‘Matter new to gaze’: Satan's Blindness and the Manifestation of Milton's Sacramental Universe

Russell M. Hillier

in Milton's Messiah

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199591886
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725326 | DOI:
‘Matter new to gaze’: Satan's Blindness and the Manifestation of Milton's Sacramental Universe

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This chapter offers a fresh reading of Satan's voyage across Books Three and Four of Paradise Lost and interprets the poem's cosmos as operating according to a sacramental-allegorical poetic. Sacrament and allegory resemble one another. Both the sacramental and allegorical modes figure forth ‘something other’ than is initially apparent. Interpreters of sacramental and allegorical discourse need to adjust their perceptions in order to admit the ‘something other’ that is being conveyed. It is argued that the universe Satan blindly traverses is an explicatio filii Dei that provides a copious manifestation of the Son's reconciliatory and mediatorial work of salvation as God-man. Milton's readers are invited to negotiate Satan's partial and Christless perspective and to discern the higher redemptive reality latent in the symbols of divine love displayed in the celestial phenomena of the Cosmic Plant, the Limbo of Fools, the Ladder of Heaven, the Sun, and the Tree of Life.

Keywords: copia; sacrament; Incarnation; allegory; vision; blindness; cosmology; Cosmic Plant; Limbo; Ladder of Heaven; Sun; Tree of Life

Chapter.  18074 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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