe' and bestows her with flattery to gain her trust and fondness. Criticises God for denying Adam and Eve the privileges an pleasures of tasting the forbidden fruit. Makes negative points about God's commandements: "Why then was his forbid?... Why but to keep ye low and ignorant."

"By the Fruit? It gives you life..."

Satan makes himself more attractive and accessible. Opposition to God who is 'The Threatener' and offers Eve more positive and encouraging info. Appeals to Eve's common sense.

Includes many contrasts in his speech- binary oppositions to highlight the perceived injustice of God's restrictions

"Shall that be shut to man, which to the Beast
Is open?"

Man'/Beast and shut/open. Fruit should not be forbidden and the ban is not reasonable. Undermines God's reasonability and authority in Eve's eyes. Ultimate effect of Satan's rhetoric- Eve's obedience to the God's commandment, moments after she listens to the serpent's deceitful speech. 

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