English Language and Literature
Paradise Lost – Justifying man’s fallibility
My research is based on a paper I wrote and engages primarily with Milton’s Paradise Lost. It focuses on the poem’s natural spaces and analyses what those creations reveal about the nature of creation and existence. Principally I’ll look at the way in which the concept of the binary is undermined and eroded in the poem’s organic spaces. I show that these environments all corrupt and disturb each other. This ‘natural condition’ of simultaneous harmony and disturbance permeates every inch of the narrative and I focus upon where it manifests itself in man and human behavior. I then explore the ways in which the reading process encourages readers to frame what they read around a binary structure and how and why Milton may want to break that structure. Concluding that his ultimate goal is to ‘justify the ways of God to man’ by recasting the ‘post-lapsarian’ condition as necessary evil of creation rather than a consequence of divine fallibility. This is achieved through his destruction of the binary in the natural spaces within the poem.
The essay was written in reaction to the lectures we’d received from the School of English on Paradise Lost because I found their interpretation of the text so challenging. I want to explain to students what to do if you read a text differently to the ascribed norm and how to pull that off when it’s time to research that idea.