Also read the headnotes to each book for a statement of the "argument."
There is an excellent website you can use to supplement your readings in the Norton, called
Paradise Lost from New Arts Library.
We will continue to discuss the readings from Thursday and move into
a more detailed discussion of Adam and Eve in Paradise and their fall in Book IX.
I have also asked you to consider the meaning of the "Tree of Knowledge" and
what the prohibition (which they transgress) signifies in Milton's poem.
Keep in mind some of the formal poetic devices that we reviewed in last class
so as to practice some skills in close reading the lines; in particular we
discussed blank verse, enjambment, amplification and epanalepsis, and inverted
syntax. Also consider his use of epic similes.
Our readings for this class conclude Paradise Lost but the themes
and discussion will continue throughout the semester. As you read, consider
the overall impact the poem makes, the questions it raises and attempts to answer,
and the many ways you can appreciate and analyze its intricate depths.
Reading Notes and Discussion Questions:
Book Nine begins with the poet's announcement of the upcoming
fall. Why does Milton include this? What does this suggest
about the voice of the poet? What does this suggest about the tragic scope
of this epic?
He also includes another invocation at this point. What effect
does this have?
In this important book, Milton makes many arguments. Eve will
argue with Adam for her right to garden separately, and Adam will argue with Eve.
Satan in the form of the snake will argue with Eve about the virtues of knowledge,
and then Eve will argue with herself. One argument leads to another until after
the Fall utter discord breaks out. Examine the allegorical significance of these arguments and results.
Why does Eve ultimately decide to eat the fruit? (This question
is different, perhaps, then why does Eve eat the fruit.) Why
does Adam follow her example? What consequences do they consider?
Compare the impulses described in line 1015 and on with the earlier
description of pure love.
Why do Adam and Eve know shame at this point? What is the allegorical
significance? Describe their communication after the Fall and
compare it to earlier.
Note Adam's recriminations in book ten. How does he feel toward Eve?
What is Eve's response?
Why does Adam refuse to commit suicide?
How do they bring about their reconciliation with God?
In book twelve, examine Adam's amazement at Michael's report: "That all this good of evil shall produce, / And
evil turn to good" (470-1). This is a central paradox of the epic. How
do you understand it? What does it mean?
What is the allegorical significance of the ending of the epic: "The world was all before them"?
Consider the question, does Milton achieve his grand aim: To justify the ways of God to men?
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