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2 things beldi Calonce



in Flesh Vs...

can love freedom heartily but good men; the rest love not freedom but licence, which never hath more scope, or more indulgence than under tyrants. Hence is it that tyrants are not oft offended, nor stand much in doubt of bad men, as being all naturally servile.

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In the story of the Fall, the theory applies to Adam. Adam has been carried away, against his reason, by his passion for Eve:

Against his better knowledge, not deceived,
But fondly overcome with female charm.

But with this "female charm," we come to a group of ideas which played a capital part in Milton's thought, because they came to him from the most painful experience of his own life.'


B. The Fall in particular: sensuality

The first consequence of the Fall is sensuality, which becomes, so to speak, the characteristic trait of the state of Fall. Milton in this follows Augustine:

Then it was

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The motion

They felt a new motion in their flesh, which had become rebellious as a consequence of their own rebellion. that the flesh began to covet against the spirit. of concupiscence is the consequence of Sin.11


So Milton describes the first effect of the forbidden fruit, which he looks upon as an aphrodisiac:

They swim in mirth, and fancy that they feel

Divinity within them breeding wings

Wherewith to scorn the earth. But that false fruit

Far other operation first display'd,

8 Ibid., II, 2.

9 P. L., IX, 998-99. Eve's case is quite as plain. See below, pp. 159 ff. 10 See above, pp. 49 ff.

11 De civitate Dei, XIII-XIV.

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But come! so well refresh'd, now let us play,
As meet is, after such delicious fare;
For never did thy beauty, since the day
I saw thee first, and wedded thee, adorn'd
With all perfections, so inflame my sense
With ardor to enjoy thee; fairer now
Than ever; bounty of this virtuous tree!

So said he, and forbore not glance or toy
Of amorous intent, well understood
Of Eve, whose eye darted contagious fire.
Her hand he seiz'd; and to a shady bank,
Thick overhead with verdant roof imbowr'd,
He led her nothing loth; flow'rs were the couch,
Pansies, and violets, and asphodel,

And hyacinth, earth's freshest softest lap.
There they their fill of love and love's disport
Took largely; of their mutual guilt the seal,
The solace of their sin; till dewy sleep

Oppress'd them, weary'd with their amorous play.12

This is the very perfection of the Fall. The proof is that their knowledge of good and evil does not come to them. after the eating of the apple, but after the sensual crisis. The first knowledge is sexual shame:

up they rose

As from unrest, and each the other viewing,

Soon found their eyes how open'd, and their minds
How darken'd.18

Adam tells Eve that he sees

.. in our faces evident the signs

Of foul concupiscence,14

and proposes to

12 P. L., IX, 1009-45. 18 Ibid., IX, 1051-54. 14 Ibid., IX, 1077–78.

cover round

Those middle parts, that this new comer, Shame,

There sit not, and reproach us as unclean.15

It was against sensuality that Raphael had warned Adam, in scarcely veiled terms, at the end of their talk:

But if the sense of Touch, whereby mankind
Is propagated, seem such dear delight
Beyond all other, think the same vouchsaf'd
To cattle and each beast; which would not be
To them made common and divulg'd if ought
Therein enjoy'd were worthy to subdue
The soul of man, or passion in him move.16

And Raphael was mainly referring to this passion when he cautioned Adam to

take heed lest passion sway Thy judgment..

Because, although the Fall is the triumph of passion in general, the principal passion and the most powerful desire lie in sexual inclination, through which the race is perpetuated and life transmitted Sexual desire is, so to speak, essentially "desire." It is most capable of obliterating reason completely and of leading man to the worst folly. And in such obliteration is the abstract typical trait of the Fall. Therefore there will ever remain in Milton a deep mistrust of woman, the witness of the degradation:

Thy mate, who sees when thou art seen least wise.17

Milton, to mark the essential part of sensuality in the Fall, brings the same motive into the fall of Satan. Satan fell through pride. But during the first night of rebellion, sensuality was born in him and his fall was consummated 15 Ibid., IX, 1096–98. 16 Ibid., VIII, 579-85. 17 Ibid., VIII, 578.

in incest. Milton paraphrases James: "Then when Lusty hath conceived it bringeth forth Sin; and Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth Death."

This makes of Satan Lust, since he "bringeth forth Sin," his daughter. The study of Paradise Lost shows us Satan as a general symbol of evil desire, opposed to the Son, who is Reason.18 But Milton insists on the trait, which is peculiarly Lust, in the narrow sense: sensuality. Satan's daughter, Sin, speaks to him:

familiar grown,

I pleased, and with attractive graces won
The most averse, thee chiefly, who full oft
Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing

Becam❜st enamoured, and such joy thou took'st
With me in secret, that my womb conceived
A growing burden.19

And Satan remembers, in his infernal and horrible tender


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dalliance had with thee in Heav'n and joys

Then sweet, now sad to mention . . .20


A. Legitimate sensuality

For Milton, however, desire is not evil in itself. Desire is normal, necessary, good; it is divine in its origin like matter itself. Evil appears only when desire obliterates intellect. Therefore the regeneration of man will be, not the suppression of desire, but the triumph of reason over passion. When desire is approved of by reason, not only is it allowed, but it is good, necessary, manded."


18 See Part III.

19 P. L., II, 761-67.

20 Ibid., II, 819-20.

We must be careful to note that evil is not the normal state of man. Primitive nature was good. Regenerated human nature is good. In it, desire, fully in harmony with reason, is legitimate. Milton, looking upon himself as a type of normal man, faces his own desires not only without shame, but with pride. Therefore, there exists a sensuality which is good.

Raphael explains clearly the essential differences:

What higher in her society thou find'st
Attractive, humane, rational, love still;
In loving thou dost well, in passion not;
Wherein true love consists not. Love refines
The thoughts, and heart enlarges; hath his seat
In reason, and is judicious; is the scale

By which to heav'nly love thou may'st ascend;
Not sunk in carnal pleasure, for which cause,
Among the beasts no mate for thee was found.2


Love has his seat in reason. This means that physical love is legitimate when man and woman are united by the common interests of reason, affection, religion, all the higher inclinations.

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For Milton, man is one; the soul has no separate existence. The whole being then participates in love, even physical love; the angels themselves love physically. Hence the abomination when man's inferior needs are satisfied without the participation of the higher desires. That is binding "the living soul to the dead corpse. That is prostituting the highest part of man to the vilest, that is man divided against himself. Such is, as we have seen, the theory that underlies the divorce treatises. But when, on the contrary, the physical inclination, far from "subduing the soul of man," is only the realization on

21 Ibid., VIII, 586–94.

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