Sunday, 17 April 2016

Key Themes and Ideas

The Pastoral

Primarily concerned with images of an idealised country life and work. Involves figures of shepherds + tells stories of their humble but happy lives. Concerned with the purifying and gladdening effects of physical labour.

Pastoral, normally classical. But can be associated with Christian ideals of purity and innocence. Depicts people living in harmony with the natural world, and achieving simple satisfaction through their day-to-day work.

Pastoral protagonists = self-sufficent and morally elevated - A + E

english pastoral

Innocence and piety reflected in the amount of gardening work that they do. Labours they take obediently undertake which places them closer to God = peaceful, mild and loving; they live in union with nature.

Milton adds religion to traditionally Pagan mode. Pastoral as part of the religious discourse. However, it's wild pastoral imagery. GofE = unruly jungle and a 'Labyrinth' of vegetation. Imagery surrounding the scene is of obscurity, darkness, mist and dankness.

Harmonious growth and orderliness is not easily identifiable in the 'midnight vapor' of Eden.


Shifts meaning throughout the book. A + E lead a humble life, labouring in the GofE following God's commandments. Live with an awareness of God watching them + shape all actions in way that is complaint with his precepts. Worshipping God according to Christian ideals of worship- being obedient to him, loving each other + working hard for their daily bread.

Things change when S enters the GofE. Encourages the humans' fall by tempting Eve to breach God's law. Convincing Eve of his false worship of her. False worship is a forceful tool used by Satan to induce Eve to sin

After eating the apple- starts praising the Tree of Knowledge. Admiring the tree as it if was a God, a deity. Beginning of Eve's downfall- returning to Animistic beliefs.

Animism = not only humans have a soul but plants and animals are all spiritual beings worthy of worship. Seen as tribal and savage

Couple experience a sinful sexual awakening. Abandon religious worship altogether. No room for religious worship at the end of Bk 9- irreversibly lose their innocence and goodliness.

Temptation and Sin

Eve tempting Adam to separate- uses rhetorical devices and he yields. A surrenders to E temptation

E's sin when S succeeds in tempting E to the forbidden fruit.

E tempts A again to eat the fruit and breach Gods main commandment.


Physical and emotional. Couple's physical parting in the beginning of the book. A wary of the idea as sees potential danger in Eve leaving A , but eventually he yields.

E spiritual separation from God after eating the forbidden fruit. Thinks she is in the divine position of an all-knowing goddess. She is a god-like figure + abandons her love for God = separation from Christian tradition.

A + E separate emotionally - relationship breaks down. Turn to spiteful accusations + not much is left from their previous 'State of Mind...full of peace.' Followed by A + E separation from God they are expelled from Paradise.

The Sublime

Feeling that combines both admiration and fear in the presence of a force that is magnificent and mighty. Often powers of nature or spiritual phenomena that evoke the sublime feelings in its beholders.

Sublime through God and S's influence over  A + E.

  • G sublime power as spiritual force that produces a mixture of emotions. Admire and worship him as he's the superior force. Creations are awe- inspiring and wondorous. But they fear consequences of their disobedience + terrified of breaking his laws. 

They love God for the incomprehensible greatness of his creations and they fear God's punishment at the same time.

  • S's = elements of the sublime. E does not resist S's temptation is because she is blinded by his sublime disguise. Unfamiliar but magnificent in its strangeness. 

  • Tree of knowledge - inexpressible power, wondorously capable of giving a sense and deeper knowledge to any creature that eats its fruit. 
Eve is mesmerised by the tree's grandeur and supernatural characteristics. E seems to praise the tree because of the powers that are beyond her understanding. 

E spiritually elevates the tree + is in awe and inspired by it. Almost seen as Godlike. 

Milton's sublime is negative.

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