Milton and the Poetry of the Fall

Paul Hammond

in John Milton

Published by British Academy

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780197264706
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734557 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Original Paperbacks

Milton and the Poetry of the Fall

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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Setting aside his concern with political and theological principles, Milton's most distinctive contribution in culture is his poetry, where he thinks through the consequences of the principles in poetic language, which is more humanly complex than the combative polemics of his prose. This chapter examines Milton's thinking about the Fall of Man. His conception of the Fall is predominantly a meditation on egoism and disobedience, on selfishness and self-sacrificial love, on blindness and recognition. The chapter aims to elucidate some of the poetic means by which Milton draws his reader into the narrative of the Fall. Milton's poetry of the Fall is inter alia the fall of couples to individuals who enclose themselves in self-seeking forms of selfhood; and the fall of reason into modes of self-deception, exemplified by the recourse to the rhetorical questions that close off true reasoning and substitute human wishful thinking for the obedience to divine commands.

Keywords: Fall of Man; Milton's poetry; self-seeking; selfhood; fall of reason; self-deception

Chapter.  9184 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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