Paradise Lost Tutorial
“God is now conceived of as something outside man and
man's handiwork, and it follows that it must be
idolatry to worship that which Phidias and Scopas
made ... Night will fall upon man's wisdom now
that man has been taught that he is nothing. He had
discovered or half-discovered that the world is round
and one of many like it, but now he must believe that
the sky is but a tent spread above a level floor, and
that he may be stirred into a frenzy of anxiety and so
to moral transformation blot out the knowledge or
half-knowledge that he has lived many times, and
think that all eternity depends upon a moment's
-Yeats, A Vision.
I agree with Stephen Spender’s quote: “The Renaissance, the Puritan revolution, the French revolution, the industrial revolution have all been named as villains. There runs through modern criticism the fantasy of a Second Fall of Man. The First Fall, it will be remembered, had the result of introducing Original Sin into the world of Man, exiled from the Garden of Eden and knowing good and evil. The Second Fall seems to result from the introduction of scientific utilitarian values and modes of thought into the world of choice between good and evil . . .’
If you are considering the Fall story in English Literature, the first version which occurs to you will almost certainly be Paradise Lost. Despite its obscurities and perversities (to each his own) it remains the grandest design, the most impressive imaginative construction of certain events which, whether or not they happened, for many people could or should have happened or in some ways are always happening.
I always think that Fall story in Paradise Lost is a juncture of two things – The account in the Genesis and Milton’s own interpretation of it. This gives rise to an important notion that there is a change from the use of...