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Cora Santiago Langnau

The Creator and the Creative Process in Milton’s Paradise Lost: A Lyrical Analysis

ISBN: 978-3-96146-780-8

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Produktart: Buch
Verlag: Diplomica Verlag
Erscheinungsdatum: 09.2020
AuflagenNr.: 1
Seiten: 92
Sprache: Englisch
Einband: Paperback


This book is an in-depth lyrical and structural analysis of Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost and his representation of the biblical creation story of the Book of Genesis. It combines approaches of critical biblical exegesis and literary comparative methods to analyze Milton’s concept of creation and his depiction of creative processes and productive elements in his narrative, particularly with regard to style, imagery, structure, meaning and mythological origin. The central part of the book involves an analysis of Milton's portrayal of the role and identity of the creator and that of his creatures and explores Milton's interpretation and symbiosis of Christian and Classical concepts. Furthermore, the relationship between the creator and his creations and the occurring conflict between them is going to be examined together with the subsequent deconstruction and reconstruction of God's creation. The book also discusses Milton's own role as a poet, author and creator and puts it in relation to his work, life, and narrative style.


Text sample: Chapter 3.1.2, Satan’s Role and Identity in relation to Creation: In the poem, Satan has a similar double-edged role in relation to creation fulfilling his part of the philosophical dichotomy of good and evil. On the one hand, through his revolt against God and his temptation of man, he is the ultimate destructor. It is however notable that Satan’s destructiveness did not involve the actual destruction of the world, but he rather indirectly achieved his goal by influencing his fellow creatures leading them to their own destruction. It is therefore most of all his seductive abilities, which are responsible for him being a destructive entity. He masters the art of seduction like nobody else in the poem. It was not only man who he tempted in the form of the serpent, but in Paradise Lost, Satan is also shown as seducing his fellow rebel angels leading them all to their downfall. After he is dissatisfied and jealous with God proclaiming he had begotten the son, while the other angels are celebrating the news, Satan takes this as an occasion to look for others among his comrades he can win for his plans. First, he starts convincing his associate” by infusing bad influence” into him, who then goes on to assemble” Satan’s other subordinates by tricking them to march against God and the Son under the false pretext of ambiguous words” (V, l. 683-704). His seductions, although ultimately leading to devastation, exhibit a very powerful creativity. There is a particular beauty, diversity, and originality in the words Satan uses. Milton generally uses a very elevated language throughout his poem, which is of course also due to his work being an epic poem, and yet Satan's discourse stands out as particularly elaborate while he is talking and seducing other characters. Whereas he uses a lot of long, complex sentence structures, and a variety of extravagant words when he speaks, the sentences and words of God and his Son tend to be much simpler and more straightforward, thus underlining their transparent and honest motives in contrast to Satan’s wicked intentions. His intricate rhetoric pattern becomes especially evident during his speech to Eve from the moment he starts with his fraudulent temptation” (IX, l. 531). His arguments to convince is very long-winded, going on from Book 9, l. 532 until l. 733 were he ended” and his arguments have already found an easy entrance” into Eve’s heart” (l. 733-734). Trying to tempt her, he proceeds in the style of a public speaker stringing together one convincing logical argument after the other in order to validate Eve's objections while using at the same time excessive flattery in order to make her more susceptible for his words. In doing so, his rhetoric ability is of such excellence that his whole posture and approach is also compared to some orator renowned / In Athens or free Rome, where eloquence / Flourished” (IX, l. 670-672). Right at the beginning he opens his discourse by calling her sovereign Mistress” (l. 532). Besides, he uses many repetitions and superlatives like fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair” (l. 538) and hyperbolas like a Goddess among Gods, adored and served / By angels numberless, thy daily train” (l. 547-548) in combination with his flatteries in order to further beguile Eve. It is during the display of these speeches that his creative and destructive energy often go hand in hand. Satan’s ingenuity as an orator links him to one of the Son's creative abilities in that it too renders him a magician of words through which he can achieve changes. His speech performances, however, are not really performative since he does not transform the states of the world around him by talking, but he rather influences the state of it through deception and creating illusions with his discourse. His invocations work more like coaxings, therefore making his spoken creations more reminiscent of how a show magician or illusionist operates, particularly since he uses disguises in order to mislead his fellow creatures. When he was found trying to seduce Eve, it is the first time we get an insight into the inherent workings of his cunning process. There again he tries to bend her will while adopting an animal disguise, managing to create false illusions, dreams and even bogus thoughts and emotions deep inside her just by using his words. Him they found / Squat like a toad close at the ear of Eve / Assaying by his dev'lish art to reach / The organs of her fancy and with them forge / Illusions, as he list, phantasms and dreams / Or if inspiring venom he might taint / Th'animal spirits that from pure blood arise / Like gentle breaths from rivers pure, thence raise / At least distempered, discontented thoughts,/ Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires / Blown up with high conceits engend'ring pride” (IV, l. 799-809) His language nevertheless has a performative aspect in the narrow sense of the word. By giving his eloquent speeches he is also giving an artistic performance similar to that of an actor. Especially towards man he never shows his real motive and face, instead putting on a dexterous show to deceive him with him being at the center of the stage. His artistry is based on misdirection and malignancy unlike God's, whose creative activity comes from a good and honest foundation. In trying to achieve his destructive goals he is however still trying to emulate the grandeur of God, particularly the prowess of his words. This mimicry of Satan with regard to Gods creation is also again reflected in the way he is addressed. In an imitation of one of God's titles, Satan is called our great author” (X, l. 236) by Sin in reference to his work, which is creative from her perspective. In some cases these titles are transferred from the creative to the destructive domain through the addition of negative adjectives e.g. author of all ill” (II, l. 381) or author of evil” (VI, l. 262), pointing out the destructive motives behind his creative operations. The field of construction is another instance where Satan is performing the activity of a creator in imitation of God. Satan and his fellow fallen angels display an enormous amount of craftsmanship in building, manufacturing and mining. To begin with, Hell is virtually a vast burning desert of a huge burning lake with liquid fire” (I, l. 229) and is compared to a universe of death” (II, l. 622) when they arrive. Despite these less than beneficial conditions for constructing, the fallen angels manage it within a short time to find building materials beneath Hell's soil and use them to build Pandemonium” which is the high capital of Satan and his peers” (I, l. 756-757). Under the command of Mammon, the fallen angels show great technical expertise when it comes to extracting the gold from the base metals in Hell’s earth, building an intricate system which uses cells” build upon ”liquid fire” from the lake” (l. 700-702) as melting pot in order to gain materials to build their city. Their construction is so extraordinary that it is not only compared to but elevated far above that of the greatest monuments of fame, and strength and art” particularly with regard to the quickness with which the fallen angels managed to implement their project (l. 692-699). Milton to further underline their constructive genius likens the building process of Pandemonium to the creation of a symphony starting in line 708. Ist construction is synaesthetic as Milton depicts it like visual music” while displaying the rebel angel’s artistic gift. Creation for them is comparable to performance art. On the other hand, however, the symphonic accompaniment of the construction of architectural opulence adds to the pompousness of the fallen angels endeavor, who are raising a monument of Doric pillars overlaid / With golden architrave” together with Cornice or freeze, with bossy sculptures grav'n” and a roof of fretted gold” (l. 713-717).

Über den Autor

Cora Santiago Langnau wurde 1985 geboren. Sie studierte Englische Literaturwissenschaft, Rechtswissenschaft, Religionswissenschaft und Archäologie an der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg und später an der Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universität München und Theologie an der Lund Universität, Schweden und der Universität Kopenhagen, Dänemark. Neben ihrer Arbeit als Sprachlehrerin widmet sie sich vorwiegend interdisziplinären und interkulturellen Forschungsschwerpunkten. Die Schnittstellen zwischen Literatur, Sprache, Kultur, Religion und Mythologie gehören zu ihren zentralen Themengebieten.

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