The soliloquy in Milton’s English poems

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The soliloquy in Milton’s English poems

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A THESIS SUBMITTED TO THE GRADUATE FACULTY in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

BY ! j

KATHERINE RADER Norman, Oklahoma 1951




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Because expression of gratitude is customary in a preface of i

this kind,

what is said is often regarded as merely a formality through

which one is expected to go. that I write,

It is not, however, from a sense of duty

but from a desire to express my genuine appreciation to

all of those to whom I owe more than I could possibly repay.

I am glad

to have this opportunity to write what I feel, because saying these things is sometimes difficult. Perhaps my first debt is to the University as a whole, for, having been b o m in Norman,

I have always felt its influence;

after receiving three degrees from the institution,


I am sensible that

much of what I have learned for use in daily life or in profession is !

due to the associations I have had with men and women of fine minds on its staff.



Particularly, of course,

I feel a sense of gratitude toward


the Department of English for the truly exceptional instruction which


it offers.

To enumerate all of the teachers whose classes I have en­

joyed would be impractical here; |

but my thanks go to all.

Writing a thesis is not an unmixed pleasure.

Barring footnotes,



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bibliographies, deadlines, and other inevitable attendant evils, however, it has been as pleasant as possible because of the intelligent and kind help given me by the members of my committee.

Doctor Stow, in whose

j i

| 1

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department I have spent many enjoyable hours studying Latin, has given me helpful suggestions, including much advice on Greek, with which I am unfamiliar.

Doctor Tongue, who guided me through most of my work in

Latin, and whose absence from Norman during the summer prevented his |

serving on my committee,

has been most generous of his time in reading


the first chapter and giving me useful ideas. Doctor Marshburn, a life­ long friend, directed my master's thesis, and it has been especially pleasant to find him again on my committee,

for his kindness and his

favorable comments are unfailingly encouraging.

To Doctor Pritchard,

who wrote his dissertation on Milton and whose knowledge of the classics has been invaluable,

I am indebted for the many pertinent criticisms

and suggestions he has offered,

particularly since he has taken time

to read the thesis while he is himself engaged in work on a book on American literary criticism.

To the chairmen of my committee, Doctor

Raines and Doctor Svendsen,

it is almost impossible to give the full

credit due them.

Their contributions, both in building morale and in

aiding materially in suggestions for the paper, have been innumerable. Doctor Raines, whose lectures in the classroom have a brilliance which is breath-taking to his students, has shown equal breadth of knowledge in his reading of my paper, offering valuable suggestions not only on Milton but also on Greek, Latin, and Elizabethan literature.


Svendsen, whose work on Milton has made him nationally known as an authority,

suggested to me the subject on which I have written, a

subject which he originally intended to use himself;


the results have not been too disappointing to him.

and I hope that In add out. of



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the classroom,

he combines thorough scholarship on Milton and the

Renaissance with a stimulating wit— 'and basic kindness— which are the delight of hip students.

Of all of these qualities and his keen mind

I have been made doubly conscious in my work on this dissertation.


humor and understanding of both have smoothed out many situations which might have been unpleasant, and their mutual distaste for red tape has saved me many unnecessary but impending annoyances.


I feel

that I could not have been more fortunate in the choice of men on my committee, both personally and academically. There are many others to whom I feel deeply grateful.

To the

Fiftieth Anniversary Fellowship committee of Delta Delta Delta, a fra­ ternity whose membership has enriched me in friendship and in experience in democratic living,

I wish to express my thanks for awarding me its

fellowship for 1949-1950,

a grant which made possible my working on

this degree without feeling it necessary to earn money at the same time. I should like to mention also Dr. John V. Raley, president of Oklahoma Baptist University, who generously offered me a leave of absence when I told him. of my decision to continue graduate work.

My thanks go, too,

to Miss Alberta McCann of the graduate office, who has spent much time patiently explaining to me the requirements which I had to fulfill. Though the list is long and could be extended much further, indebtedness to those mentioned in this section is no less great.

my If

what has been said sourkLs like a Restoration dedication to a nobleman, it was not so meant. obligations are many.

The convictions are no less sincere because my Nor do I mean to leave the impression which so


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long a list of obligations sometimes leaves— that the work is of im­ portance.

I am entirely and painfully conscious of its limitations.

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Chapter I.

Page THE TRADITION: A REVIEW OF THE HISTORY OF THE SOLILOQUY.................................















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In this paper, an effort is made to survey the extent and qual­ ity of Milton's use of the soliloquy in his English poems in an attempt first, to show how they are artistically related to the work in which they appear and what functions they serve, and second, to place the |

Miltonic soliloquy in the long-established tradition from which he un-


doubtedly gained much*


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As in the study of any literary device, it is necessary to fornn ulate a working definition of the term*

As will be apparent from the


following section dealing with the history of the soliloquy UP to the !

time of Milton, as shown through selected and representative authors and



works, the line of distinction between the soliloquy proper and other types of monologues is a fine one; and certain forms used in drama and

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epic partake of qualities of the soliloquy without, in most cases, being truly soliloquies*

Of this type are, among others, addresses to the

audience, which may have been the original form from which the particular i

type— -the soliloquy— developed, and the prayer, though this latter kind j

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toay be classed as soliloquy only in rare instances when the prayer is purely a device for expressing the thought of a character as clearly distinguished from a true prayer with its inevitable consciousness of an unseen listener.

(Occasional references are made fro® time to time to

these ‘n .r-relativee” of the form, but these types are not to be regarded as true soliloquies.) Though the form is much olier, the tern is one coined by Saint Augustine in Latin: speak).^

goliloaulma. from solus (alone) and loimi (to

Krom this literal meaning, some question may arise as to whether

any speech made in the presence of another may be called a soliloquy, fhe point has been debated.

Friedrich von Leo, in his treatment of the

Bophoclean soliloquy, has implied that a speech, even if made in the presence of others, stay be termed a soliloquy if the character either is not aware of having cuapany or is so aroused that he forgets the others 2 and so talks with hiraaelf. Bickford questions whether, in the oase of 3

Sophocles, the presence of the chorus was really ignored.


agrees with Leo by defining a dramatic soliloquy as


Soliloquy,M A Sew English Dictionary on Historical Principles Clarendon Press, 1688-1926), IX, Part I, L02,

%riedrich von Leo, Per Honolog ia Drama: Lin Beltrag zur griechlsch-roaiaohen Poetlk (Berlin: Weidaannsche Buchhandlung, 1903), pp. 13 ff. 3john Dean Bickford, The Soliloquy in Ancient Comedy (Princeton, Hew Jersey: Published by tho author^ n.d.), p. 29.

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a passage in a drama in which a character is alone upon the stage and speaks to himself, believing himself to be alone. Even when the character is not alone on the stage his speech may be a soliloquy if it shows that the character is entirely oblivious to his surround­ ings.^ Also in agreement is Arnold, at least by implication, for he mentions that an aside or apart may not be classed as a soliloquy because the speaker gives his information for the benefit of the audience and is obviously conscious of that group.

He does not say that an aside is not

o a soliloquy because of the presence of other characters.A

Any argument

of this kind is based on personal interpretation of the passage in ques­ tionj but it seems entirely possible that such a speech may legitimately be termed a soliloquy, and it is so treated in this discussion. To sum up, then, a soliloquy, as described in this study, is a speech or the reproduction in words of a thought of a character in a literary work in which he expresses to himself his feelings or ideas, j |

either when actually alone or when unconscious of the presence of others. The soliloquy may serve a number of functions— to give needed


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exposition, to link the period of time between the entrance of one char-

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acter and the arrival of another or between the exit of one character

j and his return or the entrance of another, to smooth out a dramatic ! j exit so that two characters need not leave the stage at one time, to ;



^Edwin W. Roe8sler, The Soliloquy in German Drama (New Yorks Columbia University Press, 1915)j p. 3. ^Morris LeRoy Arnold, The Soliloquies of Shakespeare: in Technic (New York: Columbia University Press, 1911), p. 3.

A Study

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4 lend variety in a long epic narrative, or to function in revelation of character.

It is in the last use that the form is most nearly accept­

able to modern taste. The question of artistry in the soliloquy and of modern taste involves chiefly the acting drama and hence is not directly applicable to Milton's works, but a brief revLew of the criticism concerning the soliloquy might be worth while.

Aristotle says nothing of the form,

probably because it was rather rare in ancient tragedy; but one may perhaps infer from what he says of the chorus as an important actor and of the need for relevance in its odes^ that he would not have ap­ proved of the device when it involved ignoring the presence of the chorus.

The question arose very infrequently in classical and medie­

val times.

In the sixteenth century, Giraldi Cinthio in The Apology

for Dido defends his use of soliloquies in his play chiefly by refer­ ence to the fact that similar speeches may be found in Roman comedies and tragedies, ignoring the question of verisimilitude which had been raised by his critic.


In the seventeenth century, Corneille places

the restriction on the soliloquy that it should represent the speaker's thoughts when emotionally aroused and should not suggest an address to 3

the audience at all.

In the same century, Congreve, in his epistle

^Aristoteles Po. 1456 a 25. %iraldi Cinthio, "The Apology for Dido," Allan H. Gilbert, Literary Criticism: Plato to Dryden (New York: American Book Company, 1940), pp. 250-251. 3 Pierre Corneille. Oeuvres . . ., ed. by M. Ch. Marty-Laveaux (Nouvelle ed.j Paris: Librarie de L . Hachette et. Cie, 1862), I, 45.

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5 dedicatory to The Double Dealer, defends his use of soliloquies from adverse comments by saying that, although it is unnatural for a man to talk with himself, it is not unnatural to suppose that a man in soliloquy is thinking, as if without any knowledge of the presence of the audience, Another defender of the use of a lengthy emotional solilo­ quy is the Abbe d'Aubignac, who says: I confess that it is sometimes very pleasant to see a man upon the stage lay open his heart and speak boldly of his most secret thoughts, explain his designs, and give vent to all that his passion suggests; but without doubt it is very hard to make an actor do it with probability. As the convention of the soliloquy came under attack more frequently, it began to lose its force on the legitimate stage, and its disappearance, except in experimental dramas such as O’Neill's Emperor Jones and Strange Interlude, has been variously credited to the influence of Ibsen and the different means of plot development which he used and to the changes in staging and lighting.

At any rate, the form is still

found in closet drama and in narrative poetry, the types used by Milton; and so far as the writer has discovered, critics who have considered the question have done so only in connection with its naturalness as a device in stage presentation,

^William Congreve, William Congreve, ed, by William Archer ("Masterpieces of English Drama"; New York: American Book Company, 1912), p. 48.


^Francois Hedelin Aubignac, The Whole Art of the Stage . , . Printed for the author, 16843 Book III, Ch. 8, p. 57.

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Before beginning a discussion of the Miltonic soliloquy, one should perhaps turn to a study of what the tradition was concern­ ing the form by the time Kilton used it.

It should be mentioned that,

in tracing the use of the soliloquy, the writer has made no attempt to cover the history of the form thoroughly or even to include all authors who may have had a rather important influence on Milton, instance, although Milton admired the work of Theocritus,


it was felt

that his use of the Greek poet's soliloquies was so slight that it did not warrant the inclusion of Theocritus, because only the one in Lycidas is traceable to the pastoral tradition.

The effort has been to select

representative works which may have influenced Milton's use of the soliloquy and to include some, perhaps not so greatly influentia. on Milton, which are necessary as steps in the development of the fora. This inclusion of a brief history of the soliloquy is not in­ tended to show that Milton's soliloquies extinguished the tradition by fulfilling it completely;

nor is it expected that the reader will

feel that Milton's soliloquies are successful because they conform to the tradition, for any device must be justified in terms of its use in its own setting.

It should indicate that his practice was so ar­

tistic that it compels a review of the work which preceded it. In this background study, a survey will be made of the prin-

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cipal works wliich might have influenced Milton in the use of the form: the Bible, the epics of Homer, the Greek tragedies, Apollonius Rhodius' Argonautica. Vergil's Aeneid, Ovid's Metamorphoses. Seneca's tragedies, Dante's Divine Comedy, the English mystery, miracle, and morality plays, Tasso'8 Jerusalem Delivered. Spenser's Faerie Queene. the work of Shake­ speare's predecessors, Shakespeare's drama itself, and the principal poems of Giles and Phineas Fletcher. The Bible offers a number of instances of the varied possibil­ ities of the monologue.

In the book of Proverbs, Wisdom is personified

and conveys her thoughts in the form of a dramatic monologue, climaxing her talk with the idea that the structure of the universe suggests design in its Author and that Wisdom was with the Creator from the first:* When there were no depths I was brought forthj When there were no fountains abounding with water. Another instance of Biblical use of the soliloquy occurs in Hosea, xi. 1-11, where only a single speaker, God, is presented but where the effect of dialogue is produced by the alternations in the divine mind between judgment and compassion.^ Perhaps the most interesting for the student of Milton are the

*Richard G. Moulton, The Literary Study of the Bible; an Account of the Leading Forms of Literature Represented in the Sacred Writings (Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1903), p. 317. 2Prov. 9. ^Moulton, op. clt.. p. 387.

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soliloquies that appear in Job, since Milton early regarded this book as a short epic and probably used it as one source In writing Paradise L°st» Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonlstes. Milton's uses of Job, which had s powerful and lasting effect on him, are numerous.

In Para-

dise Regained, its use is Largely as a structural pattern. At Least twice in s> LiLoquy, however, he has made use of brooding over the meaning of man's misery: once in Adam's speech in Book X of Paradise Lost in which, tormented by a consciousness of guilt, he is moved to question God's purpose; and in the two soLiLoquies of Samson, in which the blind cham­ pion, in despair because of his blindness, the scorn of his enemies, and his belief that God has deserted him, pours forth laments much like those of Job,1 Though this consciousness of the disproportion between a tragic flaw and its effects underlies most tragedy, the thoughts of Adam and of Samson in these particular speeches are certainly reminis­ cent of Job. In this study of the reason for human suffering, the soliloauy takes the form often found in Milton's drama— an outburst of emotion so powerful that the speaker loses all consciousness of his companions and considers his own problems oblivious of his audience. After enduring many afflictions, and. finding the silent brooding of his friends and the scorn of his enemies unbearable, Job breaks forth to curse his own life: I

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_ Paradise Lost, X, 720-844; 854-862; Samson A^onistes. 1-11a : 60o-651. (Unless otherwise indicated, all references to the works of Hilton are to the Columbia edition: John Milton, The Works of John Milton. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1931-1933), 18 vols. in 21 •j

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perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was ?!* & 111811 child conceived* Let that day be darkness ; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell S ? 1* d ? blackness of the day terrify it. As for that night, 8elze upo? i* J let it not be Joined unto the days of the f ui i J.?0 coaie 1,11,0 the number of the months. Lo, let the night be solitary, let no Joyful voice come therein. Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning. Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day: Because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes. Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly? Why did the knees prevent me? or, why the breasts that I should suck? For now should I have ?Sen quiet» 1 should slept* then had I been at rest. With the kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves; Or with the princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver, Or as a hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light. There the wicked cease from troublingj and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. The «man and great are there; and the servant is free from bis master. Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures; Which rejoices exceedingly, and are glad when they can find the grave? Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in? For my sighing cometh before eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters. For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.l



Similar uses of the soliloquy occur as Job wishes for the days past when God favored him and as he meditates softly to himself his present misery as contrasted with his past happiness while rousing himself for his final vindication.^

These examples will perhaps serve to show some of

XJob. 3,3-26. 2Ibid., 29, 30.

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10 the uses of the soliloquy in the Bible.^ The device is also used by Homer, whose "addresses to the heart" are, as a rule, especially emphasized; they are expressly called speeches, and in these soliloquies, the hero speaks in lone reflection, amazement, or lament.

Friedrich von Leo, who is frequently cited in this section as

the primary authority on the classic monologue, has concluded that the appearance of the monologue, used often in Homeric epics, is the result of the Greek habit of talking to oneself when emotionally aroused, an everyday experience natural to the Ionic Greek even if not to Nordic peoples.^ In general, Homer uses two gradations approaching the solilo­ quy:

the prayer and the mere statement that a character has deliber­

ated in his soul— and the true soliloquy, the actual reproduction of the words spoken or thought by a character when alone.

It is interest­

ing to note that both these motivations for the Homeric monologue, the address to the god and the soliloquy, which usually takes the form of an address to the speaker's heart or soul, involve a suggestion of dialogue form in what is essentially a monologue, Homer's characters occasionally address some god or natural element as a means of beginning a speech which later moves on into monologic forms.

In these prayers, Homer often shows the highest

number of others are listed by Moulton, op. cit.. p. 515. 2 0£i_cit., p. 4>

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thoughts of which the hero is capable.1 In Achilles' prayer to Zeus, for instance, the reader sees the self-centered, arrogant Achilles moved to generosity by his love of Patroclus, for here he prays that Zeus grant honor to Patroclus instead of to himself and asks that his friend 2 may return safe after the victory. In this solemn invocation there are much characterization and several foreshadowings of action to come. There is no display of personal animosity, no indication of Achilles' desire to humiliate the Greeks, a suggestion of his gradual loss of a sense of grievance.

Thus, the prayer shows Achilles' character as it is

developed and also serves as one hint of the direction the plot will take. Another prayer which moves into the subjectivity of the solilo­ quy is that of Achilles when the river Scamander, angered that its bed had been choked with bodies of Trojans killed by the Greek hero, rose in an attempt to drown Achilles.

At the height of his triumph, Achilles

found himself faced with an ignoble death, "for Gods are stronger than men," and his prayer to the gods is a masterpiece of realism and of self-revelation. The thought of drowning fills him with loathing, but he feels no fear, much less despair. His indomitable spirit is filled with reproaching his mother, the goddess Thetis, who had promised him a glorious death under the walls of Troy.’

lH. V. Routh, God. Man. and Epic Poetry, a Study in Compara­ tive Literature (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927), I, 81. 2Homer Iliad xvi. 233-243. ^Bouth, o p . cit.. p. 82,

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Thus, the prayers of the Homeric characters often verge on the soliloquy in content and tone, though it is probable that Homer would not have thought of a prayer as a soliloquy. Also, Homer distinguishes, somewhat confusedly at times, be­ tween silent reflection and consideration or emotion combined into a soliloquy. Sone times in Homer, the hero is merely described as speak­ ing to his own soul and reaching a decision— without his actual v?ords being quoted.

On the other hand, exact words ere often given for this

type of deliberation, and in this case the true soliloquy appears— an address to the heart, 'Mch, again, may be either spoken or silent thought, reproduced in words. We find the true soliloquy largely only in certain books of the Iliad or Odyssey, the monologues in the Iliad, for instance, being confined largely to Books XVIII to XXII.

In general,

they are limited to the speeches of Achillas, and Patrocltis and to the scenes in Scheria, Ithaca, and Phaeacia.

There seems to be no readily

determined reason for this limitation.1 One of the most moving of these soliloouies is that of ifector.r * who is a "soldier almost from compulsion,1,2 a man of moral as well as physical courage. Although his father and mother have tried to dissuade him from fighting Achilles, he remains firm,and when he is alone, he pon­ ders his problem. He knows that Achilles must die if Troy is to be saved, and though Apollo warns him off, he determines to face his adversary. ^Leo,op. cit., p. 2. g

C. M. Bowra, Tradition and Design in the Iliad Clarendon Press, 1030), pp. 200 ff. — — — —


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He has, however, no Illusions about the issue, knowing that he himself must die.

Realizing that there is no chance for victory, he follows a

forlorn hope.

He considers compromise but recognizes that that is out

of the question.

This is his problem as he speaks

to Ills own magnanimous spirit: "Woe unto me I If I enter the ramparts now and the gateway, First will Pulydamas then be heaping reproaches upon me, Who was bidding me lead the Trojans back to the city During this ruinous night when arose the godlike Achilles, let I heeded him not— far better it were I had done so* How then, since I have lost us the host with ay own rash folly, I am ashamed to face the Trojans and trailing-robed women, Lest some man that is meaner than I may declare hereafter: •Hector, reliant upon his own might, lost us the army. • Thus they will talk; to me far better in sooth than to hear them, How to encounter Achilles & then fare home, having slain him, Or else perish myself, but with glory, defending ny city. But should I lay them aside, this shield all studded with bosses, Also my ponderous helmet, and, leaning my spear on the rampart, Then go forward just so till 1 meet him, the faultless Achilles, Promise him also that Helen and with her all her possessions— Everything, all, what e'er in his hollow ships Alexander Erst brought home unto Troy, the beginning of strife and contention— All we will give the Atridae to take hence; then with th1 Achaeans All things else will divide, whatever the city containeth; Then 1*11 secure thereafter an oath from the Ilian elders Nothing whatever to hide but to halve things evenly with them, All of the substance the lovely city is holding within it— Yet why thus with itself is ny dear heart debating within me? Nay, let me not go into his presence; for he will in no case Pity or spare me— nay, he will kill me, just like a woman, There on the spot, if I am defenseless, naked of armor. No time surely to chaffer with talk from a rock or an oak-tree, Chaffer with him, as perchance might dally a youth with a maiden, Even as maiden and youth hold dalliance one with another; Better in warfare lv> 55-60; III, v, 45-47; III, xi, 9-12; IV, xii, 6-11, (All references to the Faerie Queene are taken from the following edition: Edmund Spenser, The Poetical Works Rrfnmnrf Spenser, ed. by J. C, Smith and E. Oe Selincourt (London: Geoffrey Cumberlege, Oxford University Press, 1947).)



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of the author of the Amoretti that Britomart in her apostrophe to the sea compares her loye to a "feeble barke" tossed on a "huge sea of sorrow,n a figure which is maintained throughout the three stanzas of her speech, or to note that Tin&as repeatedly in a refrain expresses a preference to "Dye rather, dye" than to do something shameful or swerve from his service to Belphoebe, who has saved his life.'*' Nor is a twist of the Petrarchan view of the eyes as the lamp of the soul surprising when Una, thinking Red Crosse has died, addresses her solilo­ quy first to 11le

drearyinstruments of dolefull sight"

and later to

"the lampe of highest Jove," thus reversing the usual attitude toward both.

2 The moralizing element of the medieval drama and the reflec­

tive sententiae of Seneca seem to be combined in Spenser's soliloquies, as in the Elizabethan drama of his time.

Without the obvious quality

of the earlier drama, and with something of the Senecan establishment of mood, Guyon addresses the child, Ruddymane, and speculates on his future.

Addressed to the "lucklesse babe, borne under cruel starre,/

And in dead parents balefull ashes bred," the speech concerns his chance in life, orphaned and left As the budding braunch rent from the native tree, And throwen forth, till it be withered; and it ends with something very similar to the Senecan sententiae and

1Ibid., Ill, v, 45-47. ^bid.. I, vii, 22-23.

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99 also akin to the morality of the early English drama: Such is the state of men: thus enter wee ^ Into this life with woe, and end with miseree. As in Vergil, there are more emotional soliloquies than re­ flective, but there is an element of consideration in Timias1 debate over his behavior toward Belphoebe and in Cymoent's gradual mastering of her anger against Proteus when she thinks his prophecy concerning 2 her son was false. In the classic tradition, too, as was common in the Renaissance, are the frequent references to classical mythology and the addresses to ancient gods:

Cymoent invokes "Fond Proteus"j

Britomart, "Great Neptune"; Arthur the sun.

Also in Renaissance

style, some are addressed to God, as "0 soveraigne Lord that sit'st on hye"


There is, in addition, self-address in Timias1 speech to

himself as ah "unthahkfull wretch. It is often said that the Faerie Queene represents a fusion of classical, medieval, and Renaissance thought, a comment which also might be applied to Tasso's epic. With Tasso, Spenser shares some other qualities:

the use of love as an important element, the serious

treatment of ethical considerations and the inclusion of Christian

1Ibid.. II, ii, 2. 2Ibid.. Ill, v, 45-47; III, iv, 36-37. 3lbid.. Ill, iv, 37; III, iv, 10; in, iv, 60; in, xi, 9. ^Ibld.. in, v, 45.

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thinking, and the love of the miraculous— all found in the soliloquies as elsewhere in the two works. Many soliloquies serve as an aid in characterization and in revealing the allegorical significance of the various persons,


who kills herself and who represents at least partly the evil of ex­ cessive grief, questions the justice of heaven and wishes her child, Ruddymane, to live as a pledge that she did not die of "blemish criminall," and the lack of logic of her soliloquy suits her charac­ ter.

Similarly, it is appropriate to Una's representation of Truth

that she perceives that Red Cross is in difficulty and laments his

2 trials before the dwarf has yet come ne Works of George 1 a. oy A. H. Bullen (London: John C. Nimmo, 1888), 2 vols.)--^George Peele, David and Bethaahe. i, 26-49.

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106 wholly scriptural subject and one which influenced Milton'sParadise Lost* Typical of the Renaissance is Absalon's prayer in which he first begins, "Now, Jove," and later turns to the Jewish God.^ many dramatic-reflective soliloquies may be found.

Almost as

Instances are

David's expression of guilt and remorse and his consequent desire for atonement on learning that the child of Bethsabe is sick and Stucley's reflection beginning, "Why should not I, then, look to be a king," in which he lists all his traits which qualify him for rule.2

jn formal

expression, the soliloquies seem carefully planned, and the emotional monologues are particularly attractive with alliteration and anaphoristic sentence structure, with frequent self—address and numerous apostrophes.

As already mentioned,

the influence of Seneca and of

Italian Renaissance plays is frequently noted,

A tendency to question-

and-answer and self-encouragpnent lends an almost dialogical element^ In Kyd there is more advance in the spontaneity and sincerity of the soliloquy than in any other of Shakespeare's predecessors,^* As XIbid., xii, xiii, 1-16. 2Pavid and Bethsabe. v, 1-10; Battle of Alcazar. II, ii, 69-84, ^Lott, op. cit.. pp. 76-92. ^Arnold, op. clt.. p. 11,

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107 before, there are addresses to the audience,1 and there occur portions in which the characters rather tell that their feeling is strong than

2 show itj

but the lyrical and reflective tone predominates in most

soliloquies, and this type has much force.

Jewwrimn. which is by Kyd

or an imitator, contains, imbedded in the fustian, soliloquies characteristically graphic and psychologically vivid. Here are depicted the mood of battle, the grapple with death and the heart-beat of affection. Throughout the close of the drama, Jeronimo is wont to enter with a little soliloquy, the theme of which is his pride in his son.3 As 5*e Spanish Tragedy is somewhat more inflated in tone, its twentynine soliloquies are more bombastic; yet they reveal thoughts and emo­ tions with a feeling of sincerity.

Hieronimo, whose ravings are ex­

travagant, still seems to speak as the result of real suffering.


are effective combinations of expressions of grief and reflection.^ Frequently the reflection grows from the preceding dialogue or the finding of a letter.

Action during the monolog occurs occasionally,

1Thomas Kyd, Jeronimo. Part I, III, iv, 7-16; SnHm»n Perseda, II, ii, 87-92. (All references to the works of Kyd are taken from the following edition: Thomas Kyd, The Works of Thomaa Ttyd r ed. by Frederick S. Boas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1901). 2Soliman and Perseda. I, iii, 127-136. •^Arnold, op. cit.. p. 11. ^The Spanish Tragedy. Ill, ii, 1-52; II, v, 1-33. 5Ibld.. Ill, ii, 1-52; III, xiii, 1-44.

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108 as in the second act, scene five, when Hieronino, finding a person hanged in the arbor, cuts him down while speaking, and in the third act, scene 12, when, insane, he throws the dagger and rope away only to pick then up again.

In all, Hieronino*s eight soliloquies are con­

cerned with lament and revenge, a favorite subject for meditation in the revenge-plays of the day.

As would be expected in the drama of

Kyd, the Senecan element is strong in the soliloquy as elsewhere; for he uses long entrance monologues at the beginning of acts, frequently

fills out scenes with a long soliloquy, dealing with many complaints, laments, and changing moods and often apostrophising fate, hell, death, 1 or night. Significant in themselves and in their bearing on the Shake­ spearean soliloquy are those of Marlowe.

Although not new in content

or technique, they show their author as a master of both. He adds finish, and he infuses spirit. Therein lies the transfor­ mation. The opening exposition soliloquy of the Jew, the closing death soliloquy of Dr. Faustus,— these are definitive. The one is calm, picturesque, characteristic; the other a hoard of lurid images, fears, prayers, curses, accentuated by the stroke of the clock and the lightning flash, and blended into an emotional climax with the agonized cry, "My God j my God Look not so fierce on me."2


Among Marlowe'8 innovations in the drama is the play centered on one titanic figure whose thirst for the infinite leads to his downfall, and he focuses attention on these Renaissance supermen largely by the soliloquy.



The self-revelation of the Jew has been mentioned) in

i, PP* 97“106, 108,

2Arnold, op. cit.. p. 12.

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109 Dido, the heroine is so overcome by passionate love of Aeneas that she cannot believe that he has deserted her and in hallucination thinks she sees him returning, thus showing the dominantly emotional character of the protagonist.'1' Also, except for two supposedly funny monologs which are questionable as to authorship, all of the soliloquies of Dr. Faustus are spoken by the protagonist, including the speeches which open and close the drama. Further, Tamburlaine‘s soliloquy opening "Black is the beauty of the brightest day"3 shows the speaker, made completely oblivious of the people around him by "some holy trance," in the very ecstacy of grief, made poignant by the exquisite refrain, "To entertain divine Zenocrite." The repetition of a word or line is a trick which Marlowe often uses with subtle effect in his soliloquies.**’ A master of blank verse, Marlowe shows ability to modify its quality to make it respond to the mood of the soliloquizer.

In "The

stars move still" of Faustus,5 Collier has stated that there is "a constant change of pause and inflection, with the introduction of an

Christopher Marlowe, Dido. 7, i, 183-192. (All references to the works of Marlowe are taken from the following edition: Chris­ topher Marlowe, The Works and Life of Christopher MatO rrwn, ed. by R. H. Case (London! Methuen, 1930-1933).) 2Arnold, op. clt.. p. 13. 3Tamburlaine. Part II, II, iv, 1-38. ^Arnold, op. cit.. p. 13. Cr. Faustus. V, ii, 147 ff.

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alexandrine and a hemistich to add to the effect."1 And Arnold2 has pointed out that Tamburlaine's query, "What is beauty, saith my suf­ ferings then?"-* is the kind of passage Lowell referred to when he said: In the midst of the hurly-burly there will fall a sudden hush, and we upon passages calm and pellucid as mountain tarns filled to the brim with the purest distillation of heaven.4


This soliloquy Arnold calls "an aesthetic conception almost too frag­ ile for words, and yet so gracefully phrased that it seems not an articulate thought but rather a longing of the soul."^ Marlowe's indebtedness to Seneca has already been noted* Lott has stated that in his Dido are not only the contents of Vergil's Book IV but also occasional translations of lines and a few Latin verses taken directly from the Aeneid.6 Stylistically, too, the so­ liloquies, like those of Kyd, are touched here and there with euphuism. From these sources, blended with the influence of the medieval


ljohn Payne Collier, History of English Dramat-in John Murray, 1931), III, 131,


Arnold, op. cit.. p. 13.

3 Tamburlaine. Part I, V, ii, 97-128. 4 James Russell Lowell, The Old English PrAmati Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1895), p. 36.




Arnold, op. cit.. p. 13.

6 Lott, op. cit.. p. 108.

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drama, and from his own genius, Marlowe created a soliloquy which he "consecrated as a revelation of thought and feeling," and from him Shakespeare received a "vitalized conception of Senecan introspection as an illumination of the tragic crisis."1 To what extent Milton made use of Marlowe's soliloquies as a direct source is undeterminable, but the frequent statement that the Elizabethan's blank verse influenced Milton suggests something of the great Puritan's admiration, and at least one Milton scholar has pointed out a parallel between Milton's and Marlowe's characterization as re­ vealed in soliloquy.

Hanford, who suggests that throughout his life­

time Milton was strongly influenced by the Elizabethan dramatists, has used as an instance of Milton's inclusion of the dramatic in epic form the characterization of Satan, who is "of the lineage, too, of . . . Elizabethan villains."

Particularizing on this point, Hanford

cites Milton's use of Marlowe's characterization of Mephistophilis Doctor Faustus. for Mephistophilis has a "self—torturing remorse also found in Satan," and he concludes that there can be little doubt that Milton received the first sugges­ tion for his conception of Satan in this aspect from his Eliza­ bethan predecessor.2 There are direct parallels in. phrasing and idea between certain portions of Faustus and the soliloquies of Satan.

For instance, Mephistophilis

1Araold, op. cit.. p. 13.

2 Hanford, "The Dramatic Element in Paradise Lost." pp. 178-195.



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112 speaks of hell to Faustus: Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it. T&ink'st thou that 1 who saw the face of God, And tasted the eternal joys of Heaven, Am not tormented with ten thousand hells, In being deprived of everlasting bliss?1 Similarly, Satan finds that Which way I flie is Hellj

myself am Hell,^

And Faustus in soliloquy suffers feelings of remorse similar to those of Satan: Now, Faustus, must Th™ needs be damn'd, and canst thou not be sav'd: What boots it then to think of God or Heaven? Away with such vain fancies, and despair: Despair inGod and trust in Belzebub, Now go not backward: no, Faustus, be resolute,3 Later, after Faustus has concluded his pact with the devil, he cries: Homo fugei Whither should I fly? If unto God, he'll throw me down to hell,4much as Satan asks himself: which way shall I flie Infinite wrauth, and infinite despair? In addition, the sight of the heavens has an effect on Faustus

iPr. Faustus, I, iii, 78-82, ^Paradise Lost, IV, 75. ^Dr. Faustus, II, i, 1-6, 4Ibid.. II, i, 77-78. ^Paradise Lost, IV, 73-74.

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similar to that on Satan when the sight of the sun recalls for him past glory and brings a confession of remorse and guilt: Wien I behold the heavens, then I repent, And curse thee, wicked Mephistophilis, Because thou hast depriv'd me of those joys.^ Of the device as used by Shakespeare, Arnold has said: Shakespeare's soliloquies reveal the most intimately personal and at the same time the most profoundly comprehensive thoughts of his characters; and they have the distinction . . . of con­ stituting the most original portion of his work. Moreover, they are seldom anecdotes, philosophizings or lyrical outbursts attached to a play by way of ornamentation; but instead, arranged to further characterization and action, they are fused in the structure of the dramas.* Much could be said about Shakespeare's use of soliloquy in comedy, but as Milton's use would parallel more nearly those in the tragedy, that form is the one which will be considered here.


has noted that, in general, there was a development in Shakespeare's use of the soliloquy.

In the plays from Part I of Henry VI to the

Comedy of Errors, the soliloquy was used as a device for telling the story; in the group from King John to Borneo and JbI M . the ruling passion is manifest in the soliloquies, except in the Merchant of Venice, which is so crowded with action that no room is left for the form.

In Henry IV. Henry V. and the Merry Wives. the comic

monologue is exalted, and the soliloquy is used as a rhetorical orna­ ment.

In the group from Julius Caesar to Measure for Measure, there

^Dr. Faustus. II, ii, 1-3.

2 Arnold, op. cit.. pp. 22-23.

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114 is definite advance in technique, expressing itself in greater interest in the psychology of the soliloquizer.

let in the period, the solilo­

quies, though linked with the plot, could easily be dropped from the action, having the unity of isolated monologues.

In the group from

Hamlet to Timon of Athens, there is a difference in degree from the earlier ones with introspection and conscience as dominant qualities of the great soliloquies of this period.

In the last plays there is

no one trend, except for a dwindling of the soliloquy and a miscella­ neous content and purpose.

There is, however, an exception here, as

there are more soliloquies, both in number and length, in Cymbal ^we than in any other Shakespearean drama.^ Shakespeare's use of the soliloquy covers all possible types noted previously, and may be discussed as those which are expository, which accompany action, or which are revelations of thought and feel­ ing, all necessarily overlapping classifications.

Among expository

soliloquies one might include the initial soliloquy, which occurs once in Shakespeare in Richard Ill's vivid opening speech, where he treats the peaceful state of the realm and his own deformity and villainy, thus giving a hint to the entire action and introducing also the im2 mediate situation. Similarly, the soliloquy may be used for identi­ fication, as in Edmund's speech in which he characterizes himself and shows something of his reasons for action and the direction his action

^Ibld.. pp. 41-47. ^William Shakespeare, Richard III. Ill, i, 1 ff.

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will take.

And both of the soliloquies cited above close with an

identification of the person who comes to interrupt the speaker, the "prepared entrance," which often closes such a soliloquy.


as an expository device, the soliloquizer wears a disguise and explains that he does so for purposes of identification, as in Part III of Henry VI. where the king makes the point of his real identity, not his disguise} in Lear, where Kent identifies himself as the same person with his likeness changed; in the Merry Wives, where Ford tries a dis­ guise to test Falstaff; in Lear, where Edgar tells before he is trans­ formed how he will look and apeak,2 a necessary soliloquy to prepare 3 the audience for his later appearance. Another expository use of the soliloquy is the self-character­ izing monologue, as that of Prince Hal/ who shows his true worth and prepares the spectators for his ultimate respectability, a soliloquy often criticized.

Similarly, characters often reveal the essential

traits of another in soliloquy, as in Lady Macbeth's searching analy­ sis of her husband's nature, Caasio's and Othello's mistaken estimates of lago's honesty, the queen's admission that Pisanio is honest, Edmund's acknowledgment that his brother is noble, and Iago's evalua­

ting Lear. I, ii, 12$ ff. 2Henry 71. Part III, III, i, 23} King Lear. I, iv, 1-7} The Merry Wives of Windsor. Ill, i, 245,}- King Lear, II,iii.


^Arnold, op cit., pp. 47-58. ^Henrr IV. Part I, I, ii, 219-240.

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116 1 2 tion of Othello'8 nature. Self'-characterizing soliloquies are most significant, however, in those of villains.

Though these soliloquies have often been attacked

as psychologically unsound or too open or obvious in their revelations, Stoll has suggested that they are sound dramatic devices; for Shake­ speare, unlike Ibsen, who uses a method of suspense based on gradual revelation, follows a plot structure which depends on the method or anticipation to arouse the emotions and hence suspense

calls for

explicitness and demonstrativeness, a method imaginative if not sug­ gestive.

In this type of drama, the audience is called on for less

"participation" in following the hints of perception given in drama of the other type; and hence the perceptions and emotions of the leading characters must, accordingly, be more amply displayed . . . . This self-revelation or clairvoyance, though for us and even for the Elizabethans it involves a loss in verisimilitude, is essential to the dra­ matic method. The soliloquizing frankness of the villain con­ cerning his purposes replaces as a unifying and exciting element the tell-tale frankness of the ancient Pate, whose role he fills. Even those still more unplausible avowals— on the villain's part, of his own villainy, and on the hero‘s of his own virtue— which are vestiges of an earlier technique (Not the Hellenic, though, for that had the chorus) contribute to the effect^ Iago, whose eight soliloquies are rather progressively villainous, is

^Macbeth. I, v, 16-26; Othello. Ill, i, 43; III, iii, 258; Cymbeline. I, v, 75; King Lear. I, ii, 195; Othello. I, iii, 405; I I , i , 298. 2Arnold, op. cit.. pp. 58-60. ^Elmer E-. Stoll, Shakespeare and Other Masters (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1940),pp. 26-27.

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117 an illustration of this need for explicitness, especially as his epithet with other members of the east is "honest" Iago, of Richard III and Edmund, already mentioned.

So are the soliloquies

Less direct than these

is an estimate of his own character in Angelo, who excuses his evil intentions in the name of love.1 Often the plotting villain states a determination to act, as in Macbeth's "I go and it is done," or in 2 3 Cassius* announcing the means of seducing Brutus. A further use of the soliloquy for expository purposes occurs in Shakespeare's use of the speech for narration of events, either past or present. Most skillfully handled, perhaps, is Hamlet's unobtrusive relation of the fact that his mother has married, too soon, her hus­ band's wicked brother, which comes in his first soliloquy, ostensibly an outburst on the meaningless quality of life,^ In Macbeth's four short speeches, accompanied by hurried entrances and exits and brandish­ ing of swords, there is the sense of battle in a narration of present 5 action. Other instances occur frequently. As for the soliloquy as an accompaniment of action, there are

•^Measure for Measure. II, ii, 162-187« Macbeth. II, i, 62j Julius Caesar. I, ii, 312-326. ■^Arnold, op. clt.t pp. 60-64. ^Hamlet. I, ii, 129-159. '’Arnold, op. cit.. pp. 65-66.

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apostrophes to sleep and speeches over a person who has fainted or died, thus easily revealing to the spectators the condition of the person, since sleep, death, or swoon is difficult to distinguish in the stage. Soliloquies to the dead include five instances in Part II of Henry VI. the prince* s speech over Hotspur, and Channian's over Cleopatra.1 Suicide-soliloquies serve to inform the audience of the method to be used and the intention of the speaker to kill himself, as in Juliet's 2 speech. Further aids to action are the link, exit, and entrance 3 soliloquies. The device as employed to reveal thought and feeling, is, of course, its most powerful use and most readily justifiable in terms of contemporary attitudes toward it.

In this- type occurs a transition

from the soliloquy which is openly speech to that which is a revela­ tion of thought and emotion.

Predecessors moving in the direction of

expression of thought include apostrophes to sleep ani to imagination and self-address, the latter of which occurs in Angelo's, "What dost thou, or what art thou, Angelo?"^ Related to this type is Hamlet's address to his heart and sinews.5 The prayer is also subjective, as

316 322


I, V, iv, 87-101$ Antony and Cleopatra. V, ii,

2 Romeo and Juliet. V, iii, 161-170. ^Arnold, op. cit.. pp. 73-90. AHenSZ_IV, Part II, HI, i, 5-30; Macbeth. II. ii. 36-iO* Measure for Measure. II, ii, 173. -----^Hamlet. I, v, 93-94.

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in the prayer of the king to God to stay his thoughts, Eichmond's prayer for victory, Henry V«s prayer for victory and pardon for his father's sin, and Claudius' struggle to pray.1 In the guise of prayer2 are Lear's moralizing on "You houseless poverty," and Timon's didactic comments addressed to "0 blessed breeding sun" and to the earth, "Common mother thou."^ Probably the Elizabethans were not fully conscious of the sym­ bolic value of using the soliloquy as thought rather than speech, for even when the soliloquy most graphically reveals the workings or the brain, there is apt to be some reference to the tongue as the means of expression . . . Soliloquies of this type include Macbeth's vision of the dagger of the mind which soon turns to his regret at speaking.

Hamlet laments re­

vealing his heart and then speaks, "about, my b r a i n . T h i s use of the soliloquy as an expression of thought has been recognized by Schlegel, who defends it, saying

1ijgSgJPj Part II, III, ii, 136-146j Bichaid III. V, iii, 114-115 i Henry 7 . IV, i, 306-322; Hamlet III, iii, 36-72. ^iqg Lear, III, iv, 27; Ttmonof Athens. IV, iii, 1; IV, iii, 177. ^Arnold, op. cit.. pp. 135-141. ^Ibid., pp. 142-143. %acbeth. II, i, 38-39; Hamlet. II, ii, 617.

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120 . . . the poet has the right in soliloquies to lend a voice to the most inmost thought8.^Moralizing soliloquies also occur in Shakespeare's works, a use attributable in part to the influence of Seneca and the moralities and also to the pervasive influence of the Bible, especially of Eccle­ siastes, Psalms, Proverbs, and Job.

Pointing out that Shakespeare's

moral!zings show progress in thought and technique, Arnold says that "the conventional and ornate gradually give place to the intensive and spontaneous expression of ideas."

As to the advance in thought,

Shakespeare has moved through a cycle beginning with the conventionally sympathetic attitude toward the unhappiness of monarchs, but soon abandoning these long and ornamental speeches for sententious and epigrazaaatic truisms on love and ethics, these in turn giving way to more intimate and intellectual philosophizings on human conduct, and these supby the bitterly misanthropic broodings which conclude with the poignant lament on "that poor man that hang« princes • favors Soliloquies which reveal the workings of conscience are often difficult to distinguish from the didactic ones, but they are, in general, more introspective.

A definite consciousness of the evil of

his intent is revealed in Angelo's speech preliminary to his crime, and he reveals "the strong and swelling evil of his conception" fur­ ther in a later soliloquy and finally recognizes the futility of

^August Schlegel, Lectures on Dr— m « a Art Literature. trans. John Black (2nd ed.j London: G. Bell & Sons, 1902), p. 435. ^Arnold, op. cit.. 153-154.

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121 violating the injunctions of conscience.Similar treatments are Lady Macbeth’s "Nought’s had, all's spent" and the recognition of Hamlet's mother that "To my sick soul, as sin's true nature is, Each toy seems prolog to some great amiss."

Others which show the effect

of conscience are Macbeth's resignation to the unpopularity of his rule and the contrition of Claudius^ when he tries to pray/ Argumentative reflection suggestive of a debate is repre­ sented in Shakespeare as in other writers treated. Whether to com­ mit murder is the theme of Hamlet's broodings, of the consideration of Brutus of the assassination of Caesar, of Angelo's weighing kill-

5 ing Isabella's brother, and of the soliloquies of Macbeth in Act I. Hamlet's famous "To be or not to be" is of this type: The soliloquy is profoundly introspective, the form of debate adding intensity to the musing. The question is tersely put (line 46) and graphically expanded (57-60)j then the advocate for the negative makes a moving plea for non-existence (60-4); the rest of the oolloquy is devoted to the reply of the affirma­ tive, who begins tentatively, apparently granting his opponent's point, but proceeds with increasing conviction to develop a line of reasoning showing, not why man should be, but why he is; the

^Measure for Measure. II, ii, 162-187j II, iv, 1-17: IV, iv, 22, 37. ^Macbeth. Ill, ii, 4-7; Hamlet. IV, v, 17-18. ^Macbeth, V, iii, 19-28; Hamlet, in, iii, 36-72. ^Arnold, op. clt.. pp. 156-157. ^Hamlet, in, iii, 73-96; Julius Caesar. II, i, 10-34; Measure for Measure, n, ii, 175; Macbeth, vil, 1-28.

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conclusion (84-8) terminates the argument of the affirmative and apparently- indicates the decision of the Judge.* In a group of soliloquies called "the trance" by Arnold, the speaker is unconscious of persons around him but keenly alive to his own thoughts.

Produced by a thoughtful mood is Macbeth's reverie on

the predictions of the weird sisters regardless of the presence of Banquo, Boss, and Angus.

A similar type is Lear's outburst in the

presence of the Fool, Cleopatra's appeal to the dead Antony, Othello's farewell to the murdered Desdemona, and Horatio's closing speech to Hamlet.


3 All are spoken in the midst of a crowd. Passions depicted in the Shakespearean soliloquy are arbi­

trarily classed by Arnold as grief, love, Jealousy, revenge, hate, and fear, often not appearing without a mixture of thought or of other emotions,^ and it is this quality which has led Curry to say: Shakespeare's soliloquies , .. . are objective embodiments in words of feelings and moods of which the speaker is only partly conscious. This is the very climax of literature, — to word what no individual ever words.5 As a result of his authoritative study of the Shakespearean ^•Arnold, op. cit.. p, 159. ^Macbeth, I, iii, 116-117, 127-129, 143-144, 146-147; King Lear, III, ii, 1-9, 14-24; Antony and Cleopatra. IV, xiv, 63-68: Othello. V, ii, 358-359; Hamlet. V, ii, 370-371. ^Arnold, op. cit.. pp. 161-162. ^lid.. pp. 162-168. ^Samuel S. Curry, Browning and the Dramatic Monolog (Boston: Expression Co., 1908), p.

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soliloquy, Arnold concludes: In tragedy as in comedy, some of the most notable Shakespearean characters are depicted by means of the soliloquy. The pure pas­ sion of youth, exuberantly phrased in the abundant imagery of nature, is disclosed in the solitary musings of the immortal lovers, Borneo and Juliet. Through the medium of the soliloquy we are made to feel with Macbeth his temptation, his ambition, his fearsome resolve, and finally his miserable recognition of Nemesis. Brutus might appear a murderer and Hamlet a madman, were it not for the soliloquies which reveal their noble natures wrenched by their conceptions of duty. Hamlet without soliloquy would be Hamlet left out. His habit of thinking too precisely on the event con­ stitutes the real tragedy. Likewise the contrition of the criminal Claudius and the humility of the despotic Lear— parables unsur­ passed in the history of the drama— are made intelligible by aid of soliloquy. These instances serve to illustrate the indebted­ ness of dramatic literature to the Shakespearean soliloquy, and indeed, of Shakespeare to the convention of the soliloquy which was ready at his hand.3Studies showing Miltonic use of Shakespearean phrasing, characterization, and situation have been made by Thaler, Taylor, and Hanford;


and several of these instances concern Milton's soliloquies:

Richard Ill's soliloquy in which, conscience-stricken after seeing the ghosts, he realizes that flight would not free him from himself, 3 the murderer, has been compared by Taylor with Satan's recognition

■^Arnold, op. cit.. p. 169. George Coffin Taylor, "Shakespare and Milton Again," Studies in Philology. XXIII (1926), 189-198} Alwin Thaler, Shakspere's Silences (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1929), pp. 139-208; James H. Hanford, A Milton Handbook (4th ed.; New York: P. S. Crofts and Com­ pany, 1948), p. 265-266; James H, Hanford, "The Dramatic Element in Paradise Lost." Studies in Philology. (XIV (1917), 178-195. ^Richard in. V, iii, 182-186.

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that "Which way I file is Hell; myself am Hell."^ Claudius' recogni­ tion that he cannot repent has been likened by Thaler to Satan's solilo­ quizing: 0 then at last relent! Is there no place Left for repentance, none for pardon left? Hone left but by submission; and that word Disdain forbids me.2 Hanford has pointed out that Adam's "meditation on the burden and mys­ tery of human life"3 is like Hamlet's,^ and Thaler adds that this char­ acteristic consideration of a problem is found also in Eve's meditation on the here and hereafter before she tastes the apple.


have also been noted by Thaler in the relationship between Iago's jealous hatred when he sees Othello and Desdemona kiss and Satan's reaction at first sight of Adam and Eve, and between Richard Ill's determination "to prove a villain" and Satan's expressed desire: "Evil, be thou my Good."** Further, the debt of Milton to Elizabethan dramatic practice in his soliloquies has already been touched on.

This judgment is

^Paradise Lost. IV, 75.

2Ibid., IV, 79-82. 3Ibid.. X, 775-788. ^Hanford, A Milton Handbook, op. cit., pp. 265-266; "The Dramatic Element in Paradise Lost." op. cit., 191. ^Othello. II, i, 201-202; Paradise Lost. IV, 505-535; Richard III. I, i, 18-31; Paradise Lost. IV, 110.

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125 echoed by Connely, who says that Satan'8 words in soliloquy are fitting and masterly, no less effective for their length. Here, however, Hilton is reminis­ cent not of Vergil but of Shakespeare, whose villains— Iago, Richard III, Edmund, the Bastard in King John, and the rest— are memorable in similar scenes. Such instances, whatever their significance in terms of actual indebted­ ness, should be sufficient to show that, in soliloquies as elsewhere, Milton found in Shakespeare much to be admired. Probably no study of the Miltonic soliloquy should omit some brief reference, at least, to the soliloquies of Giles and Phineas Fletcher,

Although Milton had known the work of the two poets from

boyhood, there is little in their soliloquies which could have influenced him.

The device occurs very infrequently in the poems of the two

brothers and then is not entirely successful; like Dante, Phineas Fletcher finds a substitute in lyric outbursts in which, in the person of Thyrsis in The Purple Island, he is able to pour forth his religious rapture.

In this poem, a vastly expanded treatment in twelve cantos of

the anatomical allegory of Spenser's Faerie Queene. II, ix, the solilo­ quy serves as a device for varying the narration of Thyrsis to his fellow shepherds.

Once Thyrsis, in response to a question of Bosalsen

about Queen Elisabeth, "the shepherd's queen," apostrophizes the dead queen and explains that her execution of Essex was the result of false reports which she believed and that her death resulted from grief over

Villard Connely, "Imprints of the Aeneid on Paradise Lost." Classical Journal XVIII (1922-1923), 466-476. -----------

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126 1 the earl.

Later, in comparing the work of Charity in caring for the

dead to Antigone*8 performing burial rites for her brother Polyneices, he reproduces the words of Antigone to her dead brother.

The longest

soliloquy in the poem is an address of Electa to Christ, asking that he

3 save her and her knights from defeat.

Couched in language which an­

ticipates, but has less depth than the ecstatic passages of Crashaw, it is introduced by four stanzas in which Electa»s fears, sighs, and moans prevent her speaking.

It is addressed to Christ, "cloth'd

with golden sun, and silver moon," of whom Electa in despair asks: When shall I see thee crown*d with conqu*ring bays, And all thy enemies become as clay? When shall I see thy face, and glory's ray?4Moving into a Petrarchan figure, she compares her soul to a ship and asks Christ to Anchor my soul in thy calm streams of blood: Be thou my rock, tho* I poor changeling rove, Tost to and fro with waves of worldly flood: Whilst I in vale of tears at anchor ride, Where winds of earthly thoughts my sails misguide j Harbour ray fleshly bark safe in thy wounied side


^The Purple Island. Ill, xxxi, Phineas Fletcher, The Purple Island, or the Isle of Man. An Allegorical Poem . . . (London: Frys and Couchman, 1783).

2Ibid.. II, xlviii-xlix. 3Ibid.. XII, xlvii-liii. ^Ibid.. xlix.

5Ibid., Iii.

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This image is continued in the final stanza which closes:


Oh if thou anchor not these threatening fears; Thy ark will fail as deep in blood, as now in tears.^ Being a prayer of sorts, the passage is not a true soliloquy but il­ lustrates something of the manner of Fletcher*s lyric verse in which he, as Thyrsis, turns to God.

In his Appolyonists. he has not made

use of the soliloquy. In Giles Fletcher's "Christ's Triumph over Death," one of the four books of a poem written on Jesus' experiences on earth, occurs the one instance of soliloquy in the work of this poet.^ This is less a lyric outcry and more in the tradition of previous soliloquies— a speech of Joseph as he holds the dead Christ in his aims.

He begins

by speaking to Mary, but gradually moves into an address to his Son in a manner often found in ancient soliloquy.

Throughout, Fletcher

makes use of contrast between Christ's suffering ani death and his sacrifice for others.

After several stanzas in which Joseph, oblivious

of the other mourners, addresses Christ, he again becomes conscious of their presence and closes by speaking to them. Neither brother uses the soliloquy for purposes of characteri­ zation, but as a device for expression of religious feeling.


neither is there much trace of the qualities to be found in Miltonic

1Ibld.. liii. 2 Stanzas 55-64 of Giles Fletcher, "Christ's Triumph over Death," The Complete Poems of Giles Fletcher, ed. by Alexander B. Grosart (London: Chatto Windus, 1876), pp. 214-218.


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soliloquies, though the two poets were read and admired by Milton. Although the discussion of the soliloquy in this chapter is necessarily sketchy and selective, it should be sufficient to touch on some of the major works with which Milton was familiar and to indicate in what wealth the form may be found, in literature up to his time. Just what Milton did with the traditional soliloquy will be the subject of succeeding discussion. Here, however, it might be well to give, partly by way of summary, partly as anticipation of what is to be said later, some com­ ments on Milton's use of the soliloquy as compared with that of the writers here discussed.

As has been indicated from time to time in

the occasional remarks on similarities of technique between Milton and an author under discussion, Milton took from the epic writers much of the merely technical— the method of introducing and concluding a soliloquy, the motivation in an address to the elements or to some per­ son absent or dead, for example.

His practice in one respect, however,

seems much closer to that of the dramatists.

That is in the use of

Aristotelian dianoia. often translated to mean thought or sentiments. an element of characterization referring to the character's reason for making a choice, his deliberations as revealing his character.


eralizations of the kind to be made here always involve over-simplifi­ cation and hence are not true of each paxticular situation; but it seems that, as a whole, it is in Milton's use of dianoia in his soliloquies that he surpass es the traditional epic soliloquy and parallels the

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129 technique of the drama.

This evidence of the reasons for a character’s

decisions, of his internal conflict in reaching those decisions may be found, it is true, in many epic soliloquies, but it does not seem to exist to so great an extent or to carry as much conviction in others as in Milton.

Of the epic writers, it is to Homer and Apollonius RhrxH

that Milton is closest in this respect.

Homer has a number of speeches

in which the character debates a course of action.

No one would ques­

tion that Homer’s portraiture is significantly individualized, but occasionally in his soliloquies which show dianoia. there is a tendency to repeat situations, as, in the Iliad, in the concern of men as to whether they should stay and fight or flee from battle, and, in the Odyssey, in Ulysses’ recurring problem of determining whether it is friendly or hostile gods who have given him advice.

Many of those in

the Odyssey, too, reveal the character’s misery and pent-up feelings more than they do his reasons for a decision.

In the soliloquies of

Medea in the Argonautica of Apollonius Bhodius, her gradual determina­ tion to betray her father and her country for Jason is the closest parallel to Milton in the use of dianoia: here, however, there is emphasis on form and excessive rhetoric which somewhat impairs the impression of genuineness.

In Vergil there is use of dianoia in the

emotional soliloquies of Dido, who moves gradually toward suicide as a solutionj but there are also many long speeches devoted to laments over the dead, which are so similar in pattern as to. suggest set pieces in the manner of rhetorical laudationea. Many others are brief excla­ mations of warriors who see an enemy approaching and express a wish

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to kill him.

Ovid’s soliloquies make ample use of reasoning as a

means of showing a character’s choice, but, as already indicated, the soliloquies are sometimes marred by artificiality resulting partly from emphasis on situations of unnatural love which are somewhat melo­ dramatically handled and largely from overuse of rhetoric.

In Tasso,

at least in the translation by Fairfax, the many laments of lovers again show less of the character and his choices and more of the ex­ pected traditional treatment of the lover deprived of his beloved. Spenser’8 soliloquies, too, have some use of dianoia but usually verge on the rhetorical and often bear out allegorical significance so that they are less concentrated on the decision of a character as an individual. In Milton's soliloquies, as will be.evident later, there is unusually strong evidence of ability to merge the emotiona 1 and the logical to convey the inner conflict of the characters as they work toward a decision, an emphasis on characterization dramatically por­ trayed in soliloquies which function in the way most acceptable to modern taste— to aid in characterization.

This quality is evident

in almost every soliloquy in Samson Agonistes and Paradise Lost, the two works in which Milton’s soliloquies are most successful.

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Tvrentieth-century criticism of Milton, regardless of differ­ ences, seems to agree on the importance that the poet placed on the human spirit.

Indeed Saurat would limit Milton's belief to two points:

faith in a divine spirit and belief in a moral fall, taking place in every man, which may be overcome through one’s own strength, that is, 1 the divine spirit within one. Ranking Milton among the humanists, Hanford speaks of his desire for freedom for man as the essential con2

dition for the functioning and self-development of the "inner check."

Milton himself gives credence to this conception of his emphasis on the spirit.

In this theory of poetry, he seems to embody the concept that 3

internal beauty determines the form,

and in his poems themselves are

a number of themes suggestive of this view.

^Denis Saurat, Milton: 1925), p. 207.

In Paradise Lost, this

Man and Thinker (New York:

Dial Press,

2 James H. Hanford, "Milton and the Return to Humanism," Studies in Philology. XVI (1919), 126-147. 3

•'See, for instance, Charles W. Jones' "Milton's Brief Epic," Studies in Philology. XLIV (1947), 209-227.


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132 emphasis on inner strength is reiterated when Michael predicts for Adam "a paradise within thee, happier far" than the state in which he existed in Eden, and when Satan in soliloquy confesses, ’’Which way I flie is Hell; my self am Hell,”^

Even an analysis of Milton's visual imagina­

tion indicates a similar view: Heaven and Hell in Paradise Lost are, to be sure, more than states of mind. They are real— but they are real in the sense that joy and pain are real. They are inseparable from the minds both of their inhabitants and of the reader. There is, therefore, an in­ wardness in the descriptions of the two places, particularly of Hell . . . . Moreover, as in the landscape of the mind, concrete and abstract details are forever blending, the abstract frequently emerging with partially visualized concreteness, and the concrete as frequently spreading out like a moving mist and losing itself in abstraction. This whole process by which Milton turns his concrete details inward, rather than attempt to externalize completely his gigantic conceptions in sharply defined and de­ limited images, is not an evidence of the failure of his visual imagination. Bather it is a manifestation of its subtlety.^ These points should illustrate Milton's belief in the Biblical statement that as a man "thinketh in his heart, so is he,"^ and this fact should make his soliloquies, as revelations of the characters' inmost thought and feeling, especially significant.

It is hoped that

this study will show something of the importance of the device in the work of Milton, that for him the soliloquy is not merely a means of varying the epic pattern or displaying the beauties of oratory and

•‘“Paradise Lost. XII, 587; IV, 75. 2Phyllis Mackenzie, "Milton's Visual Imagination: An Answer to T. S. Eliot," University of Toronto Quarterly. XVI (1946), 17-29. 3Prov. 23, 7.

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133 rhetoric but vital to Milton's conception and portrayal of character. Some effort will be made in this chapter to show in what way Milton made use of the conventional devices for expressing soliloquy— his use of the type as speech or thought of a character; his employment of stereotyped or original phrasing in introducing and concluding such a speech; his combination of emotional motivation with expressions of Aristotelian dianoia. a character's coming to decision after debating the proper choice; his practice as to length and distribution of the soliloquy; and his use or abandonment of the standard Homeric motiva­ tions, the address to the hearty to the elements, to the gods.


certain instances of the soliloquy functioning for purposes other than characterization will be notedy such as the short commands of God at creationy employed largely to establish the proper tone; the use of the device for variety, as in Abdiel's speech before he fights Satan; and the soliloquy as an aid to structure, as in Saint Peter's denunciation in Iycidas. In addition, some common types, classified arbitrarily, will be indicated*

the feigned, initial, and disguise soliloquy.


finally, in anticipation of further discussion of the soliloquy primar­ ily for characterization, some conclusions will be stated concerning Milton'8 soliloquies as they appear in his various works. The soliloquy was employed by Milton in his English poetry from the composition of Comus in 1634 to the publication of Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes in 1671.

Although his practice is varied,

certain generalizations may be made about these soliloquies before any

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134 analysis of individual works is begun. In his narrative poems, Milton, like Homer and Vergil, some­ times distinguishes clearly between soliloquies which are spoken and those which are reproductions of a character's silent thought.


reaction on first seeing Adam and Eve is given in a speech which is introduced thus: When Satan still in gaze, as first he stood, Scarce thus at length fail'd speech recover'd sad.^* The same monologue ends, "So spake the Fiend,"2 thus revealing that the whole is spoken, not thought.

Also clearly designated as speech

are Saint Peter's denunciation of corrupt clergy, the apostrophes of Satan to the sun and to the earth, his envious outburst when he sees the love of Adam and Eve, Adam's remorseful soliloquy after the fall, Eve's grief at discovering that she must leave Eden, and Christ's soliloquy after the first temptation. marked as expressions of thought.

A few instances are distinctly For instance, Abdiel, as he sees

Satan approaching, prepared for battle, determines to fight the arch­ angel because of his conviction that virtue is strength, and his so­ liloquy is so introduced and concluded that its being mental rather than verbal is clear:

^Paradise Lost. IV, 356-357. 2Ibid., IV, 393. 3Lyeidas. 113-131; Paradise Lost. IV, 32-113; IX, 99-178; IV, 505-535, X, 720-844, 854-862; XI, 2^8-285; Paradise Begalned, II, 245-259.

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135 Abdiel that eight endur'd not, where he stood Among the mightiest, beat on highest deeds, And thus his own undaunted heart explores. So pondering . . (Noteworthy, too, in the introductory lines is the Miltonic version of the Homeric address to the heart,)

In many cases, however, the intro­

ductory and concluding pattern is confused so that distinction is im­ possible, unless the context reveals which form is demanded.


reaction on learning that Eve has eaten of the forbidden fruit is so introduced that one believes that he is thinking rather than talking: Speechless he stood and pale, till thus at length First to himself he inward silence broke. Yet the soliloquy ends, "So having said."3

Only the fact that Eve,

who stands before him, does not hear this soliloquy enables the reader to determine that it must have been thought rather than spoken.


ambiguously introduced and concluded are Satan's reflection on finding Eve alone, Eve's consideration of whether she should eat the fruit, her exultation after she has yielded to temptation, and Christ's soliloquy in which he reviews his life on earth.^ Like Homer, too, as often in Greek, are the stereotyped

^Paradise Lost. VI, 111-113, 127. 2Ibid.. IX, 894-895. 3Ib£d., IX, 917. ^Paradise Lost. IX, 473-493; IX, 745-779; IX, 795-833; Paradise Regained. I, 196-293. -------

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136 phrases with which Milton commonly concludes his soliloquies.


of those in Paradise Lost end simply) "So saying)" "So pondering," or nSo having said."”*" Others make use of similar ideas:

"So spake the

Fiend," "Thus while he spake," "So spake the Enemy of Mankind," "Thus

2 Adam to himself lamented loud," and "Thus Mary, pondering oft," sional endings are more original:


"Return Alpheus. the dread voice is

past."^ Milton'8 introductory phrasing, however, shows much of the descriptive tendency found in the work of Ovid and Vergil, Tasso and Spenserj for the attitude, state of mind, facial expression, or tone of the speaker is often indicated in this portion.

Satan, for instance,

is thus described before he apostrophizes the sun: Sometimes towards Eden which now in his view Lay pleasant, his griev'd look he fixes sad, Sometimes towards Heav'n and the full-blazing Sun, Which now sat high in his Meridian Tow'r: Then much revolving, thus in sighs began.*1’ And, as Satan sees Adam and Eve, Milton says that aside the Devil turn'd For envy, yet with jealous leer malign 5 Ey'd them askance, and to himself thus plain'd.

Paradise Lost. IV, 536] VI, 127] IX, 179} IX, 780j IX, 833] IX, 917. 2Paradise LoBt. IV, 393} IV, 114} IV, 494} X, 845] Paradise Regained. II, 105.



^Paradise Lost. IV, 27-31. 5Ibid.. IV, 502-504.

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137 Later, having determined to hide within a snake, Satan first from inward grief His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd, and, having found pleasure in the beauty of Eve, he recalls himself to his purpose: But the hot hell that always in bums, Though in mid Heav'a, soon ended his delight, And tortures him now more, the more he sees Of pleasures not for him ordain'd: then soon Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites.2 Similarly descriptive are the introductory portions of soliloquies of other characters.

Adam, having learned that Eve has eaten the fruit,

is thus portrayed: Speechless he stood and pale, till thus at length First to himself he inward silence broke,3 and, after he realises the full horror of his disobedience, he speaks a soliloquy often compared, to the complaints of Job or Hamlet, which is prefaced with: these were from without The growing miseries, which Adam saw Already in part, though hid in gloomiest shade, To sorrow abandon'd, but worse felt within, And in a troubl'd Sea of passion tost, , Thus to disburd'n sought with sad complaint.

1Ibid., IX, 97-98. 2Ibid.. IX, 469-472 3Ibid.. IX, 894-895 4 Ibid.. X, 714-719.

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138 This lament of Adam is Interspersed with another descriptive passage introducing a final section: Thus Adam to himself lamented loud Through the still Night, not now, as ere man fell, Wholsom and cool, and mild, but with black Air Accompanied, with damps and dreadful gloom, Which to his evil Conscience represented All things with double terror: On the Ground Outstretch'd he lay, on the cold ground, and oft Curs'd his Creation, Death as oft accus'd Of tardie execution, since denounc't The day of his offence.1 From these quotations, it should be evident that the introductory por­ tions contribute much to the tone of the soliloquies themselves and are rich additions in their pictures of the speaker and the background. Also, they show in how many cases the Miltonic soliloquy has as a motivating force the overflow of emotion, feeling which is skillfully intermingled with reasoning in most of the monologues. A common occurrence in the soliloquies of Milton is the re­ flection leading to a decision, more frequently found in those of Homer, Euripides, the writers of classical comedy, and Ovid than in others mentioned previously.

Examples are numerous:

The Lady in Comus.

separated from her brothers and following the sound of revelry, con­ siders what she should do when she finds no one there, and Comus, over­ come with emotion at sight of the Lady, determines in soliloquy to


speak to her.

In Paradise Lost. Satan, envious of man, reflects con­

Hbid.. X, 845-852. 2Comus. 169-242; 243-264.

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cerning his newly acquired knowledge that Adam and Eve*8 retaining God's favor depends on their obedience regarding the tree and decides on the argument he will use to tempt them to eat its fruit.1


he checks his feeling of admiration for Eve by reminding himself of his


purpose and determines to try to deceive her.

Also reflective is the

soliloquy of Abdiel when he decides to test his conclusion that virtue is strength by fighting with Satan in the war in heaven and of Eve O

when she considers the serpent's arguments for eating the fruit. Another speech involving Aristotelian dianoia occurs in Paradise Regained when Christ considers the purpose of his stay in the wilderness and concludes that God will provide whatever nourishment he needs.^ Longer than the soliloquies of Homer or Vergil, those of Milton's English poems, averaging about thirty lines, are in this par­ ticular comparable to those of Tasso and Spenser.

Perhaps this greater

length— for it is greater than even that of these two— is at least in part due to the comparatively small number of characters employed by Milton and the relative simplicity of plot.

Spenser or Tasso, for

instance, probably necessarily limited the length of speeches in order to deal with a more complicated plot satisfactorily and to distinguish

Paradise Lost. IV, 505-535. 2Ibid., IX, 473-493. 3Ibid., VI, 114-126; IX, 745-779. 4 Paradise Regained. II, 245-259.

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140 nmnrtg the agents by having a number of them speak, even if more briefly. Perhaps, too, the influence of the classic dramatists, whose characters usually give rather long soliloquies, had some effect on Milton's prac­ tice.

Another possibility is that the confusion of rhetoric and poetry,

common since the time of Longinus, led to Milton's using a length suited to rhetoric, usually more extensive than poetry.

The chief reason,

however, seems to be the greater emphasis in Milton on revelation of character— a revelation made most vividly through the speeches. Something, too, should be said about, the distribution of Milton's soliloquies.

Evenly placed throughout Comas, and occurring

only once in the speech of Saint Peter in Lvcldas. they are in Paradise Lost largely concentrated in Books IV, IX, and X, and appear with de­ creasing frequency in Paradise Regained, with one in Book I, two in Book II, and none in the rest of the poem.

Finally, in Samson Agonis-

tes. where the soliloquies usually follow the Sophoclean and Euripidean practice of arising in the midst of conversation with other actors, the device occurs for the most part in the first half of the drama, where Samson's internal conflict is greatest.

The irregularities noted in

placement in Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained require some attention. It may be that the fact that there are no soliloquies in Books I, II, III, V, VIII, and XII and many in the other books, especially IV and IX, is readily accounted for by the dramatic element in these two books, since the former establishes the background for the climax-— the fall of man, which occurs in the latter.

Also, the fact that the soliloquies

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in Book IV are all spoken by Satan and those in Book 12, with one ex­ ception, are speeches by Adam and Eve would bear out Barker's theory that Milton's purpose in rearranging Paradise Lost in the 1674 edition from its original ten books to its present twelve was, among other things, to bring out a structural division of four books each, the first four dealing with Satan, the second four with Christ, and the last four with man.1 The comparative absence of the device in Paradise Rega^ad may result from the lack of genuine conflict in the characters themselves, for the Son feels no real torment over his decisionsj or it may arise from Milton's deliberately quiet style, frequently noted by critics, perhaps resulting from a desire to achieve Biblical simplicity and from his announced rejection of the classics, an obvious source of the device to a scholar of Milton's range. Certain elements typical of the romanticist, as found in Tasso and Ovid, are absent from Milton's soliloquies.

There are no lover's

laments, so frequently found in these authors j and there rarely occurs a use of the supernatural for effect, though here one might include the Lady's vision of the sable cloud which turns "forth her silver Uning on the night" as a token that heaven protects the virtuous. As in the soliloquies referred to in the first chapter, Milton's speeches make use of most of the conventional devices for introducing

1Arthur Barker, "Structural Patterns in Paradise Lost." Philological Quarterly, m i l l (1949), 17-30. ^Cornua. 221 ff.

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a soliloquy.

Perhaps the apostrophe is the most common means of opening

such a speech.

Satan's apostrophes to the sun and to the earth are

famous examples.


Others are Eve's apostrophes to the tree before and

after she has eaten; Satan's address to his thoughts, as he recalls him­ self to his purpose; Eve's lament on her exile, including apostrophes to Paradise, the flowers, and the nuptial bower; and the Lady's apos­ trophe to "thievish Night," which has stolen away all light by which she 2 might find her way. Occasional addresses are made, too, to persons either dead or absent, as in Saint Peter's soliloquy directed to Lycidas as "young swain"; Satan's discourse to Adam and Eve, who are called, "Ah gentle pair," as he observes them unnoticed; and Manoa's cry to his 3

dead son on learning that Samson has died by his own hand.

A curious

instance of a soliloquy addressed to one present who does not hear the speech is Adam's silent monologue as he looks at Eve after learning that she has sinned.


The address to one's heart, common in Homer, is not found in Milton, although Satan's address to "Thoughts" and Abdiel's speech which

Paradise Lost. IV, 32-113; EL, 99-178. ^Paradise Lost. IV, 745-779; IX, 795-933; K, 473-493} XI, 268-285; Corns. 194-199. ^Lrcldas. 113-131; Paradise Lost. IV, 358-392; Samson Agonistes. 1590-1591. ^Paradise Lost. IX, 896-917.

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143 is described as an exploration of his heart are hints of this traditional activation,1

Instead of this type of address, Milton commonly assumes

that speaking aloud or thinking to oneself is a natural procedure, or is conventionally established in literature, and so the characters speak without any artifice employed to suggest a motivation for their speech.

Of this type are Satan's exclamations on seeing Adam and Eve,

Abdiel's silent debate whether to attack Satan, Adam's self-reproaches after the fall, Eve's exclamation when she learns that part of her punishment will be exile from Eden, Adam's mournful comments on seeing the visions of the future, the Lady's puzzled remarks on finding no one there when she has followed the sound of revelry through the forest, her stating her reason for answering Comus, made to herself before she addresses the "Impostor," Christ's recapitulation of his past as he meditates in the wilderness, Mary's questioning when she learns that her son is gone, Christ's speech after withstanding the first temptation, Samson's recollection of his past glory and present state, his sorrowing lamentation after Manoa leaves, and Manoa's exclamations on learning of Samson's dying at his own hands.2

It seems significant

that this least artificial means of handling a soliloquy is the only one used in Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes, works where the

1Ibid., IX, 473j VI, 113. ^ J a M i s e l ^ s t , IV, 505-535; VI, 114-126j X, 720-844. 855-863170-243J 755-760- Paradise Regained. * 1590-1595 66—104; II, 245-259; Samson Agonisteg. 12-llAr ArtA-Ao.


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144 earlier heroic grandeur is replaced by majestic simplicity.^The prayer, which often in classical literature bordered on the soliloquy, does not occur in this way in Milton.

Although Milton

probably would not have used the prayer only as a device for conveying the character's thoughts to the reader in any case, most of the appeals to God are made in unison by more than one character.

An instance is

the hymn of the angels to Christ at the end of Paradise Regained. More often, the fact that the characters prayed is indicated without their words being included, as in the angelic hymn to God and the mom3 ing worship by Adam and Eve. Once Milton has made unusual use of the soliloquy as a device for suggesting a conversation among several characters, somewhat similar to the Greek chorus.

This is the speech attributed to the followers

of Christ who are distressed by his disappearance into the wilderness. Here, instead of representing their dialogue, Milton unites the speech of all into one "soliloquy" in which the Jewish believers consider their

^It should be mentioned that in this paper the traditional date of Samson Agonistea is assumed, though Allan Gilbert in "Is Samson Agonistea Finished?" Philological Quarterly. XXVIII (1949), 98-106; William E. Parker in "The Date of Samson Agonistea." Philological Quarterly. XXVIII (1949), 145-156; and A. S. P. Woodhouse in "Samson Agonistea and Milton's Experience." Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada. 3d series, XLIII (1949)> Section II, 157-175, have argued for much earlier dating, Paradise Regained. IV, 596-635. ^Paradise Lost. Ill, 372 ff.; IX, 192-2CC.

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145 hopes of delivery by the Messiah and their concern that he has disap­ peared.1 Although most of Milton's soliloquies are closely related to characterization and can best be treated from that approach, a few sees to fulfill principally a need for variety in the narration, a contribu­ tion to the thought or

mood, or the demands

of structure.

Such are the

commands of God at the time of creation, which, in addition to adding variety, also give the Biblical tone essential to the narration of this great act, and the debate of Abdiel as he considers whether to attack Satan, a soliloquy varying a relation which otherwise might grow monoto­ nous and adding ethical proof needed at this time concerning the under­ lying issues.

Most significant purely as a structural element, however,

is the soliloquy of Saint Peter in Lycidas. where the character of the speaker, except as it suggests divine authority, is unimportant, and what he says, as a significant thought division of the poem, is the element of interest.

Barker has described this soliloquy as a struc­

tural device quite clearly: The first movement laments lycidas as the poet-shepherd; its prob­ lem, the possible frustration of disciplined poetic ambition by early death, is resolved by the assurance, "Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed." The second laments Lycidas as priest-

iParadlse Regained. II, 30-58. ^Paradise lost. VII, 216-217; 243; 261; 339-345; 387-394; 396-398; 451-453; VI, 114-126. * 3Lycidas. 107-131.

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146 sjaepherdj its problem, the frustration of a sincere shepherd in a corrupt church, is resolved by Saint Peter's reference to the "twohanded engine" of divine retribution. The third concludes with the apotheosis . . . in which Hilton sees the poet-priest-ehepherd worshipping the Lamb with those saints "in solemn troops" who sing the "unexpressive nuptial song" of the fourteenth chapter of Revela­ tion, The apotheosis thus not only provides the final reassurance but unites the themes of the preceding movements in the ultimate reward of the true poet-priest.l The passage, animated by Milton's strong feeling concerning corruption in the church, is introduced with a wealth of detail common to Milton, Ovid, Vergil, Tasso, and Spenser; Saint Peter as the speaker is suggestively described in terms of his position as head of the church, for he carries the keys to the kingdom of heaven and wears the head-dress betokening his authority.

Further, there is a hint of his

attitude as expressed in the passage in the statement that he "stem bespake" his 'views, especially since "to bespeak" means "to speak against or about," and, therefore, bespake is more apt than simply sgake.

As to motivation, the apparent reason for Saint Peter's solilo­

quy is the fact that Edward King, who was preparing to become a clergy­ man, was considered, either actually or poetically, sufficiently prom­ ising that he might have helped save the church from degradation had he lived. With Biblical simplicity of language, Saint Peter fiercely condemns church hirelings in pastoral imagery referring directly to Christ and the church, represented as shepherd and flock; and though apparently simple, the passage is highly metaphorical.

The unworthy

^■Arthur Barker, "The Pattern of Milton's 'Nativity Ode,»" University of Toronto Quarterly. X (1940-1941), 167-181.

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147 ministers are likened to wolves who "creep and intrude, and climb into the fold"; to those who, uninvited to the shearer's feast, "scramble" to take the portion due others, the church endowment; and finally to "blind mouthes," a forceful expression variously interpreted, which at least suggests the fusion of two ideas into a highly compressed phrases

the spiritual blindness and the gluttony of the hirelings.

Their senoond are "lean and flashy songs" that "grate on their scran­ nel Pipes of wretched straw," onomatopoetic phrasing suggestive of the thin, screeching sound.

And the effect of their teaching is inward

rot and contagion, which, combined with the ravages of "the grim Woolf," the Catholic Church, leaves the people unprotected.

Thus having touched

on the character of the clergy, the effect of their teaching, and the "evil" of the Catholic Church, Milton then brings the whole to summa­ tion in the much-debated line threatening retribution by means of a "two-handed engine."

This powerful denunciation is the more effective

in that it is couched throughout in consistently pastoral terms and suggests all of the evils embraced by the hirelings in a few quick phrases.

As one of the high points in the poem, it is expressed in

more powerful language than the narrative portions linking it to the preceding and following sections, and this change of tone is denoted by the introductory passage already touched on and the concluding lines: Return Alpheus. the dread voice is past, That shrunk thy streams.*

1Lycidas. 132-133.

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143 Obviously, as already suggested, Milton here uses the soliloquy for its content and relation to overall theme rather than primarily for characteri­ zation. Certain conventional types of soliloquies appear in Milton.


borrowing from dramatic practice is evident in Milton’s use of two "feigned" soliloquies, speeches in which the soliloquizer pretends to be oblivious of his audience but actually is conscious of the presence of another-— the early and, as soliloquy, less successful outburst of Comus when, apparently overcome by the speech of the Lady on temperance, he rages against the foolishness of men who practice "lean and sallow Abstinence" before he turns again to answer the Lady directly, and the apostrophe of Satan to the tree, aB in the guise of the serpent he tempts Eve to eat.

In both cases, after a deliberate pretense of

forgetting the presence of others, the speaker "recalls" the other character and finishes the speech to him, much in the manner of .Sopho­ cles 1 true soliloquies.

Though one must allow for differences in

literary type, this use of "feigned" solilo'quy Milton definitely im­ proved on by the time of his second example, the first being experi­ mental, rather long and involved for an emotional outburst, and de­ pendent largely on the method of delivery to be effective as a device of this type.

In the soliloquy of Satan, however, the introductory

portion indicates the mood in which the speaker begins, for, indignant over man’s "mistreatment," and moved to passion, he

^Gomus, 705-735} Paradise Lost, IX, 679-603.

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149 Fluctuates disturb’d, yet comely, and in act Rais'd, as of some great matter to begin.1 Then as Satan burns to the tree, he skillfully Inserts into this highly compact apostrophe hints of his basic argument throughout the whole of the following speech to Eve:

he blesses the "Sacred, Wise, and Wisdom-

giving Plant, Mother of Science," that he now has insight into the causes of all things and can discern the "truth" for the benefit of mibguided mankind.

Thus, he emphasizes the basis of this masterpiece

of persuasion, which is the use of a false example.

This type of speech

for the' benefit of another is found, as already indicated, in classical comedy and Elizabethan drama.

Shakespeare, for instance, used it in

Lear when Edmund pretends to consider the eclipses when he knows that Edgar is approaching and will overhear him.

But seldom is the "feigned"

soliloquy used with greater skill than in Satan’s apostrophe to the tree. Initial soliloquies, used by the Greek, Roman, medieval, and Elizabethan dramatists, may also be found in Milton’s work.

Again al­

lowing for differences rising from genre, one may still safely state that a marked increase in mastery of technique occurs in the second of the two used by Milton. The first— the prologue of the Attendant 3 Spirit in Cornua — is akin to the Euripidean prologue, addressed directly

^Paradise Lost. IX. 668-669. 2King Lear. I, ii, 15 ff. ^Cornua. 1-92.

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150 to the audience, introduced primarily for expository purpose, and lack­ ing motivation.

In the second, the opening soliloquy of Samson Agonis-

tes,^ the protagonist's need to express his misery and suffering serves as excellent motivation for a speech in which expository matter is in­ cluded unobtrusively. In Milton18 earliest use of the initial monologue, the Attendant Spirit of Comus enters to deliver a speech with such beauty of imagery, language, and blank verse that the lack of motivation and dramatic force and the preponderance of expository matter directed to the audience is somewhat overlooked by the reader.

Bush has called attention to the

typically Renaissance characteristics of this speech, noting the mingling of Christian and pagan influences: The speech is a sort of Euripidean prologue, spoken by a guardian angel, about angels and the souls of virtue's servants, who live in Hesperian gardens. The description of the gardens seems to unite traditional accounts of the happy isles with the Olympus of the Odyssey. "Above the smoke and stir" is a dear echo of Horace's "fumum et opes strepitumque Romae." And with "sainted seats" we come to the white-robed elders seated round the throne in Revela­ tion, iv, 4. Representing divine guidance, the Spirit, who, like Dionysus in Euripides' Bacchae. speaks the prologue, appears near the conclusion, and takes part in the action proper, opens the masque by telling whence he has come, thus identifying himself as one of the "bright aereal Spirits,

^Samson Agonistes. 12-114. ^Douglas Bush, Mythology and the Renaissance Tradition in Eng­ lish Poetry (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1932), p. 263.

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151 a self-identification less obvious than that of the morality prologue speakers and quite in the Euripidean tradition.

Following this passage,

he then gives the present setting, earthi and, characteristically, Milton achieves the viewpoint of the character and shows "this dim spot," "this pin-fold here," as it would appear to a spiritual being.


a sweeping description of heaven and earth in a few lines, the Spirit touches, in his analysis of man's weaknesses, on "the crown that vertue gives," so mentioning the theme of the remainier of the poem.


follows a statement of the purpose of the Spirit's visit— to protect the virtuous— and an account of the mythological background of


which the poet gracefully compliments the English and the Earl of Bridgewater.

Then the Spirit relates the background of Comus, son of

Bacchus and Circe, the character against whom he is to protect the Lady, and explains about the magic potion by which Comus ensnares his victims who are so deceived that they believe the change to the face of a beast more beautiful than their original state.

In employing Circe as the

mother of Comus, Milton suggests for the reader the traditional Renais­ sance moralization of the myth so that it represents both "the pagan conflict between reason and appetite and the Christian warfare between spirit and flesh."

In the process, too, Comus becomes more sinister

than the Jonsonian god of good cheer.

Next, the monologue serves a

function often found in drama, to explain a disguise, as the Spirit

1IMd., p. 265.

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152 states that he assumes the likeness of s swain that he may help the brothers and the Lady most naturally without revealing his divine ori­ gin* As is often the case* Milton here adds an element to the conven­ tional form by making the "disguise" portion, a characterization of the shepherd whose appearance the Spirit assumes, a pleasing compliment to Henry Lawses, who set the masque to music and took the part of the Spirit*

The speech closes with another commonplace device in dran®tic

soliloquy, the prepared entrance;

for the Spirit, hearing "the tread/

Of hetefuL steps," becomes invisible.

Obviously, the prologue is pri­

marily expository in purpose. Like the prologue of Euripides, this one shows Milton finding occasion to explain the particular myth which carries the allegory of the masque proper, gives the necessary perspec­ tive from vhich to consider the plot, and establishes sympathy with certain characters at the expense of others.

Further, the prologues

of Euripides and Milton convey true information, so far 83 the drama at hand is concerned, and do not, as a character in the action itseLf should, express the personal distortions often found in varying viewpoints* Milton has, then, msde skillful use of the Euripidean prologue—form for his own ends;

and, though this type of speech may not be to the taste

of modern readers, Milton?s use of such an expository opening is per­ haps more readily defensible than those of Euripides, since Comus is a masque, e form at best only semi-dramatic, Milton’s second use of an initial soliloquy, which will be discussed in relation to characterization in a later chapter, is one of the world’s finest examples of the form.

Like the one just discussed,

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Samson's opening speech contains some exposition,1 Led by a guide to a quiet spot where he may have choice of sun or shade and where he may feel "The breath of Heav'n fresh-blowing, pure and sweet,/ With dayspring born" (all qualities which would delight a blind man), Samson explains his opportunity for a day's rest, a Philistine feast to Dagon; and though this passage is baldly expository, it is significant that Milton here observes 'unity of action' by mentioning at the outset the event upon which the drama must turn,2 If the soliloqpy continued in this vein, one might believe that it is, like the prologue of Comus, an address to the audience; but at once Samson recalls that to him rest for the body means none for the «1 which must repeatedly contrast his past and present condition.

And his

suffering and bitterness increase as he recalls his birth prophesied by heaven and considers his present degradation as a blind slave of his enemies: Promise was that I Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver; Ask for this great Deliverer now, and find him Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke.^ Thus led to question God's purpose, Samson reveals the conflict under­ lying the drama, between his rebellion at the suffering he has endured through loss of prowess and his desire to yield to the will of God; for,

^Samson Agonistea. 12-114, barker, op. cit.. p, 31. ^Samson Agonlstes. 38-42.

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immediately after these expressions of pride and anguish, he stops him­ self to suggest that perhaps what God intended for him would have been accomplished had he himself not sinned by revealing his secret to Dalila.

For his victory, which is to come in the catastrophe, this

latter attitude must triumph; but the conquest of pride is not yet cer­ tain.

Immediately after shifting to self-reproach, Samson turns again

to an outburst of feeling over his many miseries, particularly his blindness, and the passage in which he bewails his loss of sight is one of the most poignant in the whole of MHton*s work.

It is interrupted

by another prepared entrance, for Samson hears the sound of men ap­ proaching and thinks it is his enemies come to insult him further. The differences observable in even such a prosaic summary of the con­ tents of this moving passage and the prologue of Comus are vast:


Comus, there is no real evidence of any internal conflict within the Attendant Spirit or in the characters that will be introduced laterj for, from the beginning, the audience is informed that all will be well for those virtuous men whom heaven protects.

In Samson, there is

evident that internal struggle without which no really great tragedy is possible, and it is this likeness, as well as the isolation of the two heroes, their confessions of guilt, and expressions of defiance, that frequently has caused the prologue to be compared to that of Prometheus Bound. The tone of the two initial soliloquies is in keep­ ing with this difference:

For all its glancing beauties, the Comas

prologue is not one to stir the reader or to arouse his sympathies,

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155 except as beauty of language and verse appeals to him, probably because, in a masque, the spectacle should contribute heavily to emotional re­ sponse and the author relies upon its aid more than in drama.


Samson, the sympathy for and interest in the protagonist is immediately aroused and reaches an emotional pitch seldom found in the opening of a tragedy.

In other words, the Samson prologue has dramatic force j the

Comus passage does not but is, instead, largely expository, a quality decidedly subordinate in the opening speech of Samson Agonistes. Hence, it is evident that Milton's use of the initial soliloquy has broadened and enhanced itself from the earlier to the later example, though each is adequate for its place in literary genre and its function within the poem.

In the earlier, he is Eurlpidean in the way that the Greek drama­

tist used the prologue in most of his works.

In the later, he approaches

the manner of Euripides in Medea or of Aeschylus in Prometheus Bound or the Oresteia. One other conventional type of soliloquy which Milton used has been touched on before, the disguise soliloquy.

Often, as in the

Spirit's explanation in Comus. the character assumes a disguise and thus explains his change in soliloquy so that the audience may not be confused.

Usually a mere device for handling the action satisfactorily,

this type of speech reaches its peak as a means of characterization in Satan's famous soliloquy before he enters the serpent and "imbrutes" himself in order to trick Ere into eating the forbidden fruit.^ Ho

Paradise Lost. IX:


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156 longer needed as an accompaniment of action, as the purpose of Satan has already been revealed in a narrative portion preceding the speech, it becomes a significant revelation of the character and mind of Satan, who, having apostrophized and wondered at the earth, turns to the inner conflict by which good has become evil to him and, recalling his relent­ less effort in leading "well nigh half/Th1 Angelic Name" from God, he reveals the pride that revolts at the "foul descent" of assuming the lowly form of a snake.

Again, as in the case of the initial soliloquy,

Milton has moved from the merely conventional use of a traditional form to a creative expression of new purposes within the accepted pat­ tern.

Of the functions of this great speech as characterization, more

will be said later. A final generalization may be made about the Miltonic solilo­ quy.

Milton's practice is curiously fluctuating, partly because of

the adjustment to the varying forms and purposes of his work.

It is

hoped that the following chapter will reveal the truth of some of the statements made here.

In Comus. the soliloquy is formal, often ex­

pository, and frequently unmoving.

Although the speeches are carefully

organized and beautifully worded, only occasional portions of the Lady's soliloquies and the comments of Comus on first seeing the heroine show real feeling.^

In Paradise Lost. Milton made use of soliloquies of a

range and beauty comparable to and in many cases surpassing the finest of all western literature.

Most of them are flawless examples of

1Coraus, 169-242, 754-760, 243-264.

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157 literary art in themselves and are carefully- related to the setting, plot, and theme in addition to characterizing the speakers with consum­ mate skill.

The soliloquies of Paradise Regained, however, return to

something of the flatness noted in the' Comus passages, perhaps because here, as in Comus, the conflict is, in general, not internal (in the characters) but called for by the plot.

Christ could not be depicted

as feeling inner turmoil without losing his divinity.

Satan's diffi­

culties are, as a rule, expressed not in soliloquy but in speeches to the other fallen angels.

Only the soliloquy of Mary shows something

of the emotion needed to give fire to a speech of this kind, and hers is resolved rather quickly into patient submission.

Thus, the plot of

Paradise Regained itself is not of a type readily suited to the use of this form.

There is also the possibility that the subdued style

which Milton sought for and achieved in this poem may have influenced his omission of soliloquies, or his determination to avoid the classics to some extent, as indicated partly in his rejection of than in Book IV. Samson Agonistes shows Milton working less in the tradition of the epic writers or of the Elizabethan dramatists than in the Sophoclean form of soliloquy which rises in the midst of conversation between actors when one, overcome with feeling, forgets the presence of the other and speaks as if to himself without regard for the second character.

Of this kind,

Milton's soliloquies are masterly examples, worthy of the conparison which Milton challenged in his introduction to the drama.

Thus, Milton's prac­

tice is uneven, dropping to a merely conventional treatment in Comus and

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Paradise Regained and reaching new heights in Paradise Lost and Samson Agonistes.

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CHAPTER III THE SOLILOQUY IN CCMJS, PARADISE LOST. PARADISE REGAINED. AND SAMSON AGONISTES Any number of approaches might be made to the Miltonic solilo­ quy— a classification as to type, arbitrarily arranged, a comparison of various treatments of similarly organized material, or an approach from the standpoint of the relation of soliloquy to plot, theme, or charac­ terization*

Of these, the study of characterization seems the most lo­

gical for Milton, for his soliloquies are not, . . . as they are in the main w ith the earlier epic writers, merely a means of varying the narrative method or of giving rhe­ torical expression to amotion; . . . they are rather revelations of character and motive and constitute an integral element in the plot.I Further, it is not the plot in itself which first appeals to the reader; he is held by the imaginative treatment of Milton’s vast universe, the interplay of theme in plot, and, chiefly, the effects of the plot on character.

The situations of Milton's major works are, in general, fa­

miliar to every reader; but what he does to them through development of character is new.

Further, there are few of Milton's soliloquies in

which he shows the character as he as author saw him rather than as the 1 James H. Hanford, "The Dramatic Element in Paradise Lost." op. clt.. p. 182. 159

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160 character interprets incidents from his own individual and often distor­ ted viewpoint.

Stoll has noted this quality in Milton1s portrayal of

character in stating that in one respect, . . . Hilton is superior not only to those epic poets jHomer and Dantej but even to Shakespeare,— the matter of giving a character a point of view of his own. Far inferior in plastic power, in the gift for differentiating speech— vocabu­ lary, figure, and rhythm— to fit and distinguish the individual, the epic poet . . . has a clearer consciousness of therela­ tivity of moral judgments. Morals are ordinarily supposed to trouble art, but when they are at their highest potency they too may be a manifestation of mental and emotional intensity . . . . In the lines of the sterner poet ^Hilton^ the man in thewrong does not admit it, but puts others in the wrong instead; and what is good or noble to others is not made good or noble to him. . . . Also, despite his Puritanism, the poet knows . . . that temptations are, to the tempted, not ugly but beautiful; sin, to the sinner, not bitter but sweet; and remorse and repen­ tance not necessarily or immediately attendant upon them,^ Further, an approach through characterization seems the most logical in view of the nature of the soliloquy itself— as the speech of an iiriividual character in which he reveals his thought or feeling as he speaks when alone or through pressure of circumstances forgets that he is not alone. Hence, as speeches, their first aim should be portrayal of character, with references to theme and plot noted incidentally, as they will be given in the following analysis.

i As Milton’s earliest English poem containing soliloquies is Comus. a study of the form there should indicate something of the poet’s experimental practice and show to what extent his soliloquies are success­

>r E. Stoll, "Belial as an Example," Modern Language Motes. XLVHI (1933), 419-427.

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161 ful In characterization.

The theme of Comne has been variously inter­

preted— by Bush as a variation on the common Renaissance treatment of the Circe legend; by Umberlake as a deliberate antithesis to the theme of fertility in nature represented by the Dionysian rites in Euripides' Bacchae; by Ramsay as a heritage from the morality theme of the conflict of virtues and vices, modified by the Platonic conception that chastity is invincible and so lacking the inner struggle of the earlier drama; by Woodhouse as an attempt to integrate the natural and spiritual qual­ ities of man's nature, following the seventeenth-century conception of "orders" of grace and nature; by Saurat as the expression of the triumph of reason over passion resulting from Milton's need to conquer sensual­ ity; by Hanford as the "unassailable security of the virtuous mind"; and by Hardy as evidence that the dramatic action of the poem shows that Christian grace completes and modifies the Platonic philosophy of the Elder Brother, that virtue is not certain of triumph over vice without 1 the supernatural gift of grace. Many of these scholars treat the poem as allegory, but some of them have insisted that its meaning is modified by the dramatic treatment of character and hence that it is not pure allegory but at least allegorized drama or poetic parable.

A study of

Bush, op. clt,, p. 265J P. W, Umberlake, "Milton and Euripides," Essays in Dramatic Literature: The Parrott Presentation Volume, ed. by Hardin Craig (Princeton! University Press, 1935 PP» 320-322; R. L. Ramsay, "Morality Themes in Milton's Poetry," Studies in Philo­ logy, XV (1918), 123-158; A. S. P. Woodhouse, "The Argument of Milton's Comus," University of Toronto Quarterly. XI (1941-1942), 46-71; Saurat, op. cit.. p. 17; Hanford, A Milton Handbook, op. clt., p. 159; J. E, Hardy, "Comus." (Unpublished paper on Comus to appear soon in a book on Milton's poetry by Hardy and Cleanth Brooks, The Poems of Mr. John Milton (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company).


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the characterization of the poem should show whether the characters are successfully individualized, as well as presented allegorically, and the soliloquies themselves give some answer to this question. As the villain of the poem, as well as the liveliest and most real character, Comus should show in his soliloquy to what use Kilton put the device in an early poem and should reveal how successfully Comus embodies both his dramatic and his allegorical character. speaks his soliloquy,

Before Comus

which follows the Euripidean and Sophoclean prac­

tice of arising from emotion so strong that it requires expression before another character is addressed, the reader has already had some hints to his character from the prologue of the Attendant Spirit and from his own speech to his followers.

By the time the god of revelry catches

sight of the Lady and hears her song, his basic traits as an evil force are established.

Yet, in his soliloquy, it is not the Lady's physical

beauty but her spiritual qualities which appeal to him.

He speaks of

her "divine lnchanting ravishment," is certain that "something holy lodges" in her breast, and finds her superior in power to the Sirens and Circe, who merely "lulled the sense" "in sweat madness," rather than gave the "sacred, home-felt delight," "the sober certainty of waking bliss" which the Lady does.

The passage is beautifully arranged to con­

vey this thought, with its unusual picture of the Lady's song as notes floating through the air and caressing and smoothing it as gently as do the wings of a bird in the silent darkness; with its characteristically Miltonic mixture of mythology in its comparison of her song to that of 1 Comus. 243-263.

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163 the Sirens, mho overcame, according to Milton, the fierceness of Scylla and Charybdis; and with its typical conclusion that her song is even more beautiful than those of antiquity* Here, at first glance, one might decide that Milton has turned the character to an unnatural viewpoint and given him lines which carry out the theme— the power of virtue against evil— but which do not accur­ ately represent the perspective of one with Corns’ conception of life. The passage also seems to show an idea of Milton’s:

he (unlike Spenser,

who depicted evil in beauty as that of art, not nature) is said to have believed that beauty is good to the good but depends on good use and is 1 susceptible to perversion. If, however, one considers that Milton may here be intending not allegory but dramatic presentation of a character who is not simply personified evil but an unsympathetio character who has good qualities, then the passage serves a function in characterizing Comusj and in this sense, the soliloquy does reveal a different quality of Comus’ character.

Here, like Satan at the sight of Eve, Comus is

2 momentarily struck "stupidly good."

He is compelled by the Lady's

goodness to realize the power of goodness, but this realization only spurs his desire to win her to his cause.

The question of intent in

th8 soliloquy rests somewhat on how well the prologue and the opening speech of Comus to his followers have established the basic quality of evil in Comus.

As these earlier passages— -the statement of his sinister

■S?oodhouse, op. cit.. pp. 63, 62.

^Paradise Lost. IX, /»6$.

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164 lurking in the forest in the Attendant Spirit’s speech and the demon­ stration of his lack of restraint and perversion of good in his exhorta­ tion to his followers— reinforce each other in establishing his basic character, it would seem possible that the speech was intended as char­ acterization and in that way is not merely an unnatural twisting of Cornus' viewpoint to make it fit the theme.

One would feel more comfort­

able in this conclusion if the beauties which Cornus admires in the Lady were physical rather than spiritual, and to this extent the soliloquy seems to carry the theme more than it characterizes.

But it has been

pointed out that the concession to the charm of Camus is essential. It is impos­ sible to over-emphasize the point that Milton consistently repre­ sents him as a satanic personality, not as a personiflcatlon of evil.**In addition, the soliloquy is skillfully related to the plot, for Comus' appreciation of the Lady’s song increases his desire to ensnare her and thus arouses suspense.

In general, the speech serves the most effective

of functions in establishing another facet of Comus’ character and in addition makes contributions to theme and plot. Like Comus, the Lady is depicted as a real person as well as 2 "the ideal embodiment of informed and fastidious innocence." Her en3 trance soliloquy, a reflective speech leading to decision, shows her

■^Hardy, op. cit., p. 44. ^James H. Hanford, John Milton. Englishman (New York: Publishers, 1949), P* 63.


3 Comus. 169-242.

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165 apprehensions as those of any person lost in a wood at night.


on sensory guide in the absence of her brothers, she is at first astonished to find empty the place where she has heard the sounds of Comus and his crew, and something of her character is revealed in her quick inqaression of the quality of that noise:

it is "Biol) and ill managd Merriment"

such as rustics make to celebrate good harvests with dances which honor amiss the god of the shepherds, Pan.

Her distaste for meeting "the rude­

ness, and swill’d insolence/ Of such late Wassailers," too, shows her fastidiousness.

At this point, giving way to emotion, she recalls her

brothers’ leaving to find refreshment for her when the gray-hooded Eev’n, Like a sad Votarist in Palmers weed Bose from the hindmost wheels of Phoebus wAin,1 lines reflective of her own mood-pensive care replacing lively joys. As her ©notion rises, she indulges in an attack on "thievish Night" for covering with his "dark lantern" the stars which Nature hangs in the heaven to guide the traveller.

Again puzzling over the emptiness of the

clearing in the wood, she wonders whether her mind has been led astray by evil spirits— calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire, And airy tonguesy that syllable mens names On Sands, and Shoars, and desert Wildernesses.^ Here she comes close to the true problem that confronts her in the per­ ception of evil which misleads the mind, and, again indicative of her character, she recalls the sure defense which she has against such dif1Ibid., 187-169. 2Ibid.. 206-208.

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166 ficulties:

her "virtuous mind" and conscience, which, she trusts, will

be aided by heaven if necessary.

Beassured by her recollection that she

has faith, hope, and, an unusual third element, chastity (again striking the keynote of the poem.), she receives further encouragement that her confidence is justified; for, as a token of the "glistring Guardian" which she believes God.sends to the virtuous, a dark cloud parts to send "forth her silver lining on the night."

This symbol finally heartens

her until she decides on further action— to sing to Echo, since she can­ not call her brothers. troubled mood:

Through her speech are images indicative of her

for instance, evening, "a sad Votarist in Palmers weed,"

is succeeded by "thievish Night."

In the Echo Song, whose dominant tone

is delicacy and beauty of harmony, there are yet undertones of mournful­ ness, appropriate at once to Echo’s own story and to the Lady's present experience:

Echo is pictured as living on the banks of Meander and in

"the violet-imbroider'd vale," where she listens to the nightingale, typically a bird of sorrow, and perhaps recalls her own tragic love for Narcissus.

The song ends gracefully with a promise of raising Echo, as

daughter of the spheres, to the skies, where she may redouble the sound of the heavenly music.

This appeal to the nymph, however, is not prop­

erly part of the soliloquy, not giving the thoughts of the speaker to herself, and it is with that portion that we are here concerned. Sufficient should have been said to indicate that the basic qualities of the Lady's character are revealed in the course of the soliloquy.

Further, she is not a mere allegorical figure:

Her fears

are those of a real person; her faith is at least typical of some per­ sons.

And here one is on surer ground in not assigning her speech to

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167 Milton’a attempt to convey theme through the speech of characters. There are portions, however, which are also related to the theme, as the Lady’s touching on one source of strength— chastity, and her confidence that virtue does give one power and a promise of aid from heaven, a truth borne out in the course of the poem itself.

Her appearance also

allows opportunity for some further exposition of the reasons why she is wandering alone in the wood, though this speech, unlike the prologue, includes the information in such a way that its expository function is less noticeable.

let it is in this expository use and in the relation

of the Lady's speech to Comus1 reaction to her beauty that the soliloquy is connected with the plot. speech as a whole:

A further link is the motivation for the

the fact that she has come there on hearing the

sounds of men who might help her find her way out of the forest.


her soliloquy arouses some dramatic interest, Tillyard has commented that when the Lady speaks such poetry, we heed only the poetry and forget her desperate plight.^ His criticism might well be made of the whole masque, but it should be remembered that the work is a masque, not a drama proper, and as a semidramatic form should not be expected to fulfill the promise of true drama.

As soliloquy within a masque, the speech of the Lady, though

with the drawback indicated by Tillyard, is successful in arousing in­ terest, in motivation, in furnishing links for the plot, in development of the theme, and in characterisation. The only other soliloquy by the Lady is a brief outburst spoken

^E. M. W. Tillyard, Milton (London:

Chatto and Windus, 1946),

p. 68.

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168 to herself before answering Comus, who has Just delivered his famous speech in condemnation of abstinence and in praise of the fertility of nature, whose law man is urged to follow. cussed, this one

Like the soliloquy Just dis­

again emphasises the non-allegorical quality of the

Lady, for in it she shows righteous indignation at the false reasoning of Comus and finds that, although she had not intended to apeak, she feels compelled to do so.

Again, too, her speech echoes theme:

must speak to check the pride of vice.


The soliloquy is Sophoclean in

construction, arising in the midst of conversation with another and having as its basis the excess of emotion which leads the character to speak to himself regardless of the presence of others, whom he momentar­ ily forgets.

Sophoclean, too, is the arrangement of this type of solil­

oquy, for it comes before the speaker reoalls the other person present, who is later answered when the soliloquizer has himself under control. Having considered to herself her reason for answering Comus at all, the Lady then addresses the “Impostor" and continues the dialogue.


this speech has dramatic reality, even Tillyard concludes: When the Lady, imprisoned in Camus's magic chair begins her final speech with "I had not thought to unlock my lips/In this unhal­ low' d air. . .," the reader is transported in imagination to the enchanter's bower and watches the drama rather than listens to the melody of the speech.^ And surely it is the naturalness of the outburst which contributes some­ what to this heightened interest.

It is not that the section is less

poetic, for, though brief, it is highly metaphorical.

Comus is a "Jugler"

^Cornua. 754-760.


Tillyard, op. cit., p. 74.

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169 who would charm her judgment as he does her eyes by presenting "false rules clothed in reasons garb." sift her arguments.

And Vice itself is said to "bolt" or

If the soliloquy does make a contribution to the

interest of the climax of the masque, then certainly it has a dramatic function in relation to the plot.

Thus, as in the previous soliloquy,

the Lady*s speech gives indications of theme and plot-connections and aids in her characterization through showing her reasons for action, her dianoia. As there are no other monologues in Comus. except for the pre­ viously mentioned related form— the prologue— and the "feigned" soliloquy of Comus as he opens his speech condemning abstinence, these speeches of Comus and the Lady will have to serve for what conclusions one may draw about Milton's early practice. there are occasional drawbacks.

In general, it is successful, though The limitations found in the soliloquies,

however, may not be laid merely to the use of allegory, for allegory pre­ sumably can be successfully handled when its vehicle, the character or situation, is in itself real and believable on a literal level and at the same time equates with the double meaning. The shortcomings shown / here seem to result from Milton's immaturity of practice in handling the soliloquy of characters who serve an allegorical as well as a represen­ tational function.

The highly poetic beauty of form obscures at times

the sincerity of feeling, and, at least in the first soliloquy of Comus, there is some tendency to make the character's speech conform to theme rather than character.

The soliloquies in Comus do have direct relation

to plot and theme and do serve as aids in characterization, showing some­ thing of what the character is like when expressing his inmost thoughts.

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il A much

moresatisfying treatment of the

soliloquy appears, how­

ever, in Milton's Paradise Lost, where his masterly characterization of Adam and Eve and of Satan reaches a height far above that of Comus. In discussing Milton*s treatment of character in Paradise Lost. Erskine has commented that in the early drafts of his masterpiece he planned a drama with epic elements; the epic which he finally wrote, however, proved in its best moments to be a drama. The soliloquies of the epic are dramatic in their


on character

portrayal and particularly in their revelation

of the inner struggle

which accompanies the action.

to vary the

Not used merely


to convey theme through the mouth of a character, they reveal Adam, Eve, and Satan at moments of crisis when knowledge of their real thoughts is essential to effective presentation. Of the dramatic interest in Paradise Lost. Saurat has said that it lies in the first half in Satan's efforts, and in the second in the 2 human drama between Adam'and Eve. The distribution of the soliloquies, with Satan speaking all of those occurring in Book IV and Adam and Eve all except one in Books EC, X, and XI, seems to confirm this view.


though the two sources of interest overlap in Book IX, the soliloquies of Adam and Eve certainly contribute to shifting the interest from the machinations of Satan to the human beings, permitting the psychological analysis necessary to make Adam and Eve's story bear comparison with the

\john Erskine, "The Theme of Death in Paradise Lost," Publica­ tions of the Modern Language Association. XXXII (1917), 573-582.

2 Saurat, op. cit.. p. 213.

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171 revolt of Lucifer or the victory of Christ. Milton’s characterization of Adam and Eve is in keeping with a common seventeenth-century view that prelapsarian man was perfect, repre­ senting, within the limits of his experience, the knowledge of a philo-

1 sopher and the dignity and ceremony of a king.

Adam and Eve are treated

as ideal man and woman, wholly happy in their relations with each other and with God.

In accord with the theory of the chain of being, of course,

Eve was regarded as inferior to Adam intellectually and physically, sub­ ject to her superior as other creatures, inferior to her, were to her. She has, in addition to dignity as "Mother of mankind," the beauty, puri­ ty, delicacy, and dependence one might expect.

As Adam had named the

animals, so Eve was called on to distinguish the plants; and, appropri­ ately enough, she is frequently likened to the flowers to which she gave a name.

Yet, within her limits, she is not without intelligence, and

2 this quality is revealed in her first soliloquy,

spoken after she has

been deceived by Satan in the form of a serpent and as she considers eating the fruit. Eve had been warned of the danger of Satan, but, perhaps influ­ enced by the dream Satan had induced or else acting on whim, she insisted on separating from Adam.

Satan, appearing in the form of a snake, has

praised her beauty as to be admired by gods, and the fruit as fair, frag­ rant, and appetizing.

Having appealed to her vanity, he then has turned

^C. S. Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost (London: versity Press, 1943 PP. 112-117.


Oxford Uni­

2Paradlse Lost. IX, 745-779.

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172 to the power of the tree to give knowledge, as his ability to speak, though a snake, illustrates; and, when he has learned of the prohibition, has accused God of jealousy and a desire to keep man inferior by denying the fruit, suggesting that it is not God's creation and not under his con­ trol but a product of the sun warming the earth.

Further, he has argued

that he himself has eaten of the fruit and has not died but gained in reason.

If one of Eve's intelligence should eat, she would probably so

improve as to become equal with gods. Acting on the false premise that the snake is only a reptile and that eating has brought the ability to speak, she considers the problem, torn between a desire for knowledge and hesitation to break the command of God.

Satan's arguments had been eloquent but occasionally illogical.

Eve'8, however, though based on a false assumption, are more coherent. The fruit has proved its worth by teaching "elocution to the mute," and God himself has admitted its value by naming it the Tree of Knowledge, a name which suggests man's lack.

(This last argument, incidentally, is

Eve's one addition in her speech to the points made by Satan.)


good unknown is not really understood or appreciated, and the prohibition prevents this understanding, and thus is unfair.

Her declaration that

the prohibition, if it is not good, is not binding is revealing of her will to disobey, not her logic.

Recalling the penalty of eating, however,

Eve pauses to remind herself that "inward freedom" is worthless if they are to die as result of gaining it.

Yet the snake offers further proof,

for it has eaten and still lives; in fact, it now understands, speaks, reasons.

With unconscious irony, she recalls toe generosity of the ser­

pent in bringing news of its discovery to her:

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173 yet that one Beast which first Hath tasted, envies not, but brings with joy The good befallen him, Author unsuspect, Friendly to man, far from deceit or guile. At this point, she becomes resentful, realizing that in her ignorance she does not even know what to fear from death.

Thus having considered,

she determines to eat, summing up the advantages of the tree: Here grows the Cure of all, this Fruit Divine, Fair to the Eye, inviting to the Taste, Of vertue to make wise: what hinders then To reach, and feed at once both Bodie and Jiind?^ Here is a brief statement of all the reasons impelling her to the fatal error:

As ’’the Cure of all," the fruit will permit her to know good and

evil and allow her no longer to remain in ignorance.

It is probably

"divine" in two ways— in its power to give knowledge and in its ability to exalt her.

Then, in climactic order, she lists its attractions:


beauty, appeal to the appetite, ability to make wise. Just what Eve's motives were have been argued at length.


liams says it was a sense of injured merit which brought about her fallj Saurat, sensuality; Hanford, vanity and curiosity; Tillyard, triviality of mind; Diekhoff, wilfulness; and Waldock, a combination of these qual3 ities, particularly triviality of mind. Her first soliloquy, in which

1Ibid.. IX, 769-772. 2Ibid.. IX, 776-779. 3 Charles Williams, "Introduction," The English Poems of John Milton, ed. by H. C. Beeching, with an introduction by Charles Williams. (London: Oxford University Press, 1946), p. xv; Saurat, op. clt., pp. 127-129; Hanford, A Milton Handbook, op. cit.. p. 213; Tillyard, op. cit.. p. 261; John S. Diekhoff, Milton's Paradise Lost: A Commentary on the

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174 she enumerates her reasons, contains a number of these, with sensuality only in the sense of hunger playing a very minor part.

She does seem to

feel some sense of injury in being denied what appears good to her, and her pride and resentment at being forbidden to know enter in. curiosity concerning the nature of the thing forbidden.

So does

Certainly some

inability to penetrate Satan's disguise is also involved, though one wonders how many people would have been able to do so. combination of these qualities is concerned.

It seems that a

Chiefly, her sin seems to

be an excess of a virtue— desire for knowledge beyond what man is per­ mitted to know, a desire which becomes hybris. combined with a lack of obedience which was required as a proof of man's faith. The importance of the passage lies as much in the establishment of sympathy with Eve's tragedy as in establishment of motive; for it is the sense of the disproportion between Eve's being deceived and the con­ sequent penalty that makes her fall tragic.

Whatever the warnings she

had received and however well Milton has established in her a sense of vanity and inferior intelligence before this time, she is deceived, and her emotions and her desire to escape her own limitations are within human understanding and believable.

Contributing to the tragic sense

of the reader is Milton's use of irony, already indicated in Eve's des­ cribing the serpent as "Author unsuspect" and present also in her calling the fruit "the Cure of all" and in her belief that eating will bring

1 "inward freedom." Argument (New York: Columbia University Press, 1946), p. 66; Arthur J. A. Waldock, Paradise Lost and Its Critics (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni­ versity Press, 1947), pp. 38-41* 1Paradise Lost. IX, 771, 776, 762.

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175 The speech, suited to the speaker and occasion, has a quiet tone 'which contrasts with and so intensifies the sense of the importance of the issues involved.

The almost colloquial language and slow rhythm

underline more effectively than would a highly emotional, grandly ex­ pressed soliloquy the significance of this most dramatic moment in Para­ dise Lost. As will be apparent later, Satan's speeches often contain sweeping lines, intricate thought compactly expressed, majesty of diction. In contrast to this, Eve's words, as she begins to speak, have a conver­ sational tone: Great are thy Vertuea, doubtless, best of Fruits, Though kept from Man, and worthy to be admir'd, Whose taste, too long forborn, at first assay Gave elocution to the mute, and taught The tongue not made for Speech to speak thy praise.1 Her process of thinking aloud is reflected in the generally slow pace of her soliloquy and in a tendency to indicate the gradual development of a thought by repeating it, once in general, again in specific terms.


instance occurs in the lines just quoted, where the power of the fruit to give speech to the snake is so treated.

Similarly, as she hesitates

at the thought of death, the penalty of eating, the idea is twice ex­ pressed: But if Death Bind us with after-bands, what profits then Our inward freedom? In the day we eat Of this Fair Fruit, our doom is, we shall die. (It is significant here that Eve assumes that Adam will eat, and die, with her, as he does.)

1Ibid.. IX, 745-749. 2Ibid., IX, 760-763.

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176 The sentence structure, too, is such that the loose groping movement of the mind is revealed, for the construction is not compact, with proper subordination of detail and careful placement of related ideas.

The opening lines reveal this quality in the insertion of a par­

enthetical detail ("Though kept from Man") between elements describing the fruit.

Similarly, there is a tendency to repeat words so that the

repetition causes the speaker to recall a related idea and move on to it.

Noteworthy as an instance of this is the passage in which Eve con­

siders God's prohibition, with its loose structure and elaborate patterns of repetitions Thy praise hee also who forbids thy use, Conceales not from us, naming thee the Tree Of Knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil; Forbids us then to taste, but his forbidding Commends thee more, while it inferrs the good By thee communicated, and our want: For good unknown, sure is not had, or had And yet unknown, is as not had at all. In plain then, what forbids he but to know, Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise?l That the passage ends in a suddenly clear summary of the idea Eve has been pursuing, with its attendant use of anaphora in the forceful repe­ tition of forbid at the beginning of the three parts of the question, shows the natural clarity which accompanies a conclusion just as the preceding material indicates some earlier confusion.

(The passage re­

veals, too, her early fear of naming God directly while considering breaking his command, and throughout the soliloquy, God is not called by name but referred to as "hee who forbids" or merely "he" until Eve

1Ibid.. IX, 750-759.

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177 reaches a decision to defy him.) In keeping with the overall tone of the soliloquy is the fact that fewer figures of speech than usual are employed, and the passage is linked by an elaborate system of alliteration and assonance and by the repetitions already noted.

Alliteration links the following lines, for

instance: In the day we eat Of this Fair Fruit, our doom is, we shall die, and assonance links this use of polysyndeton, the listing of items joined by conjunctions so that each individual member is emphasized: And knows, and speaks, and reasons, and discerns. Accompanying these qualities contributing to verse texture is a use of the rhetorical devices already mentioned— anaphora, polysyndeton, clim­ actic order, and parallelism.

A further instance is the balanced anti­

thesis of the following lines: Under this ignorance of Good and Evil, Of God or Death, of Law or Penalty?^ In fact, as Eve makes up her mind to eat, the speech becomes steadily more rhetorical, with figures blossoming forth after line 758. The passage, then, shows the character of Eve as she moves from her former innocence to evil, and it is fitting for this change that her choice is not a wish to be evil; she is merely deceived.

In addition,

IIbld.. IX, 762-763. 2Ibid.. IX, 765. 3Ibid.. IX, 775-776.

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178 the soliloquy has important relations to the plot in leading up to the fall of man.

It is the culminating moment of the temptation-scene be­

tween her and Satan, and in the speech itself, Eve recognizes that eat­ ing will involve Adam as well and thus includes an understanding of his character and gives foreshadowing of his fall. If Eve’s first speech keeps somewhat in abeyance the ugliness of attitude underlying her decision, the second leaves no doubt:


tree is praised excessively in a half-prayerj resentment against the prohibition has been extended to God, and her love for Adam has changed. Again, the tone, in contrast to the majesty of the speech of the unfallen Eve, is informal and conversational, yet dramatic, as in such lines as: But to Adam in what sort Shall I appear?^ Sir Walter Raleigh has said of Eve that ftiere is a certain dramatic development in her character: after she has eaten of the fruit, audacity and deceit appear in her reflections . . ,■* This development is apparent in Sve’s apostrophe to the tree immediately after she has eaten.

Oblivious of Nature’s sighing as a sign that the

chain of being has been broken by her stepping from her place, she now rejoices in her act, with no suggestion of the hesitation and doubt that occasionally marked her speech before eating.

1Ibid., IX, 795-833.

2 Ibid.. IX, 816-817. 3 Sir Walter Raleigh, Milton (London: i

c n



Edward Arnold. 1915). 9

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179 Indicative of her new certainty are her opening worde in which she addresses the tree with fulsome praise as 0 Sovran, vertuous, precious of all Trees In Paradise, of operation blest To Sapience* and contrasts the excellent results of its use with its previous neglect, hitherto obscur'd, infam'd And thy fair Fruit let hang, as to no end Created . . . ,2 lines which describe the past treatment of the tree in parallel construc­ tion, the first two verbs having general meanings (kept hidden and de­ famed) and the last being so concrete in its picture as to stand out by contrast. Hereafter, she promises, it will be her care to tend the tree with song and praise each morning, somewhat as she had previously offered those things to God,

Her comments on the fertility of the tree make an

interesting parallel to Comus' famous speech and suggest at least a simi­ lar attitude toward the life unrestrained by reason and emulous of Nature itself.

Her "early care," she says, Shall tend thee, and the fertil burden ease Of thy full branches offer'd free to all.3

The motive for eating is again stressed, this time much more forcefully with suggestions of hybris: dieted by thee I grow mature In knowledge, as the Gods who all things know, Paradise Lost. IX, 795-797. 2Ibid.,


3Ibid., IX, 801-802. L

Ibid.. IX, 803-804.

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180 Here it is notable that she no longer speaks in terms of one God, and her following speech shows she agrees with the suggestion of the serpent that the tree is not God's creation but the product of the earth* a gift which the gods begrudge man, as beyond their power to give.

Since the

fruit has ability to make man equal to the gods, Eve argues, they would not have permitted it to grow in Eden had the decision been in their power. After praising the tree, she turns next to Experience (in the sense of making trial) for, as her "best guide," it has led her to hidden knowledge.

That wisdom was "secret" makes her recall her own desire to

be unseen, and she hopes that her sin is undiscovered, since Heav'n is high, High and remote to see from thence distinct Each thing on Earth; and other care perhaps May have diverted from continual watch Our great Forbidder, safe with all his Spies About him.^Here, God has become not merely "hee . . . who forbids," a comparatively unemotional description, but "our great Forbidder," a term indicative of her increased antipathy and reflective of Satan's similar epithets to describe God.

Her real concern, however, is not the reaction of God but

that of Adam,

She considers not sharing with him her "full happiness"

since she might keep the odds of Knowledge in my power Without Copartner^

1Ibid.. IX, 811-816. 2Ibid.. Ijl, 819, 820-821.

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181 and} by becoming his equal or* even more pleasant} his superior} draw his love the more, recalling that inferior who is free?^ thus mistaking} as Satan does, the proper relationship of all created things and the lack of real freedom that comes with stepping out of one's place in the order of the universe.

At this point, however, she recol­

lects that God might have seen and that she might die, leaving Adam to wed another Eve, a thought convincingly human.

This she calls jealously

"a death to think," and decides, therefore, to share with Adams So dear I love him, that with him all deaths I could endure, without him live no life.2 In spite of the obviously selfish quality of this decision, it does not indicate insincerity; for earlier in the speech, in her much greater concern over her future relationship with him than with God, Eve's love for Adam has been shown, as it has also in her belief that being equal or superior to Adam might make his love stronger.

But her tendency to

selfishness has been hinted at by Milton from the beginning; she related that, at her creation, she came upon her reflection in a lake and, like Narcissus, loved herself so that she needed divine warning to be guided 3

to Adam.

So the passage here is not unmotivated, though,of course, her

sin itself would be sufficient.

Self-love, inferior intelligence, and

1 Ibid.. II, 825.

2 Ibid., IX, 832-833. 3Ibid.. IV, 450 ff.

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182 wilfulness have all been Indicated as qualities of weakness before her fall, and they are intensified by her sin, which to Milton, comprehended 1 all sins to which man was afterward subject. From the two soliloquies, before and after her fall, the reader is given an insight into Eve's reasons for sinning and the results of the fall in her character.

Although the soliloquies alone do not serve

as a complete characterization of Eve, as they do, on the whole, of Satan, they are effective in showing the reasoning by which Eve came to her decision, the dianoia which Aristotle describes as an essential part 2 of characterization. As Milton regarded Adam and Eve as representative of all humanity as well as individuals in their own right, her motives probably should involve these qualities.

Her pride in her desire to be

equal with gods, her susceptibility to flattery, her desire for know­ ledge, her resentment of what is forbidden, her eagerness to feel equal— or superior— to others, her spiteful resentment of one whom she has in­ jured, in this case, God,— all of these attitudes are probably common to humanity at large.

Certain of her qualities Milton would have re­

garded as typically feminine— her inferior mental capacity and her jeal­ ousy of a rival for Adam's affections. This passage and the preceding one illustrate also Milton's idea that there is need for distinction between useful and useless,

1 De Doctrina Christiana. Bk. I, chap. xi.


Aristoteles Po. 1450 a, 1450 b.

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183 moral and Immoral knowledge,1 for that the knowledge which Eve gains through eating is immoral is clearly borne out by her attitude in the second speech.

Through this specific example is illustrated once again

Milton’s belief that poetry should lead man to good, though such refer­ ences to underlying theme should not be construed to mean that his method is allegorical.

Further, Eve's acquisition of this type of knowledge

leads to the need for re-education carried out in Books XI and XII. Similarly, the soliloquy has rather obvious relations to the plot:


Eve has decided to tell Adam of her discovery of the effect of eating the fruit, the completion of the fall of man Is all hit settled, for Adam's previous praise of Eve has revealed that he is, in the eyes of Raphael, excessively fond of her and that he will doubtless choose to die w ith her.

Again, the Miltonic soliloquy reveals the power to char­

acterize and at the same time advance the action and embody the theme.

2 Eve*8 final soliloquy,

which occurs after she has undergone a

period of contrition and has received Adam's forgiveness, is also typi­ cally feminine, expressive of her love for her home and of her regret at leaving it.

Listening unnoticed as Michael reveals to Adam their

penalty— that death has been postponed through the mediation of Christ— she is startled into revealing her presence on overhearing the angel's statement that part of man's punishment will be to leave Eden. With a cry reminiscent of Agamemnon's death-cry— M0 unexpected

^Ruth Mohl, Studies in Spenser. Milton, and the Theory of Monarchy (New lork: Columbia University, King's Crown Press, 1949)* PP« 90-91. ^Paradise Lost. XI, 268-285.

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184 4

stroke, worse then of Death!"— she enumerates in a moving lament the dear things which she will miss— Paradise, native soil, walks and shades, flowers, and nuptial bower.

In addressing them, she moves from general

to particular in climactic order.

The lightening of their greater pen­

alty— death, an unknown thing— is as nothing in comparison with this exile from what is known to her, and her grief is the characteristically human one of sorrowing over loss of the thing valued for its familiarity more than rejoicing at escaping a greater but not experienced calamity. Many lines are moving and genuine, as Eve’s regret that she will not be in Eden to spend Quiet though sad, the respite of that day That must be mortal to us both,l and her recollection of tending the flowers: 0 flours, That never will in other Climate grow, My early visitation, and my last At Eev'n, which I bred up with tender hand From the first op’ning bud, and gave ye Names, Who now shall reare ye to the Sun, or ranke Your Tribes, and water from th'ambrosial Fount? But in spite of these lines which have a ring of sincerity, there is an almost too ordered and rhetorical effect in the closing lines which is more suggestive of the Ovidian passion-soliloquies than of genuine feel­ ing.

This quality is noticeable in the address to the bower: Thee lastly nuptial Bowre, by mee adornd With what to sight or smell was sweet; from thee How shall I part, and whither wander down

1Ibld.. XI, 272-273. 2Ibid.. XI, 273-279.

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185 Into a lower World, to this obscure And wilde, how shall we breathe in other Aire Less pure, accustomd to immortal Fruits?-*This speech is not, ostensibly, ended, but is interrupted by Michael who urges resignation; but, in spite of this fact, Eve seems to know that it is being concluded, for she addresses the bower "lastly,"

If this word

could be taken only in the sense of "most of all," it might not give the impression of a carefully organized speech to express emotion; idea of

but the

afinal item in a series so planned lingers about theword


makes the interruption seem unnecessary and the speech a contrived, not a spontaneous outpouring of grief too deeply felt to be expressed with deliberate artistry.

It is not surprising that editors have found in

the passage likenesses to lines in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Sophocles' Philoctetes. and Euripides' Alcestis: the soliloquy is altogether too much in the tradition. It does, however, re-emphasize the qualities which Milton has repeatedly stressed in characterizing Eve— her association in imagery with the flowers which she has named, her womanly duties in Eden, her love of beauty.

Further, it does increase the tragic effect of the ac­

tion, showing her suffering the penalty of her sin and leaving her ready to receive with joyful gratitude the pronouncement of man's salvation through Christ's incarnation and death.

Thus it contributes to the tone

of the conclusion of the poem, with its quiet and sad mood. Probably the most suggestive summation of the qualities of Eve's character before the fall and after is given not in her soliloquies but

LIbid.. XI, 280-285.

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186 in one by Adam*" immediately after she has told him of breaking God’s com­ mand.

Coming to find her with a garland of flowers for her hair, Adam

learns of her transgression, and, dropping the wreath with "all the faded 2 Roses shed," stands speechless, considering the news she has brought him. In silent apostrophe to Eve, he addresses her as 0 fairest of Creation, last and best Of all God’s Works, Creature in whom excell'd Whatever can to sight or thought be form'd, Holy, divine, amiable, or sweet!3 The beauty of this passage has been pointed out by Svendaen, who calls it a sort of threnody for Eve, bringing together all the best epi­ thets that can be applied to her . . . As regards Adam’s character, it is notable first that he, unfallen, addresses her in their cus­ tomary manner, . . . and second, that the passage prepares for Adam's fall by showing that he is in the state Raphael had warned him against of too great subjection to Eve. She is not the "best of all God’s Works"; Adam is. Nor did she at her creation excel anything that can be formed to thought. And finally, the epithets have an ironic effect because they are applied to Eve in her fallen state In the following lines, Adam completes his picture with a vivid contrast between her character before and after the fall: How art thou lost, how on a sudden lost, Defac't, deflow*r'd, and now to Death d evote?^

1Ibid.. IX, 896-917. 2Ibid.. IX, 893. 3 Ibid.. IX, 896-899. Kester Svendsen, "Epic Address and Reference and the Principle of Decorum in Paradise Lost." Philological Quarterly. XXVIII (1949), 185-



5 Paradise Lost. IX, 900-901.

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187 Here, physical qualities are applied to spiritual state in the words "defac't" and "deflow'r'd," and the latter suddenly sums up the loss in Eve's character by recalling the many flower-images applied to her through1 out the poem, now no longer applicable, and by paralleling the chain of images built up through Adam's preparing for her a garland and its withering as she announces that she has eaten the fruit.

In the over2 tones of the word, there is also a Nhint of a lost Eden." Unlike Eve, who still believes that the serpent was only a ser­ pent, Adam is not deceived but, in keeping with his superior intelligence, recognizes immediately the probable reason: Bather how hast thou yielded to transgress The strict forbiddance, how to violate The sacred Fruit forbidd'n! some cursed fraud Of Enemy hath beguil'd thee, yet unknown.3 Because he is still unfallen, he recognizes, too, the enormity of the act in speaking of eating as violating the fruit, but his knowledge does not prevent his sharing her fate.

The enemy has ruined him with Eve,

for with thee Certain my resolution is to Die he says, revealing further that his weakness is being so fond of his wife that his choice is to follow her rather than God.

How strong his love is

1She is, for instance, called, in IX, 432, "fairest unsupported Flow'r" Just before the temptation.

2 B. Bajan, Paradise Lost and the Seventeenth Century Reader (London: Chatto and Vfindus, 1947), pp. 71-72. 3 Paradise Lost. IX, 902-905. 4Ibid., IX, 906-907.

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188 he reveals In his final words to himself before he speaks to Eve: How can I live without thee, how forgo Thy sweet Converse and Love so dearly join’d, To live again in these wild Woods forlorn? Should God create another Eve, and I Another Rib afford, yet loss of thee Would never from my heart; no no, I feel The Link of Nature draw mej Flesh of Flesh Bone of Bone thou art, and from thy State Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe,^ Adam here does not choose the greatest good, but he certainly selects a good thing, human love; and it is in this painful choice that the tragedy is felt.

Yet from his wrong choice, harmony between heaven and earth

will be destroyed. The soliloquy thus serves a double function in characterization. For Eve, it acts as a summary of what has been conveyed of her character before the fall and in the two soliloquies associated with eating the fruit.

For Adam, it serves as motivation for his sin.

In addition to

its value in characterizing, the speech also illustrates a major idea of the poem, showing once again the triumph of passion over reason with which Milton associates the fall.

As an aid to the action itself, it

establishes what had been foreshadowed in Eve's soliloquies— that Adam would decide to follow Eve's choice once she had eaten. 2

Adam's next soliloquy,

the longest in the poem, shows him at

the depths of despair in the realization of the enormity of his sin. The passage is most important, for it shows Adam painfully moving to a

1Ibid.. IX, 908-916. 2Ibid.. X, 720-844, 854-862.

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189 recognition of hie own guilt, a state necessary before the process of re—education essential to the theme can begin*

Adam struggles against

the acknowledgment of his guilt in an impassioned and argumentative manner, much as Satan does in his soliloquy to the sun.

Also like Satan,

to whom he compares himself, showing that he recognizes the similarity, he repeatedly yields ground and finally describes his terror in terms of boundless depths.

Satan in his speech finds that

in the lowest deep a lower deep Still threatning to devour me opens wide, To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heav'n,^ Adam, overwhelmed with remorse, resorts to a similar description: 0 Conscience, into what Abyss of fears And horrors hast thou driv'n me; out of which 1 find no way, from deep to deeper plunged.^ Like Satan's, too, is Adam's consciousness of the contrast between his previous eminence and present degradation.

As will be pointed out later,

Satan makes this comparison by means of recalling how much greater than the sun he once was; Adam opens his lament by describing his glory as the center of the world: 0 miserable of happiel is this the end Of this new glorious World, and mee so late The Glory of that Glory, who now becom Accurst of blessed.3 Probably the two are alike, also, in their great capacity for suffering, a capacity that is greater because they have not previously known misery.

1Ibid., 17, 76-78. 2Ibid.. X, 842-844. 3Ibid.. X, 720-723.

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190 Unlike Satan, however, Adam does not find a solution to despair in em­ bracing evil and determining to continue his defiance of God*

The solil­

oquy ends with Adam completely overwhelmed, lying on the ground and be­ wailing the slow approach of death.

He has reached the point that he no

longer blames God, though he has not yet been reconciled to Eve. In style the soliloquy has much in common with Satan's address to the sun.

In both passages, there is the same insertion of rhetorical

questions, the same shift of rhythm as the thought changes abruptly from one argument to another in the effort of the speaker to escape responsi­ bility and the consequent remorse.

Svendsen has noted in the passage a

tendency to repetition of key words, such as death, dies, and curse, and the use of harsh sounds which give strength and fiber to English verse, such as the repetition of k-sounds in becom, accurst, request, Maker, clay, concur'd, darkness, corporeal, and clod, which "contribute, i unobtrusively but unmistakably, to the emphasis upon Adam's agony."


has said that the style of Adam's soliloquy anticipates the manner of Paradise Regained. In the passage, he continues, manner, diction, and metrical quality are adapted with nicety to the person whose mind and senses are reeling under the first shock of his fall. The foundations of his life are crumbling beneath him. He has lost, with his inno­ cence, not only his self-confidence, but his lucidity of intelli­ gence, his power of sustained reasoning, his control of language, and even his sense of truth. His life has ceased to be a poem, and his words reflect the change. He can conclude nothing; he can fix his mind nowhere. His turmoil of thought issues in bro­ ken language. He can follow out no train of reasoning; he circles

^Kester Svendsen, "Adam's Soliloquy in Book X of Paradise Lost," College English, X (1949)> 366-370.

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191 round in a maze trying ineffectually to find refuge in rhetorical sophistries. His very language, participating in the intellectual and moral abasement, becomes harsh and all but prosaic. The way in which Milton manages this without letting go his hold over the sustained workmanship of the whole poem is no sign of late composi­ tion or lessening power; it is one of the highest proofs which the poem shows of combined skill and daring, of the complete con­ trol which its author had over the science and mechanism of his art.1 Described as "one of the loneliest scenes in literature" with Adam hidden in shadow, completely isolated from God and from Eve, and

2 with even the animals looking at him reproachfully,

the soliloquy paral­

lels the technique of the Euripidean debate or of the soliloquies of Job, with its combination of emotion and reasoning, often twisted by its asso­ ciation with emotion.

As Adam* s thought turns from one point to another,

he addresses first himself, then God, then himself, his descendants, and himself again.

Moving from a consciousness of the extension of his curse

in time through all of his progeny, Adam questions the justice of his creation and the agreement made with God concerning the tree, admits his lack of logic in so arguing, and finally comes to a recognition that the extension in time applies not merely to the curse on his descendants but to an everlasting curse on himself, since he personally will suffer eternally.

As Svendsen puts it, the three themes of the soliloquy—

Adam, immortality, and death— are united in "Adam’s terrified identifica3 tion of himself with his punishment as a single everlasting entity":

^J, W. Mackail, The Springs of Helicon (London: Green, and Company, 1909 p. 176.



2 Svendsen, "Adam's Soliloquy in Book i of Paradise Lost." op. cit. p. 367. 3 Ibid.. p. 369.

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192 both Death and I Am found Eternal.1 The passage opens with Adam's contrast between his former glory 2 and present misery, a contrast which indicates the conflict to follow. Becollecting the pleasure he once felt in the command to increase and multiply, he suffers to think of the curses which thus will rebound to him, imagined as 111 fare our Ancestor impure, For this we may thank Adam.3 Thus Adam shows his consciousness of responsibility toward posterity, but his words here show that he is concerned, "not for posterity, but 4 for what posterity will say of him." In this section, Adam touches on a subject which he discusses with growing unselfishness throughout the soliloquy.

After labelling as unfair his complaint that God's terms in

making the prohibition were too hard, he considers his reproach of God for creating him unasked, in comparison with the similar retort which his own son might some day make to him, with his son begotten through natural necessity, not through choice of creation, as Adam was, and finds that his reproach is unjustified.

Later, he returns again to the subject,

expressing a wish that on him alone might fall the penalty of his sin.

•^Paradise Lost, X, 815-816. 2 Throughout this section, I am indebted to Svendsen's article, already cited, which covers the soliloquy completely. ^Paradise Lost, X, 735-736. ^Svendsen, "Adam's Soliloquy in Book X of Paradise Lost." o£. cit., p. 367.

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193 In addition to this evidence of Adam's growing sense of respon­ sibility for others, his preoccupation with death arouses the imagination. Wishing for extinction, Adam complains that God's hand delays to execute him, that he himself overlives, mockt with death, and length'nd out To deathless pain.2 In this tragic experience of the soul, preceding and determining the out­ ward catastrophe, Adam has been compared to the protagonists of many dramas. He is like those figures of Greek tragedy who feel in their fall that life has no longer any value for them and that it would be better for them not to have been born. The old full life is re­ placed by a feeling of emptiness and futility; the old dignity is lost in despair.^ Perhaps in his brooding over mortality, as in the following lines, Adam is most often compared to Hamlet: how gladly would I meet Mortality my sentence, and be Earth Insensible, how glad would lay me down As in my Mothers lap? there I should rest And sleep secure; his dreadful voice no more Would Thunder in my ears, no fear of worse To mee and to my offspring would torment me

As Svendsen has pointed out, it is interesting to note in this connection that Adam's soliloquy includes "in their order . . . what the theologians, including Milton, called the 'four degrees of death.' The first degree is all those evils which lead to death and which came into the world upon the Fall of man, the most important of which are guiltines and the terrors of conscience. The second degree is spiritual death, which is the obscuring of right reason. The third is death of the body and soul, the very conclusion which Adam himself reaches. The fourth degree— and this, too, realized within the soliloquy— is death eternal, the punishment of the damned.” ^Paradise Lost, i, 774-775. 3 Bowra, From Virgil to Milton, op. cit., p. 207.

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194 With cruel expectation. Yet one doubt Pursues me still, least all I cannot die Least that pure breath of Life, the Spirit of Man Which God inspir'd, cannot together perish With this corporeal Clod; then in the Grave, Or in some other dismal place who knows But I shall die a living Death?1 Of this passage, Hanford says; The yearning for death is expressed in language obviously inspired by the Book of Job; but the weighing of the problem, the shrinking on the brink of the unknown, the sense of mystery which "puzzles the will"— "to die, to sleep! To sleep! perchance to dream!"— all this is Hamlet,2 Adam tries to persuade himself that a living death is impossible, because it is not logical that the soul, the true sinner, should live on after the death of the body, because such a supposition would imply a contradiction in God, a thing impossible, and because death is the utmost punishment that he has capacity to suffer.

Yet the doubt lingers until

it reaches a climax in his conclusion that "both Death and I/Am found Eternal,"

Finally, though he wishes to bear the whole penalty for all 3 mankind, shared with "that bad Woman," he knows that he is unable to do so if it were possible and concludes Thus what thou desir'st And what thou fearst, alike destroyes all hope Of refuge, and concludes thee miserable Beyond all past example and future, To Satan only like both crime and doom.4

1Paradise Lost, X, 775-788. ^Hanford, "The Dramatic Element in Paradise Lost," op. cit.. P. 191. 3 Paradise Lost. X, 837* 4Ibid.. X, 837-8/a.

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195 As his mind broods over these problems of posterity and mortal­ ity, Adam is brought repeatedly to an admission of his guilt: yet well, if here would end The miserie, I deserv'd it Be it so, for I submit, his doom is fair, That dust I am, and shall to dust returns first and last On mee, mee only, as the sourse and spring Of all corruption, all the blame lights due.^All of his reasoning brings him to this conclusion, one which is neces­ sarily accompanied by despair, as he has no hope of God's grace.

It is

shortly after this third reiteration that the soliloquy is broken by a short passage of description.

Night, being no longer beneficent to man

since his sin disrupted universal harmony, is about Adam, cold and gloomy, giving a sense of evil increased by Adam's own bad conscience; and, as he lies on the ground, he cries out again that death has delayed so long and questions Divine Justice that, acting slowly, she Mends not her slowest pace for prayers or cries.2 Recalling again the beauty of his past life, as he has at inter­ vals throughout the speech, he apostrophizes nature: 0 Woods, 0 Fountains, Hillocks, Dales, and Bowrs, With other echo late I taught your Shades To answer, and resound farr other Song.3 It is on this pathetic note that the soliloquy ends, for Adam is inter­

1Ibid., X, 725-726, 769-770, 831-832. 2Ibid.. X, 859. 3Ibid.. X, 861-863.

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196 rupted by Eve, "who approaches to seek reconciliation. This soliloquy is vital in showing a step in Adam's characteri­ zation, for it is a tragic recognition scene in which Adam ccmes to terms 1 with his own guilt and absolves God of blame. The despair, which comes as a necessary result of his fall, is almost unmitigated, but there are evidences in his growing unselfishness of a moral regeneration which will not be made completely possible without God's forgiveness.

Also, it has

been pointed out that the doubts that assail him, provoked by his sin, are , . . evidences of an active mind, Adam is on his way back intel­ lectually, though he is still floundering in emotional upheaval.^ Structurally, the soliloquy has important relations to the rest of the poem.

Svendsen has called attention to the relation between the

passages following Adam and Eve's sin in which the discord moved from them out into the cosmos, producing direct­ ly the external effects of the Pall,^ and the description just before the soliloquy opens when the process is reversed: these were from without The growing miseries, which Adam saw Alreadie in part, though hid in gloomiest shade, To sorrow abandond, but worse felt within,^ in which the effects of the fall move back upon him, and that fact is

^Svendsen, "Adam's Soliloquy in Book X of Paradise Lost." op. cit.. p. 366. 2Ibid.. p. 367. 3Ibid., p. 366. ^Paradise Lost. X, 714-717.

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197 further suggested by tfiat Adam says of his fate: all from mee Shall with a fierce reflux on mee redound, On mee as on thir natural centre light Heavie, though in thir place.1 The same scholar has also pointed out that the soliloquy is important as partial justification for the eleventh and twelfth books, which have been criticized as padding.2 He concludes that Adam's self-correction through reason in the soliloquy is continued in the visions, where Michael's corrections couplete the process. It is not merely that these corrections by Michael provide some suggestion of dramatic conflict in what would otherwise be, as far as Michael and Adam are concerned, straight exposition. They are also, and more importantly, the appropriate psycho­ logical effect of Adam's experience in the soliloquy, and they tie that section to the experience of Books XI and XII. The device of the debate within the soliloquy is paralleled by the debate within the dialogue. The one is not only related to the other but arises out oi' it as a feature of Adam's charac­ ter. The relationship strengthens the sense of structural unity and necessity in the poem as a whole, and, in thiseffect, justi­ fies, dramatically at least, the last two b o o k s . 3 In addition to these relationships to characterization and struc­ ture, the soliloquy is important to the theme of the poem, being the jus­ tification scene in which the promise in the opening lines is made good. In order "to justify the ways of God to man," Milton must show that Adam recognizes his guilt and accepts his penalty as just.

In this way, he

prepares Adam to forgive Eve, who will help him move toward a conscious-

1Ibid.. X, 738-741. 2 Svendsen, "Adam's Soliloquy in Book X of Paradise Lost," op. cit.. p. 366. 3Ibid.. p. 370.

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198 ness of God's mercy so that the promise of future redemption becomes pos­ sible.

The soliloquy also shows, as fully as did the speeches of Satan,

the self-destructive quality of sin and the need for external aid to over­ come evil.

Thus, it is not surprising to find this soliloquy described

1 as "in many ways . . . the most significant single passage in the poem.n 2 Adam's final soliloquy is an unusual one for Paradise Lost, where most soliloquies occur when a character is alone.

This one is

spoken in the presence of Michael, but, like the characters of Sophocles, Adam is so overwhelmed at the sight of the destruction of man at the time of the flood that he seems to forget himself and express his horror before recollecting the presence of the angel and turning to him.


the passage is intended as soliloquy is rather clearly indicated in two ways:

The introductory words themselves show that Adam is not speaking

to Michael: And scarce to th' Angel utter'd'st thus thy plaint,^ and Milton has broken into the narrative at this point to insert his own comments to Adam just before the speech, thus separating Adam's words from the dialogue: How didst thou grieve then, Adam, to behold The end of all thy Offspring, end so sad, Depopulation; thee another Flood Of tears and sorrow a Flood thee also drown'd, And sunk thee as thy Sons; till gently rear'd By th' Angel, on thy feet thou stood*st at last,

^Ibid.. p. 366. ^Paradise Lost. XI, 763-784. 3Ibid.. XI, 762.

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199 Though comfortless, as when a Father mourns His children, all in view destroy'd at once.l The soliloquy comes at the end of an unbroken vision of man's misery— beginning with death and moving through the lazar-house, the picture of the lasciviousness of men in the descendants of Seth and of warfare and lack of respect for righteousness in the attitude of the people toward Enoch, up to the flood from which only Noah was saved.

This cumulative

view of man's endless evil and suffering, extended across space and time, finally brings Adam to a complete realization of the meaning of his sin, and he pours forth his horror. Exclaiming "0 Visions ill foreseen!" Adam regrets learning of such a future, gaining knowledge which is like a weight to crush him: better had I Liv'd ignorant of future, so had borne My part of evil only, each day's lot Anough to bear; those now, that were dispens't The burden of many Ages, on me light At once.^ Using a other figure to convey his pain, he likens these visions of evil to a "birth/Abortive," bringing him suffering before their normal time. Then in a shift to the original image of this knowledge as a weight, he warns man not to seek to learn the future, which is certain to be evil Which neither his foreknowing can prevent, And hee the future evil shall no less In apprehension than in substance feel Grievous to bear.3

1Ibid.. XI, 754-762. 2Ibid.. XI, 763-768. 3Ibid.. XI, 773-776.

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200 He then recalls the last painful scene and concludes that his warning to man is unnecessary, as he believes famine will at last destroy the few who have

escaped the flood to wander on the


Desert.” This brings

him to a

final contrast between what he had


for man andwhat he

has found: I had hope When violence was ceas* t, and Warr on Earth, All would have then gon well, peace would have crownd With length of happy dayes the race of man; But I was farr deceav'd; for now I see Peace to corrupt us no less than Warr to waste.l His recollection of the vision of the flood brings him again to the pre­ sent, and he recognizes once more the presence of Michael, to whom he turns to ask for further information, thus concluding the soliloquy. Coming as it does toward the close of Book XI, the passage re­ presents a sort of climax to the horrors presented and precedes the relatively comforting close in which Michael reveals Noah's coining to land through God1s mercy and the sight of the rainbow that betokens that such a flood will never again cover the earth. Adam18 viewpoint*

It serves, too, to show

Here he is much less impassioned and more nearly re­

signed tothe penalty of God than at the time of the last soliloquy, having been comforted by the evidence of God's mercy; but he is deeply pessimistic about the future, hopeless as it appears at this point.


it shows a fallen, a disordered world, in which Adam is to realize there is a need for nobility.

Speaking of the visions of evil, Bowra has said

that the inherent badness of the world is a challenge to human virtue,

1Ibid.. XI, 779-784.

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201 Milton18 solution to the Fall of Man is that out of it a new UnH of goodness is born and that man can show heroic qualities by doing his duty in the face of great obstacles.^ Adam's ability to conceive of the "new kind of goodness" arises partly from his horror at the visions of man's evil here portrayed in soliloquy, which is at the same time further evidence that Milton would not let the tragedy of Paradise Lost "be obliterated and lost in the theological

2 triumph of good," Thus, through soliloquy, Adam and Eve are shown at their great­ est moments of crisis, undergoing temptation, the remorse which follows, and the gradually increasing sense of the enormity of their sin.


effective as their soliloquies are, those of Satan represent a more com­ plete study of development of character in all its stages and so become a climax, in their artistic fulfillment, to all of Milton's speeches of this type. Much has been said about the character of Satan.


largely externally in his relation to his followers as a determined and unwavering leader of the throng of fallen angels in Books I and II, he shows many of the ideal qualities of such a leader:

fortitude in adver­

sity, skill in heartening the defeated, determination not to yield to the foe even in the face of overwhelming odds, power as an orator, sym­ pathy for his ruined followers, and courage to dare the unknown in an effort to investigate the possibilities of renewing the struggle with

^Bowra, From Virgil to Milton, op. cit.. p. 211, ^Hanford, "The Dramatic Element in Paradise Lost." op. cit., p. 194.

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202 God through guile in overwhelming his new creation, man.

His heroism in

these early books has led to the conception of Blake that "Milton was of 1 the devil* s party without knowing it" and to the equally exaggerated attempts of critics, notably Lewis, to declare that Milton not only was not of the devil’3 party but presented Satan as a fool throughout, at least to the reader at all sensitive to characterization and properly 2

attuned to fillton* s abiding Christianity.

Most students of Milton at

present, it is believed, hold to neither view fully.

Certainly Milton

did not intend Satan as the hero of his epicj equally certainly, he did not set out to depict Lucifer as a fool, for to do so would have made the whole narrative a mere shadow-show instead of involving, as it does, the struggle between the real and powerful forces of evil and those of good.

Instead, in order to establish Satan as a leader capable of per­

suading one-third of the angels to fight against God, he first presents the fallen angel as he appeared to his followers— leading them from the fiery lake, encouraging them not to admit defeat, engaging them in build­ ing Pandemonium, and presiding as they determine a course of future ac­ tion.

Because Satan is portrayed thus in action— and consequently from

the outside— , the reader sees little of his actual thoughts, except for occasional suggestions that he, too, recalls the glory from which all the group fell.

But to Milton such an external picture would be highly

one-sided, and it is in his concern with the spirit as the essence of

^William Blake, "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,11 The Poetical Works of William Blake, ed. by John Sampson (London: Oxford University Press, 1948), p. 249. %,ewis, op. cit., pp. 92-100.

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203 nan that he shows the reader the other side of Satan— his internal feel­ ing and thought— largely through the soliloquies of Books IV and IX. Many critics have noted the difference in characterization which naturally would result from a shift from objective recording of appearance and ac­ tion to subjective analysis of thought-processes.

And the change has

been called so abrupt as to make it appear that in the poem are depicted not one but two Satans.

As Yialdock puts it,

the Satan of the address to the Sun is not a development from the old, he is not a changed Satan, he is a new Satan. We can make the transition from one to the other, I think, in only one way: by spinning a bridge of theory across and above the visible pre­ sentment. . . . I do not think, in other words, that the term degeneration, applied to the downward course of Satan, has any real validity. , . . The changes do not generate themselves from within: they are imposed from without. Satan, in short, does not degenerate: he is degraded.^ Perhaps it is merely "spinning a bridge of theory" to note that there are some indications^ in the Satan of Books I and II, of the inner con­ flict liiich comes to the surface in the soliloquies of the later books. Many of these occur, it is true, in the Miltonic comments rather than in the speeches or actions themselves and hence are scorned by Waldock as further indications of poetic manipulation rather than development of character.

Among these are the statement that the thought of lost happi2 ness and lasting pain torments Satan, the comment following Satan'a speech to his followers that he spoke vauntingly, though in pain and 3 racked with deep despair, and the description of Satan's effect on his

■**Waldock, op. cit.. pp. 82-83. ^Paradise Lost. I, 54-56. 3Ibid.. I, 125-126.

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204 followers as they come from the lake, in which they find themselves not lost In Iobs itself; which on his count1nance cast Like doubtful hues but he his wonted pride Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore Semblance of worth, not substance, gently rais'd Thir fainting courage, and dispell'd thir fears.l A simile also reveals something of the turmoil in the minds of the whole host, which may be assumed to include Satan.

Speaking of the Dorian music

to which the angels marched, Milton tells of its effect: such as rais'd To highth of noblest temper Heroes old Arming to Battle, and instead of rage Deliberate valour breath'd, firm and unmov'd With dread of death to flight or foul retreat, Nor wanting power to mitigate and swage With solemn touches, troubl'd thoughts, and chase Anguish and doubt and fear and sorrow and pain From mortal or immortal minds.^ In addition to these interpretations of the action by the poet, there are indications occasionally in the speech and action of Satan, though, natur­ ally, these are less frequent, as such suggestions of doubt or weakness, if they occurred often, would vitiate his power over his followers. Speaking to Beelzebub of his wish to call his companions from the lake, Satan shows less of the conviction of ability to overcome God than in his speeches later, for he wishes them to share in "this unhappy mansion" or try with arms what may be yet Regain'd in Heav'n, or what more lost in Hell?3

1Ibid.. I, 525-530. ^Ibid.. I, 551-559.

(Italics mine.)

3Ibid.. I, 269-270.

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205 Later, as he looks at his followers before he starts to speak, he is thus describeds but his face Deep scars of Thunder had intrencht, and care Sat on his faded cheek, but under Brows Of dauntless courage, and considerate Pride Waiting Revenge: cruel his eye, but cast Signs of remorse and passion to behold The fellows of his crime, the followers rather (Far other once beheld in bliss) condemn'd For ever now to have thir lot in pain. He now prepared To speakj whereat thir doubl’d Ranks -they bend From wing to wing, and half enclose him round With all his Peers: attention held them mute. Thrice he assay'd, and thrice in spite of scorn, Tears such as Angels weep, burst forth: at last Words interwove with sighs found out thir way.^ Such comments as these also reveal a sense of responsibility and are suggestive of the remorseful Satan of the later soliloquies.

If one adds

to these portions from the early books the experience of Satan as he passes, after

an encounter with Sin and Death, through the disorder of

matter andsound in Chaos, it becomes apparent

that the sight of the

gates of heaven probably w ould prove even more overwhelming than his for­ mer recollections in view of the horror of his experiences preceding this vision.

Looking down from this point onto the gleaming stars and planets,

he assumes the guise of an inferior angel to inquire the way to earth of Uriel, who is standing guard on the sun; and, having arrived on Mount Niphates on earth, he is finally alone and has enough time to consider his experiences.

He looks back at the sun as the nearest and brightest

1Ibld.. I, 600-608, 615-620.

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206 of the stars above, a sight symbolic of all that he has lost.


this recent experience, he recalls even more vividly than in Hell his past gloryj and it seems that the former signs of uneasiness, quelled in the interests of encouraging his followers, taken in conjunction with the fact that he has new re-experienced the beauty of lost light, should adequately motivate the soliloquy which opens Book IV. Before any discussion of the soliloquies of Satan, perhaps some attention might well be given to the question of why Milton chose to shift from the more or less objective, external portrait of Books I and II to the subjective soliloquies of the Satan of Books IV and IX.


viously such a treatment was not possible in the early books as they stand since the establishment of some hope among the fallen angels was essential to the plan of tempting man,

In the later treatment of Satan,

several reasons may have governed Milton's choice, exclusive of such theories of composition as Gilbert's— that Milton embodied in the epic certain portions from his earlier drafts for a drama— and McColley's similar view that perhaps the elements of virtue in Satan's speeches are due to Milton's writing the part first in the early dramatic plans for Gabriel as the character through whom the view of Eden is first de1 picted. Milton may perhaps have felt the need to show the whole of the temptation scenes through the viewpoint of some character involved in the action, and certainly Satan's understanding of the whole situation

Allan H. Gilbert, On the Composition of Paradise Lost (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1947), PP. 52-57; Grant McColley, Paradise Lost, An Account of Its Growth and Major Origins, with a Discussion of Milton's Use of Sources and literary Patterns (Chicago: Packard arid Company, 1940), p. 289.

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207 Is broader than that of Adam and Eve, the only others involved.


this shift in viewpoint from outer to inner emphasis corresponds to the movement of the poem in its stress on a paradise within as a solution. It is, further, possible that, since the narration of the fall would de­ mand some motivation for the human characters, a similar treatment of Satan's mental outlook would bring the superhuman character more or less to the same level and prevent his eclipsing Adam,

An additional value

seems to be that this use of Satan's hesitation and self-condemnation adds suspense and interest to the movement toward the climax in these books.

There is a relationship in theme:

Rajan says that the two views

represent the combination of daring and cunning necessary to true under-r 1 standing of the nature of evil and are imaginatively fused. One cannot help wondering, however, why Milton did not find occasion to show Satan's torment in at least one soliloquy in the earlier books, thus avoiding centuries of scholarly concern at the difference which Milton's shift from objective to subjective treatment of Satan has caused. Mil ton had earlier emphasized that Satan had not yet lost his 2 "original brightness" and appeared only an "Arch Angel ruin'd," and he similarly depicted him as gradually losing the beauty of character which he had in heaven, though there is the statement that such beings do not ever lose all their good qualities: for neither do the Spirits damn'd Lose all thir virtue.3

^Rajan, op. cit.. p. 99. ^Paradise Lost. I, 591-592. 3Ibid.. II, 482-483.

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208 At first, it is this conflict between the virtue which the Apostate still retains and his overwhelmingly evil nature that is depicted in the solil­ oquies, the only place in Paradise Lost where one may trust what Satan says as representing his own feeling.

Awareness of this struggle has

led Elton to say: The real tragedy is played out in the breast of Satan. . . . He is an Aeschylean suffererj and in his 'remorse1— a word that im­ plies both regret for error and the sense of pity— there are many stages.1 Later, however, as one would expect, Satan's internal struggles reveal 8ome self-deception.

It is notable that in his speeches of this type

there is a marked decrease in merit and an increase of qualities which one might ordinarily expect to be associated with Satan.

It i3 this

gradual change as revealed in his soliloquies, combined with Milton's describing his embodiment in various animal foms, which has led to the 2 theory of Satan's degeneration in character throughout Paradise Lost. Certainly the soliloquies bear out the conception* 3 Satan's first soliloquy, the address to the sun,

shows him when

the stress of circumstances— travelling from Hell through Chaos and view­ ing the universe from the gates of heaven~has forced him to an evaluation

101iver Elton, The English Muse: and Sons, Ltd., 1933), p. 239.

A Sketch (London:

G. Bell

2E. N. S. Thompson, Essays on Milton (New Haven: Tale Univer­ sity Press, 1914), p. 184; Lewis, op. cit.. p. 97; S. Musgrove, "Is the Devil an Abs ?" Review of English Studies. XXI (1945), 302-315; Rajan, op. cit.. p. 105; Bowra, From Virgil to Milton, op. cit.. pp. 223-225, 3 Paradise Lost. IV, 32-113.

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209 of his revolt and its consequences.

Addressing the sun at first as remin­

iscent of his glory in heaven, he is soon brought to a recognition that he hates its light as a reminder of his former state from which he fell through "Pride and worse Ambition," the latter worse because it led to action.

Here Satan is the victim of remorse and, as one slight expect in 1 a soliloquy reportedly written first for a tragedy on the subject, apparently closer to Elizabethan than Greek models, it shows some of the qualities of the villains of the Renaissance dramas in its self-analysis and knowledge.

This self-revelation, though it may involve a loss of

verisimilitude, is essential to a method which is largely anticipatory rather than based on the prepared-surprise technique of the dramas of Ibsen.

By building up implication through hints carefully placed in his

dramas, Ibsen is able to have his hero, even at great moments, speak quietly and reticently with telling effect.

But when the reader is not

forced to participate fully by responding to these suggestions, the per­ ceptions and emotions of leading characters must be more amply displayed, as they are in the Satanic soliloquies of Milton.

Such a method allows

the reader to share in the conspiracy and arouses emotion in an imagin2 ative way through anticipation. Further, some of Bethell's comnents on Shakespeare’s conventionalism in writing in verse may well apply to Milton's characterization in the soliloquies of Satan.

That is, he

^Edward Phillips, "The Life of Mr. John Milton," Early Lives of John Milton, ed. by Helen Darbishire (London: Constable and Company, Ltd., 1938), pp. 72-73.


Stoll, Shakespeare and Other Masters, op. cit.. pp. 26-27.

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210 maintains that Shakespeare, because of the tradition of older dramatic technique in the mysteries and moralities, often used "a blending of nar­ rative with the ’truly dramatic’ or representational technique,” a heri­ tage of which Milton was probably conscious through reading the Eliza­ bethan drama.

Thus it seems that as

Shakespeare presents coherently and in fully articulate poetry, what is conscious but not self-conscious in Macbeth,1 so Milton to some extent portrays Satan. But it is not, I believe, his cynical enjoyment of evil which Satan shows in the opening soliloquy of Book IV, but the remorse


condemnation which might be expected of one who had been the brightest of God's angels before his sin.

The reader does not need to be conscious

of the Elizabethan soliloquies of villains with their uncharacteristic confessions of evil to accept the soliloquy, though Satan’s conscious o

villainy at the close is related to them.

Paced with the contrast

between Hell and Chaos and the gleaming universe through which he has just passed cm his way to the earth, Lucifer sees fully the glory he has had, and, torn by passion, moves slowly toward a recognition of the truth of his position, never so fully realized after this time.

He looks toward

the sun, whose light, as often symbolized in Milton, signifies to him di­ vinity, and this opening


1S. L. Bethell, Shakespeare and the Popular Dramatic Tradition Staples Press, Ltd., 1948), pp. 70, 74.


See, for instance, his speech to Adam and Eve, beginning with "League with you I seek . . . ,” Paradise Lost. IV, 375 ff.

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211 is the damned soul's cry to the lesser light that is . . . the type of the eternal beam which stirs in him ‘bitter memorie of what he was.1 This presence of light has an effect on Satan which deserves notice: it reveals him, for a moment, to himself.1 Having called his motive pride, a motive effective both theolog­ ically and dramatically as the Greek hybris, he despairs completely as he admits to himself that God, his Creator, is good and that the burden of gratitude he fglt Has illusory.

As he argues with himself, he inter­

sperses before and after each section a short rhetorical question which lends a tone of argument to his ruminations, and, as he concludes one portion of his self-defense by yielding, he turns to another possible stand.

Next is his wish that he might have been created an inferior

angel so that his ambition might not have aimed so high, but he recog­ nizes that his nature is such that he probably would have followed who­ ever was leader of such a rebellion.

Finding this escape from self-

condemnation closed to him, he considers whether he had free will, a question fundamental to Milton's justification of the ways of God to man, and grants that he had power to choose his own course.

It is at this

point in the soliloquy that Satan finally faces his responsibility and the complete despair attendant on this fact.

Addressing himself as

cursed, he voices this hopelessness in a metaphor, expressed in terms of his recent flight from heaven to hell and recognizing ironically the

2 truth of his earlier statement that "The mind is its own place":


Musgrove, op. cit.. 302-315.

2 Paradise Lost. I, 254.

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212 Me miserable I which way shall I flie Infinite wrauth, and infinite despair? YMch way I flie is hell; my self am Hell; And in the lowest deep a lower deep Still threatening to devour me opens wide, To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heav'n.l He considers an effort to overcome this despair by seeking pardon through repentance but finds that "disdain” prevents it, as does his realization of the scorn he would earn from his followers by such a course.


lection of his position in hell, however, leads him to more consciousness of suffering, for there he is "onely Supream/ln miserie," paying the pen­ alty of ambition.

Exploring further the possibility of repentance and

reconcilement, he finds the answer in his own nature— he would be in­ capable of retaining his former state and would soon rebel again, suffer­ ing some greater punishment.

This reconsideration of the truth leads

finally from remorse to defiance.

Speaking of God as "my punisher,"

Satan then renews his determination by expressing envy for the new cre­ ation, man, who has replaced him and the other fallen angels in God's favor and for whom the world has been created.

Thus convinced of the

hopelessness of repentance, he moves to a determination to which he struggles to hold, with increasing success, throughout the rest of his soliloquies: So farewel Hope, and with Hope farewel Fear, Farewel Remorse: all Good to me is lost; Evil be thou my Good; by thee at least Divided Empire with Heav'ns King I hold By thee, and more than half perhaps will As man ere long, and this new World shall


Ibid.. IV, 73-73.

2. Ibid.. IV, 108-113

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213 Thus closing on a note of defiance, the speech reflects the inner struggle without which Satan cannot force himself to the tempta­ tion.

Standing as it does between the portrait of the determined leader

of the early books and the soliloquies which reveal his lack of fixity of purpose and his gradual movement toward greater depravity, it is, among other things, an excellent means of establishing transition between the two views.

Satan*s reference to his fear of the scorn which the

fallen angels would heap upon him if they knew his inner turmoil shows his motive for concealing this torment.

As a linking force between this

and earlier and later sections, the speech also makes use of an interest­ ing parallelism in the use of light and darkness as a means of reflecting the mood of Satan and of shewing contrasts between his relation to light and that of otters.

In the darkness of hell, he is able to maintain his,

deception fully,* here, in contrast to the light of true divinity which 1 Milton had addressed at the opening of Book III, he is moved to address a lesser light, the sun, in self-revelation not before made.

And, as he

opens his soliloquy in Book IX with an apostrophe to the earth, then in darkness, lighted only with reflected light, so his mood itself is dark­ ened with fewer gleams of the truth he here perceives and greater distor­ tion.

These sections opening with addresses to light establish part of

the elaborate system of contrasts and comparisons among portions of the epic which serve to link the whole. In its unusual combination of establishing the general setting and serving as transition fran. one book to another at the same time that

^Musgrove, op. cit.. 302-315.

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214 it characterizes Satan, the soliloquy is significant.

Reflecting Satan's

former experience and recalling, in its opening vision of the brightness of the sun, the beauty and extent of the universe in which the action of the whole epic takes place, it serves as a reminder of the overall plan of the epic and, in its emphasis on brightness, recalls the scenes in heaven of Book III,

In comparison with the other epics considered in

Chapter I, Paradise Lost is the only one to employ the soliloquy as a structural device relating the parts of the whole work.

Further, Milton

achieves this effect without impairing the artistry of Satan’s character­ ization in the speech. There are also relations to the overall theme and underlying ideas of Paradise Lost. Satan’s speech itself reveals the self-destruc­ tive quality of evil, an idea which Milton repeatedly mentions in the poem.

It establishes by the admission of the Prince of Darkness that

angels have free will and that any action leading to evil is the respon­ sibility of the actor, not of God; it recognizes God as Creator of the angels, a point which Satan had denied earlier in the war in heaven; arri it shows the ascendancy of passion over reason in Satan, an idea repeated throughout the motivation of the fall. As already mentioned, certain parallels in content and style 1 here and in Adam's soliloquy after the fall suggest another thematic relationship:

both Satan and Adam speak in the Jerky, disjointed manner

of one seeking frantically for a solution other than self-responsibility; and this likeness, combined with the widely different solutions which the

1Paradlse Lost. X, 720 ff.

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215 two find, illustrates another conception of Milton's— that Satan, because self-tempted, is beyond redemption, whereas man, being tempted by Satan, is capable of redemption through Christ's sacrifice. Chiefly, however, the soliloquy establishes another view of the character of Satan:

his hatred of good because it is denied him, his

admission of guilt, his motivation in defying God, his retention at this time of ability to know the truth, his inner torment, and his determina­ tion to follow the only course that seems open to him, pursuit of evil. The speech itself is admirably ordered to reveal his character.


from hatred to gradual revelation of his responsibility, it reaches a cli­ max in Satan's recognition of the inevitability of his suffering and its probable increase, and then closes on renewed defiance.

Couched in terms

of disputation similar to the dialectics of many speeches in Euripides, it also seems allied to such Homeric soliloquies of reflection as that of Hector, when, though he realizes the futility of attempting to come to terms with Achilles, he considers the possibility before realizing that there is no choice except to fight and so determines on battle as 1 his only resort. Both reveal dianoia. but there is a difference in the effect of the two passages on the reader.

In Homer, one's reaction is

a deep pity for a hero who is about to die to no purposej here, however, one's pity for Satan is mingled with a sense of revulsion, which becomes the central reaction as the narrative progresses. The style itself is in harmony with the content.

Opening with

a flowing verse-paragraph moving smoothly through praise of the sun,

^Homer Iliad xxii. 99ff.

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216 lioe8 reminiscent of Jocasta's opening lines in Euripides' Phoenissae,^ the passage becomes hesitant in movement as Satan, driven from one defense to another, pauses to question himself or exclaim, stopping the even flow.

Such comments as the following suggest the frantic movement of

Satan's thoughts: Ah wherefore 1 What burden then? Yet why not? Hadst thou the same free Will and Power to stand? Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse, But Heav'ns free Love dealt equally to all? Nay curs'd be thou Me miserable! Which way I flie is Hell; my self am Hell^ 0 then at last relent Such joy Ambition findes • This knows my punisher.^ These short broken passages suggest and reflect the state of mind of Satan himself and show how delicately Milton could adjust style to char­ acter and occasion* The imagery contributes to characterization.

In addition to

the use of light already mentioned, there is a recurring pattern of

^■Lucas, op. cit.. p. 114. 2 Such short phrasing of aphorisms is suggestive of the Senecan and Elizabethan sententiae. ^Paradise Lost. IV, 42 , 57, 61, 66-68 , 71, 73 , 75 , 79 , 92, 103.

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217 Images of height and depth, reflective of the loss Satan feels and of the pride which causes him to be conscious of superior and inferior. There occur also metaphors indicative of bargaining— the process of Satan as he tries to find a possible solution or compromise to the state to which he has fallen.

Standing midway between heaven and hell, Satan

notes that the sun looks from its dominion on stars which hide their di­ minished heads, yet he himself was "glorious once" above its sphere. Contrasted with this picture of height is his recollection of his fall: Till Pride and worse Ambition threw me down-*from "that bright eminence" in which God created him.

He recalls, too,

that lifted up so high I sdeined subjection, and thought one step higher Would set me highest* %

let, paradoxically, this step higher, he finds, has thrown him lower: And in the lowest deep a lower deep Still threatening to devour me opens wide, To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heav'n.^ This contrast between height and depth is continued in his discussion of his apparent position in hell and his real feeling: With Diadem and Sceptre high advance The lower still I fall, onely Supream In miserie,^

1Ibld.. IV, 40. 2Ibid.. IV, 48-50. 3Ibid.. IV, 76-78. ^Ibid.. IV, 90-92.

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218 and it is picked up again in his consideration of repentance when he wonders how soon^ Would highth recal high thoughts and likens the consequent "worse relapse" to a "heavier fall."


persistent use of a recurrent image serves to unify the passage and reveal more suggestively than would otherwise be possible Satan's con­ sciousness of his position. A similar group of images concerning bargaining runs through the soliloquy.

Regretting his revolt in heaven, he asks:

What could be less than to afford him praise, The easiest recompense, and pay him thanks, How duep His rebellion came, he says, because he thought he would in a moment quit The debt of endless gratitude, So burthensome, still paying, still to ow; Forgetful what from him I still receivd, And understood not that a grateful mind By owing owes not, but still pays, at once Indebted aid dischargd; what burden then?**Having considered the possibility of repentance, he concludes that he could not retain this feeling and, therefore, would endure further punishment, as happens to one who makes a bargain in bad faith:

llbid,, IV; 94-95. 2Ibid.. IV, 100-101, 3lbid.. IV, 46-48. 4Ibid., IV, 51-57.

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219 so should I purchase deare Short intermission bought with double smart.^ All these figures show that Satan thinks in terms of payment, the key to his determination to avenge himself on God.

Thus imagery heightens

perception of his character, especially when contrasted with this des­ cription of God: whom hast thou then or what to accuse, But Heav'ns free Love dealt equally to all? One other chain of images deals with warfare, reminiscent of the war in heaven and the sense of conflict which Satan feels.


of his own evil, he says: but other Powers as great Fell not, but stand unshak'n, from within Or from without, to all temptations arm’d.3 Further, he considers the hopelessness of seeking forgiveness for such %

a sin as his, and concludes: For never can true reconcilement grow VShere wounds of deadly hate have peirc'd so deep.** The pattern is continued in his comparison between seeking pardon and making a treaty after battle: This knows ray punisher; therefore as farr From granting hee, as I from begging peace.*

1Ibid.. IV, 101-102. 2Ibid.. IV, 67-68. 3Ibid.. IV, 63-64. Sbid.. IV, 98-99. 5Ibld.. IV, 103-104.

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220 These continued repetitions of imagery in the aaaa terms are moat affec­ tive as devices in the soliloquy! revealing the quality of f-atan's thought and unifying the passage* Just as Satan through consideration of his relationship to God moved, in the soliloquy to the sun, to a restatement of his determina­ tion to avenge himself, so the second soliloquy shove him meeting a need


to strengthen hie ©termination further on sight of his victims, Adam 1 and £ve. The same suet of struggle is revealed, though the revelation is oblique and lass direct. Moving through the garden of Bden, he cornea upon Adam and Sve and at sight of the human couple is struck with admiration of their beauty, mingled with envy and pity.

It is this quality of mixed emotion

which has caused some critics to find in the passage an unevenness of 2 style. But the irregular tone is reflective of the feeling of Satan' as his mood changes.

Characteristically, Uilton lets the reader see the

first man and woman through the eyes of Satan, and the whole passage is another instanoe of the poet's achieving the viewpoint of the character. The expression ”0 Hell" with which the passage opens has been criticized 3 ae of questionable taste, probably because it was understood as a curse, but it is not used in this sense but to show Satan's fooling that only those left behind in hell would appreciate his mingled grief and admira­ tion at the sight.


Hence, ho apostrophises the fallen angels collective-


Sialdook, op. clt., pp. 87-89. ^iiackail, op. cit., p. 196.

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221 ly in this exclamation.

His first feeling is of grief at being re­

placed by those who have been advanced "into our room of bliss"; and, still retaining something of the good quality noted in the previous sol­ iloquy, he soon finis that a sense of wonder and 3.ove almost succeeds the envy for these Creatures of other mould, earth-born perhaps, Not Spirits, yet to heav’nly Spirits bright Little inferior. And it is a recollection of his love of God which provokes his feeling here, God again conceived of in terms of light: so lively shines In them Divine resemblance, and such grace 2 The that form'd them on thir shape hath pourd. From this admiration, Satan moves to another feeling— pity: Ah gentle pair, yee little think how nigh Your change approaches, when all these delights Will vanish and deliver ye to woe, More woe, the more your taste is now of joy.-' Yet here, as he addresses them, his mood changes, for when he considers how poorly the pair 1b protected, he recalls also his old hatred and arouses his pride once more:

Their dwelling is

111 fenc't for Heav’n to keep out such a foe As now is enterd, and, recalling his own state, his self-pity rises to turn him from a further momentary weakening;

•^Paradise Lost. 17, 360-362. 2Ibld.. IV, 363-365. 3Ibid., IV, 366-369.

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222 yet no purpos'd foe To you whom I could pitie thus forlorne Though I unpitied.^ Thus strengthened in his resolve by a reminder of his own state, he turns to an ironic expression of his desire to extend "hospitality" in hell to the human race and, after picturing the possibilities of magni­ ficent entertainment, apologizes for its poor quality by blaming


him who puts loath to this revenge On you who wrong me not for him who wrongd.^ Again he feels a need for explanation of his behavior and, characteristic of one attempting to wrong another, rationalizes by stating that public reason just, Honour and Empire with revenge enlarg'd, By conquering this new World* compel

his behavior, which otherwise he should regret.

Thus it seems

that the passage is uneven deliberately to reveal the shifting moods ,of Satan. There are parallels to the virtue revealed in the sun-soliloquy in Satan'b love and admiration for Adam and Eve because of their divine resemblance and his pity for the innocent victims of his scheme for re­ venge.

But here, after this "momentary assertion of his angelic nature,

much more than in the previous passage, one sees a Satan who is losing

1Ibid.. IV, 372-373, 373-375. 2Ibid.. IV, 386-387. 3Ibid.. IV, 389-391. 4 Hanford, A Milton Handbook» op, cit.» p, 202,

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223 his sense of perspective and who is no longer able to see things in their true light as clearly as before.

Hatred of God outweighs his ad­

miration and recollection of God’s justness in dealing with him.


aside fromthe reference to loving the human beings because oftheir resemblance to God, all others indicate the venom of one punished.


Adam and Eve do not enjoy hell as much as Eden, yet they should accept it as "your Makers work."

(It is noteworthy, too, that Satan says your

not our, an indication that already he is again questioning whether God created the angels.) wrongd."

And Satan injures them as revenge on "him who

Less decided than in the earlier books, Satan yet shows the

same dominant characteristic, pride, as reflected in his description of himself as "such a foe," and in his Machiavellian understanding of what he offers Adam and Eve: league with you I seek, And mutual amitie so straight, so close, That I with you must dwell, or you with me Henceforth; my dwelling haply may not please Like this fair Paradise, your sense, yet such Accept your Makers work; he gave it ju s , Which I as freely give; Hell shall unfold, To entertain you two, her widest Gates, And send forth all her Kings; there will be room, Not like these narrow limits, to receive Your numerous offspring Satan's use of irony here for the first time in his soliloquies is inter­ esting, for its conscious use accompanies his gradual movement toward rejection of the knowledge, expressed in the soliloquy to the sun, that God is good, and toward embracing beliefs better suited to his own ends in seeking to destroy good.

Yet that his enjoyment here is still half

^Paradise Lost. IV, 375-385.

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224 forced is reflected in the following words: innocence/llelt, as I doe. . . . "

"Should I at your harmless

It is only after this time when he

turns to rationalization of his attack on man that he seems finally re­ solved once more in his attitude toward man, and his purpose is again fixed. Images of warfare and treaties are continued in the soliloquy also.

Adam and Eve's happiness is ill secur'd Long to continue, and this high seat your Heav'n 111 fenc't for Heaven to keep out such a foe As now is enterd.^

The conquest, however, might result in a treaty of friendship: league with you I seek, And mutual amitie so streight, so close, That I with you must dwell, or you with me Henceforth. ^ And man himself,if he should yield, would receive royal entertainment such

as is given to an ally: Hell shall unfold To entertain you two, her widest Gates And send forth all her Kings.3

The image is concluded with Satan's justification of the war: yet public reason just, Honour and Empire with revenge enlarg'd, By conquering this new World, compels me now To do what else though damnd I should abhorre.^

1Ibid., IV, 370-373. 2Ibld.. IV, 375-378. 3Ibid.. IV, 381-383. 4Ibid.. IV, 389-392.

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225 These recurrent figures of warfare show a trend of thought repeating itself in the speeches of Satan and emphasize one side of his character* The soliloquy also is useful for transitional purposes.

As in

the previous speech of Satan, his consciousness of loss is reflected in imagery so that the whole of his conflict and forced flight from heaven is suggested, this time in terms of the place one occupies.

Man is

raised into "our room of bliss," Paradise is "this high seat your Heav'n," and hell, which he opens to mankind, is "my dwelling," which shall un­ fold its "widest gates."

Thus, the emphasis on the place one occupies

suggests the high estate from which Satan has fallen, and the contrasts between heaven, earth, and hell which are part of the large system of contrasts Milton uses throughout the poem.

Similarly, the soliloquy

serves another transitional function, limiting the range of Satan's ac­ tivity to man, as the archangel adjusts his attitude toward the new cre­ ation until he determines to bring about the ruin of the innocent.


this way, he takes another step in preparation for the temptation-scene itself, the climax toward which the action of Books IV and IX tends. The soliloquy has relations to theme as well as plot, for it shows again Milton's concept that evil is self-destructive.


having overcome his scruples against making further assaults on God through arguing that no other course was open to him, now finds that he must make further adjustments of viewpoint to enable him to corrupt man. Gradually, what is admirable in Satan is yielding to perversion through 1 his desire for vengeance.

^Grant McColley, in Paradise Lost: An Account of Its Growth. . ., p. 171, has called attention to a likeness between this soliloquy and one of Moses Bar Cepha in his work on the fall of man.

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226 By the time Satan sees Adam and Eve again, his attitude toward 1 man as his enemy is fixed, and in his third soliloquy the cynicism, found in such Renaissance heroes as Edmund, Richard III, and Faustus is more apparent.

Opening with an exclamation of jealousy at the sight of

Adam and Eve making love, the speech moves from a contrast of the love of man with the fierce unsatiated desire which torments Satan in hell to Satan's calm recollection of his purpose.

His passion cools as he pon­

ders the conversation of Adam and Eve about the forbidden tree and de­ termines what use he can make of this information.

What follows is his

calculated and ironic rehearsal of the arguments which he will later use to tempt man.

The passage has been interpreted as evidence of Satan's 2 coming to believe his own lies and certainly much of it s ring of sincer­ ity comes from a sense of his genuine and deeply felt hatred of God not found in the sun-soliloquy.

This is combined with his use of motives

which are effective because already experienced by Satan.

It seems, how­

ever, an exaggeration to say that Satan believed God's command envious, invented with designs To keep them low whom knowledge might exalt Equal with Gods.-* In fact, it denies Satan a personal viewpoint at all.

If he really be­

lieved the statement true, he certainly would not consider persuading man to eat the fruit as a weans of avenging himself against God.


^Paradise Lost. IV, 505-535.


Musgrove, op. cit.

^Paradise Lost. IV, 521-525.

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227 mould probably eat the fruit himself.

Equally, he cannot seriously ques­

tion that eating will result in death, for, after planning the arguments he will use on man, he concludes: They taste and die:

what likelier can ensue.^

Thus the whole passag^is a skillful exposition of a clever and sinister personage plotting the downfall of an adversary.

It closes with a curious

attempt at motivating a departure, a device which is not followed up in the course of the poem.

Satan announces that, before tempting man, he

will search through the garden for some heavenly spirit from whom he nay gain information, as he did earlier from Uriel.

The fact that motiva­

tion is used at all when not needed is unusual, and that the angel he leaves to hunt is never found and no sequel occurs as a result of this announced search makes it even more peculiar.

Following this statement

of his reason for leaving, there are three lines which close the sjteech much in the manner of a dramatic exit: Live while ye may, let happie pair; enjoy, till I return, Short pleasures, for long woes are to succeed.3 There is a decided change in Satan's character in this passage, though it is a change which has been carefully prepared for.

Previously, Satan

has been

his revolt against Godand

the victim of remorse

has overcome

this feeling with

and guilt for

a determination to seek revenge since

1Ibid.. IV, 527. 2Ibid.. IV, 515-520, 522-526. 3Ibid.. IV, 533-535.

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228 pardon is unattainable, and he has, after that, quieted his conscience about victimizing Adam and Eve by pleading public necessity.

Here he

appears for the first time as almost wholly vicious, only his determi­ nation remaining.

There is no hint of pity for Adam and Eve since any

tendency to such feeling has been stilled by his overwhelming envy, and there is no longer any sense of remorse.

He obviously enjoys the arguments

which are called "0 fair foundation on which to build/ Thir ruin."1 There are, of course, relations to the plot in this development of Satan's character.

Before he could actually try to corrupt Adam and

Eve, he must first be without pity for them and believe wholly in his effort if he is to succeed.

And this speech precedes his first abortive

attempt, the presentation in a dream of suggestions later related by Eve to Adam which might have led to her fall— praise of her beauty, the sight of the forbidden tree even fairer than it actually appeared by day,* an angel talking of the virtues of the tree and suggesting that God's com­ mand resulted from envy, his eating the fruit and persuading Eve to eat so that she might fly with him in exaltation,2 When Satan next speaks in soliloquy, it is in Book IX in the justly famous speech which opens with an address to the earth and ends with his rtimbruting"himself in the snake in order to delude Eve.

On leav­

ing Eden when thrust forth after an encounter with Gabriel, he travelled 1Ibid.. IV, 521-522. 2Ibid., V, 28-93. 3Ibid.. IX, 99-178.

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229 seven times around the globe; and just before his speech he has explored the earth itself "with narrow search."

It is the admiration thus aroused

for the newly created world which first causes him to break silence.


dressing the earth in apostrophe he compares it to heaven, to which, he says, it is perhaps superior, representing an improvement over heaven, which was created earlier; at least it is a "terrestrial Heav'n," whose relation to the other stars, which light it, is like the relation of God in heaven to all things, though God "extends to all" whereas earth only "receiv’st from all those Orbs."

Just as the virtue of all things appears

in uod rather than in them, so the virtue of all the stars above appears on earth which is Productive in Herb, Plant, and nobler birth Of creatures animate with gradual life Of Growth, Sense, Reason, all sumai*d up in fen,l This opening, with its references to vast space which Milton uses frequently in describing the structure of the universe, is most effective in a number of functions, among others placing the setting clearly on earth and establishing once more the atmosphere of the Garden. Something can be made of its relation to the soliloquy to the sun in the contrast between the brightness of sunlight there and the half-light of earth mood.

under the stars atnight,as paralleled by the change in Satan* s For here Satan nolonger

ledges remorse for what he has done.

recognizes openly his guilt and acknow­ Again, as in the last soliloquy in

Book IV, he i3 resolute in his hatred both of God and man, thus maintain­ ing consistency in his downward course— and also preparing M m again for

1Ibld.. IX, 111-113.

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230 the second and final temptation on man.

But the fallen angel's love of

beauty is replaced by torment, as he contrasts the variety of the earth with his inability to find "place or refuge" in it.

In accordance with

his resolution at the and of the soliloquy to the sun, he finds that pleasures merely increase his pain.

He cannot, he recalls, expect to

find peace either on earth or in heaven "unless by maistring Heav'n's Supreme"; nor can he hope to be less miserable but merely to destroy others: For only in destroying I find ease To my relentless thoughts,! he cries in words reminiscent of an earlier speech.

Again he shows self-

knowledge, as he has before, but, when he moves to consideration of suc­ cess

in his attempt to corrupt man, which will, he knows, be attended by

destruction for the world, he is animated by a peculiarly personalview­ point, typical of Miltonic characterization and of his pride whidh causes him to distort situations to his own ends: To mee shall be the glory sole among The infernal powers, in one day to have marr'd What he Almighty styl'd, six Nights and Days Continu'd making, and who knows how long Before had been contriving, though perhaps Not longer than since I in one Night freed From servitude inglorious well nigh half Th' Angelic Name, and thinner left the throng Of his adorers: hee to be avenged, And to repair his numbers thus impair'd Whether such virtue spent of old now fail'd More Angels to Create, if they at least Are his Created, or to spite us more, Determin'd to advance into our room A Creature form'd of Earth, and him endow,

1Ibid.. IX, 129-130; I, 160.

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231 Exalted from so base original, With heavenly spoils, our spoils. Here at last Satan has achieved inwardly the attitude which outwardly he showed to the fallen angels in hell.

There is a difference, however.

Here he no longer feels responsible for the fate of his followers but takes credit for "freeing" not one-third, as formerly stated, but onehalf of the group. After inner struggle which has lasted through most of his stay on earth, he has now come to the point of being able to express to him­ self as truth the views which he rejected in the soliloquy to the sun but which have now grown to be a part of him.

God is no longer good,

merely "Almighty styled," does not create in an instant but compared to Satan's power in destruction is slow and plodding, and perhaps did not even create the angels at all.

The creation of man— the only creation

of God which Satan has seen— was, he is now convinced, motivated»by a desire for revenge— to replace the rebellious angels with a creature of inferior material.

Further, as a final indignity, God has, Satan says,

forced the angels to minister to this base creation.

Here in a few lines

Milton has epitomized Satan's primary flaw— pride— and has depicted the union in Satan of hatred for God and man which precedes the final temp­ tation.

In this passage, also, the use of irony is interesting.


this point, Satan has made use of conscious irony, as in his statement to Adam and Eve that he seeks league with them and in his contrived re-

2 hearsal of the speech with which he plans to tempt Eve.

Use of con-

1Ibid.. IX, 135-151. 2Ibid.. IV, 375-385; 515-520.

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232 scious irony of this kind always implies that the speaker is aware of the contradictions between what he says and what he means.

Here, how­

ever, the irony becomes unconscious and indicates a contradiction under­ stood and appreciated by the reader and by Milton but not by Satan, thus Illustrating in another way the subtlety of which Milton was capable in depicting character. Reminded of his need to evade the angelic watch, Satan "wrapt in mist of midnight vapour" seeks further for a serpent, the aMmaT he has chosen as "fit vessel" in whom to hide his "dark suggestions."


Milton moves into a disguise soliloquy, not, as conventionally, to ex­ plain the change to the reader, but to display Satan* s character more fully in his consciousness of degradation and the reader’s doubled under­ standing of thi3 symbolism.

As Satan considers this shift, his self-

pity and pride combine to protest it in imagery which shows aptly his consciousness of the height and depth of his experience; 0 foul descentI that I who erst contended With Gods to sit the highest, am now constrain’d Into a Beast, and mixt with bestial slime This essence to incarnate and imbrute That to the highth of Deity aspir'd; But what will not Ambition and Revenge Descend to? who aspires must down as low As high he soar'd, obnoxious, first or last To basest things,^ (In the use of the ward incarnate lies a suggested comparison between Christ's later incarnation with its glorious result and Satan's with its 2 inglorious one.) His revulsion brings Satan once again to self-knowledge, 1Ibid.. IX, 16>171. ^William Empson. English Pastoral Poetry (New York! 1938), P. 165. ----------------


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233 for he perceives now that Revenge, at first though sweet, Bitter ere long back on itself recoils;1 but this recognition, again phrased like a Senecan sententia. brings no hesitation.

Since he has found that he cannot conquer Grod, he will risk

further torment in an effort to overwhelm this new Favorite Of Heav'n, this Man of Clay, Son of Despite Whom us the more to spite his Maker rais’d From dust: 3pite then with spite is best repaid.2 Here references to "place" in imagery again serve an important purpose. Having viewed "Terrestrial Heav’n” and heaven itself, Satan finds that he wishes to live in neither, in fact, cannot find on earth "place or refuge."

And the place he does find for himself is one far worse— he is

"constrain'd into a Beast." Mackail has described the form of this passage as illustrative "within the bounds of his fully developed style" of Milton's "middle or 3 culminating manner," chronologically speaking. This style as used in Satan's speech is called an example of a quality for which he seldom or never gets the full credit due to him, a dramatic sense of extreme delicacy. With him, as with Sophocles, this quality is so fine that it may easily elude observation, , , . The construction is at every point or­ ganic, . . . The manner, diction, and metrical quality . . . are . . . adapted with precise fitness to the circumstances. 4-

1Ibid.. IX, 171-172. 2Ibid.. IX, 175-178. 3 Mackail, op. clt., pp. 173-175.




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23h Certainly the passage has nothing of the jerky quality of the soliloquy when Satan first sees Adam and Eve, or of the shifting feel of the argu­ mentative soliloquy to the sun, equally powerful in its way, or of the contrived, studied eloquence of Satan’s rehearsal for tempting Eve.


division of thought, fully charged though it is, is almost poured forth in smooth rhythm and the movement from one portion to another— praise of the earth, its effect on Satan with his summation of his work as a force of destruction, his recollection of God's motive for creation, and his assuming the fora of a serpent— is hardly perceptible, so carefully are the transitions in thought and verse worked out.

It gives the effect of

a powerful mind so sure of its intent that the closely woven thought pours forth without effort. It is noteworthy that here, for the second time, Milton has made use of a characterizing soliloquy as a structural devicej for, like the %

soliloquy to the sun, this one addressed to the earth not only furthers the characterization of Satan but recalls again the beauty of the vast universe against which the drama of the fall is played and serves to echo much of the previous action.

Thus, the soliloquy continues the

introduction of Book IX, already begun in the narrative material preced­ ing the speech, establishes the setting of the particular book at the same time that it recalls the glory of heaven, and, in Satan's reflection?, reminds the reader of the scenes in hell.

Again Milton's often praised

architectonic power is revealed by his employing a soliloquy as a struc­ tural element in the whole poem as well as a means of characterizing Satan.

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235 Satan1s^last soliloquy,1 except for the feigned soliloquy al­ ready mentioned,

occurs just before the temptation of Eve, when the 3 sight of "This Flow«ry Plat" and of Eve herself has made him forget his

fierce purpose and has returned him, momentarily, to a state of goodness; but it is significant that, this time, Satan is described thus; That space the Evil one abstracted stood From his own evil, and for a time remain'd Stupidly good, of enmity disarm’d, Of guile, of hate, of envy, of revenge.^ That is, Satan has reached the point that any hint of goodness means that he is drawn from his own nature, now wholly evil, so that being good is merely being without intelligence— or not being good at all. Such goodness is not an active virtue at all. And this again fits the situation. For Satan’s goodness cannot last, and Satan cannot be stupidly anything. As soon as the shock wears off, his negative goodness will collapse. Even the sharp revulsion to intense evil is already contained in the phrase "stupidly good."5 It is his return to his normal state which is the cause of Satan's speech.

Addressing his thoughts, he accuses them of causing him to for­

get his purpose in giving him brief release from internal torment.


in an apostrophe reminiscent of the Homeric address to the soul, signi­ ficantly changed, for Satan, to "thoughts," Satan shows something of the

1Ibid.. IX, 473-493. 2Ibid.. IX, 679-683. 3Ibid.. IX, 456. 4Ibid.. IX, 463-466. e Cleanth Brooks, "Milton and the New Criticism," Sewanee Review, -----------LIX (1951), 1-22.

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236 Homeric consciousness of duality in asking: Thoughts, whither have jjre led me, with what sweet Compulsion thus transported to forget What hither brought u s r Here, too, he repeats a figure found in each of the soliloquies after the address to the sun— a contrast of woe and pleasure in which pleasure, as good, is compared to food, and woe to the desire for it, or to indi­ gestible food.

Already Satan has spoken of delivering Adam and Eve to

woe: More woe, the more your taste is now of joy, has spoken of human love as "tne happier Eden," in which Adam and Eve shall enjoy thir fill Of hLiss on bliss while his "fierce desire," Still unfulfill’d with pain of longing pines, and has found that %

Revenge, at first though sweet Bitter ere long back on itself recoils.^ In this speech, the figure is picked up again as Satan con­ trasts with actuality his momentary concern with beauty.

He must not

forget what brought him there: bate, not love, nor hope Of Paradise for Hell, hope here to taste Of pleasure, but all pleasure to destroy.3

1Paradise Lost. IX, 473-474. 2Ibid.t IV, 369; IV, 507; IV, 509; IV, 511; IX, 171-172. 3Ibld.. IX, 475-477.

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237 Again, repeating a central idea of his apostrophe to the earth, he em­ phasizes the one happiness left to him— to destroy. Thus recalled to his customary state and to his determination, Satan now reminds himself that he should not pass by "occasion which now smiles,” an opportunity to approach Eve alone, since Adam is not at hand. Here he turns to a discussion of Adam and shews another view of Adam’s character. Earlier he had admired the human pair as almost pitiable and lovable because of their divine resemblance, but later had scorned Adam as ”this new Favorite of Heav«n, this Man of Clay, Son of Here, evaluating him as an adversary, he finds in Adam much to admire. He is more intelligent than Eve, and stronger of courage hautie, and of Hmh Heroic built, though of terrestrial mould, Foe not informidable, exempt from wound, I not,2 a comment which reminds him of his own inferior state as compared to what he was in heaven.

Eve, on the other hand, is the preferable victim,

since being "divinely fair, fit Love for Gods,"

her only terror lies in

love and beauty, a terror overcome when approached by stronger hate, strengthened further by pretense of love for her.

Thus having determined

on his particular approach to the woman, Satan moves on to the tempta­ tion scene, the climax of Paradise Lost. Having been turned aside into

1Ibid.. IX, 175-176.


Ibid.. IX, 483-486,

3Ibld.. IX, 489.

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238 a brief release from pain at first sight of Eve, he now takes The way which to her ruin now I tend.^ The soliloquies, then, do show Satan in the process of degenera­ tion, a character whose thoughts never let the reader forget that he is one of the fallen angels.


it is the association of evil with elements of heroic virtue that makes him, in his own essence, a tragic and formidable figure.2 Moving from his recognition of his own evil and guilt in the soliloquy to the sun, he gradually comes first to a renewed hatred of God and then of man until he reaches the point that the good in him can be only an external quality, a goodness which separates him from his own nature. Throughout, only the qualities of pride, defiance, and determination re­ main with him.

It is as a study of the perversion of virtue that the

soliloquies are most interesting.

Here is depicted step by step his

movement from recognition of truth to complete belief in his own false %

conception, a masterly portrayal of character by means of Aristotelian dianoia. In this capacity they reveal a relation to theme as well, al­ though Milton’s practice is not allegorical: Milton conveys his lessons directly through the speeches of his characters and his comments, TOiat happens illustrates the uni­ versal truths which he proclaims and may be treated as something complete in itself.3

1Ibid.. IX, 493. 2 G. Rostrevor Hamilton, Hero or Fool? A Study of Milton’s Satan (London: George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., 1944), p. 17. 3 Bowra, From Virgil to Milton, op. cit.. p. 213.

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239 Thus, the development of Satan's character, as revealed in his soliloquies, is a most powerful illustration of the poet's repeated idea that evil bears within it the seeds of its own destruction.

A further thematic re­

lation is, of course, in the struggle of good and evil, which must be of vast proportions for the poem to be effective; certainly the speeches of Satan enrich this concept. The soliloquies also have transitional uses, aiding in estab­ lishing the general setting of the poem through their imagery referring to the vast universe and to light and darkness, and revealing the rela­ tion between Satan's state of mind and the plot— his gradual movement from recognition of God's justness to accusations of spite, a motive attributed to the Creator through considering his personal incentives; the change from momentary wonder at the beauty of man to hatred aMi envy because of what man represents to him; the hardening of his will before he is able to make the two attempts to corrupt man. From this discussion of the soliloquies in Paradise Lost, it should be evident how artistically Milton has used the device for fur­ thering characterization, plot, and theme.

Occurring as they do in

those books which show the temptation and fall of man and the subsequent remorse and horror at the consequences, they point up dramatically the human story which is the center of interest in the whole poem.


ely adjusted to speaker and occasion, they reveal Satan's gradual harden­ ing of will to destroy the innocence of mankind and his accompanying de­ generation, and the quite human mixture of good and evil in Adam and Eve.

They show, in the human characters, how nicely Milton has adapted

Adam's and Eve's speeches to their unfallen state in the monologues just

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240 before they sin.

Here Milton had the problem of showing unfallen

people with some qualities which would permit their fall, and, because of their innocence, he has Eve sin because she is deceived and Adam through excess of a good quality, human love.

At the same time, he

brings to fruition in their characters weaknesses already indicated— in Eve vanity and pride and wilfulness, in Adam excessive fondness for Eve, who is, after all, his subordinate in the order of the universe. Their horror at their sin is conveyed through the speech of Adam, in a mixture of remorse and resentment characteristically human yet suggestive of the "sense of tremendous waste," . . . of power and goodness brought to ruin through the seeming accident of fatal excess in what might have been a best endowment. . . .1 His painful recognition of his own responsibility is further heightened as he exclaims at the sight of the universal suffering which it has oc­ casioned, just as Eve's tortured outcry at learning of the penalty of %

exile from Eden shows further tragic suffering.

Thus, in soliloquy,

Milton traces the feeling and thought of the three principal characters from the beginning of the temptation through the fall and its consequen­ ces. It is for these reasons that the writer believes Milton sur­ passed the epic soliloquy previous to his time.

His emphasis is on

character, the soliloquies are used primarily to reveal the reasons and motives for action, and with the exception of the soliloquy of Eve when

^Hanford, "The Dramatic Element in Paradise Lost." op. cit,, p. 185*

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241 she learns of the exile from Eden, they do not have the rhetorical qualities producing that sense of insincerity often found in Ovid and Seneca and occasionally in Vergil.

iii One might expect to find unusually fine examples of the solilo­ quy in Paradise Regained, with its extended dialogue and its concern with distrust of action and with faith in the power of the mind properly gov­ erned to bring about the "paradise within" promised to Adam. is not the case.

But this

In spite of the fact that the poem shows Christ gaining

"final dominion over his mind" and has a "mood of inwardness that pervades the poem,"

there are only three soliloquies, and not one of these repre­

sents Milton’s best achievement.

All three in a sense preface the main

action of the poem. As already indicated, Satan here is given no soliloquies, ad­ dressing his words to the council of devils when he speaks,


being divine, feels no real sense of inner conflict and reveals none in his soliloquies.

Mary, who speaks briefly, shows something of the feel­

ing and thought that usually appear in the Miltonic soliloquy, but her position in the action is decidedly subordinate, 2

Christ’s first soliloquy, reflective of the Euripidean prologue and spoken just as he enters the wilderness, will serve as an example. Guided by the spirit of God, he is led into the desert, so absorbed by 1 E. M. W. Tillyard, op. cit.. pp. 302, 316. ^Paradise Regained. I, 196-293.

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242 the thoughts swarming within him that he hardly realizes his surroundings. Thus adequately motivated as "holy Meditations," the speech opens with Christ's consideration of the difference between what others think will be his mission on earth and his own inclination.

To trace his own ideas

about his work, he reviews his life as he remembers it: When I was yet a child, no childish play To me was pleasing; all mind was set Serious to learn and know, and thence to do, What might be publick good; myself I thought Born to that end, born to promote all truth, All righteous things.^


The passage has repeatedly been cited as evidence of autobiographical 2 influence in the poem, reflecting Milton's own childhood, but it need not seem, I believe, when transmitted into Jesus’s experience, . . , the worse sort of cant. . .


for it represents equally well Christ’s growing recognition of a divine­ ly appointed mission, one of several early hints he recalls.

He then

tells of his experience in the temple during the Passover' and turns to his early ambitions to be the savior of man in the way expected by the Jews before his coining: yet this not all To which my spirit aspir’d, Victorious deeds Flamed in my heart, heroic acts, one while To rescue Israel from the Roman yoke, Then to subdue and quell o’er all the earth

1Ibid., I, 201-206. 2Tillyard, op. cit.. p. 306; Hanford, John Milton. Englishman, op. cit.. p. 202; Saurat, op. cit., p. 234. %aurat, op. cit.. p. 234.

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243 Brute violence and proud Tyrannick pow'r, Till truth were freed, and equity restor'd: Yet held it, more humane, more heavenly first By winning words to conquer willing hearts, And make perswasion do the work of fearj At least to try, and teach the erring Soul Not wilfully misdoing, but unware Misled; the stubborn only to subdue. Here Milton uses metaphors suggestive of combat, recurrent as symbol of the inward and spiritual conflict in the wilderness as well as reflective of the actual warfare of Paradise Lost and thus organic in the "stupen­ dous conception that binds Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained together."2 The thought of the passage shows Christ's early consideration of action as the means to attain his kingdom and his rejection of worldly power. Thus, the struggle is already made external before the opening of the temptation in Paradise Regained, and the end of Satan's efforts is fore­ shadowed. At this point, Milton makes use of a device rare in soliloquy, the insertion of the actual words of another as a means of varying the %

soliloquy itself.

Christ here recalls the words of his mother, who,

having perceived his "growing thoughts," has spoken to him, relating his divine origin and the facts concerning his birth which would be beyond the recollection of Christ, who is throughout shown as gradually coming to a knowledge of his origin and his mission.

Urging him to

"nourish" his thoughts

^Paradise Regained. I, 214-226.


Elizabeth Marie Pope, Paradise Regained: The Tradition and the Poem (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1947), p. 120.

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244 and let them soar To what highth sacred vertue and true worth Can raise them, thought above example high, she reveals the circumstances surrounding his birth— the prediction by God's messenger, the visit of the shepherds and wise men to the manger,

1 the prophecies of Simeon and Anna. On hearing these things, Christ recalls, he read the prophets and discovered that he was the Messiah.

Undismayed by the realization

that he must suffer and die to redeem mankind, he waited a sign that the tims was at hand for his work.

This came when, baptized by John

the Baptist, he saw the Spirit descend on him in the form of a dove and heard God's pronouncement, "the sum of all," that Christ was his son. Then, knowing the time was "full," he followed divine guidance into the 2 wilderness, to what purpose he does not know. The soliloquy performs a number of functions, chiefly exposi­ tory:

it establishes the background of Christ, shows his attitude toward

his work before the temptation, and explains his presence in the wilder­ ness as part of God's plan for him.

To characterization it adds certain

points which were part of the tradition which Milton followed in portray­ ing Christ.

He is regarded as a man, not divinity, undergoing trial;

and his soliloquy clearly establishes this interpretation by showing him as lacking foreknowledge of the purpose for which he has come to the wilderness, and, indeed, coming only because "some strong motion" impels

1Paradise Regained. I, 227; I, 230; I, 230-233. 2Ibid.. I, 283-287.

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245 him.

In this lack of previous knowledge, Milton went further than the

majority of theologians; but his treatment is more satisfactory as it avoids a suggestion that he suffered less than man and enables Milton

1 to show fully the Son's complete trust in God,

In so portraying Christ,

Milton points out through Christ's behavior during the temptation the way in which the human soul can be regenerated and thus prepares for the development of the theme of the poem.

The whole passage conforms to one

of the three ways in which Christ is viewed in the poem, as the selfdisciplined master of hunger and passion, illustrating "the principle 2 of temperance, the central pattern in the personality of Jesus." The soliloquy, as indicated, does show that Christ knows that he is the Messiah and that he has a mission to perform in saving mankind.

He does

not realize that his trip to the desert is to have a part in his redemp­ tive work.

One further fact is communicated in the meditation:


has already considered the type of ministry he will have and has rejected the heroic deeds which once appealed to him.

Thus, his attitude toward

the temptations is already established; and whatever struggle might have arisen a3 a result of this feeling is eliminated, as it would have to be in portraying divinity, however much emphasis is placed on Christ as man in Paradise Regained. Perhaps it is this absence of conflict which makes the soliloquy lack force; perhaps it is the fact that, in considering Christ as the

^Pope, op. cit.. p. 24. ^Don M. Wolfe, "The Role of Milton's Christ," Sewanee Review, LI (1943), 456-475.

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246 prime example of reason controlling passion, as well as a completely ex­ emplary hero, Milton was deprived of any emotional basis for the solilo­ quy,

The fact that Christ speaks prevents any rapturous feeling which

might arise in another speaker recounting the birth and early life of Jesus,

As a result, the reader has the impression that the soliloquy

exists almost solely for expository purposes, and the insertion of Mary's account of her son’s earlier life which he would not be able to recall, since depicted as man, does nothing to dispel this idea, though it does vary what otherwise might be a monotonously long passage,

1 Christ's next— and last— soliloquy that the temptation occurs to him as man.

continues the interpretation

At the end of his forty days

in the wilderness, he has been tempted once by Satan in "gray dissimula2 tion" when the devil asked him to turn the stones into bread, thus try­ ing Jesus' faith in God and in himself as the Son of God,

As a further

indication that it is in his human nature that he undergoes temptation, Christ at this point feels hunger and questions himself concerning his 3 experience, asking: "Where will this end?" That the fast may not seem any indication of his divinity, Milton has Christ say: that Fast To Vertue I impute not, or count part Of what I suffer here; If Mature need not, Or God support Nature without repast Though needing, what praise is it to endure?^

^Paradise Regained. II, 245-259. 2Ibid.. I, 498. 3Ibid., II, 245. W


II» 247-251.

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247 The Son's failure here to attribute his fast to virtue is in keeping with Calvin's statement that, if Christ had turned the stones into bread, his sin would not have been satisfaction of hunger but a lack of trust which 1 made the satisfaction possible. The soliloquy also shows again what Christ had already demonstrated in his first temptation— Christ's perfect faith in God's willingness to provide for him: Yet God Can satisfie that need some other way, Though hunger still remain: so it remain Without this bodies wasting, I content me And from the sting of Famine fear no harm.2 It closes with a further affirmation of the Son's faith, this time phrased in terms of right reason as good food, a bit of imagery often used in Paradise Lost in the same connection: Nor mind it, fed with better thoughts that feed Kee hungring more to do my Fathers will,3 As the information conveyed by the soliloqjuy was already ade­ quately expressed in the first temptation itself, the speech no longer can be said to serve an expository purpose; neither does it add percep­ tibly to the characterization of Christ.

Presumably its chief purpose

is one related to the action— to show that Christ still feels hunger and that his next temptation will be even more difficult for him as a result of this craving.

Thus Milton increases suspense, and the inser­

tion of the speech itself, which delays the main temptation of the poem, serves a similar purpose.

It also marks the change from the council of

1Pope, op. cit.. p. 63. 2Paradlse Regained. II, 253-257.

3Ibid., II, 258-259.

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248 fallen angels to the primary setting of the poem, the dim wilderness from which Milton transports the reader to the gorgeous vision called forth by Satan.

In general, then, the soliloquy may be said no longer

to be used chiefly for characterization but for purposes of the action. It serves as a means of varying the design and of furthering other ends than character portrayal.

1 The third soliloquy in the poem is that of Mary, who mourns because her son has disappeared after being baptized.

Much more skill­

fully handled than the other two, it cannot really be said to serve much purpose in characterizing Mary, who appears only this one time in the poem.

Y/hat it does is to focus attention on Christ's character from the

view of another person, thus shifting to a different angle, from the worries and prayers of Christ's followers, which precede her speech, to those of his mother.

It also shows her consciousness of the divinity of

Jesus, a necessary viewpoint since the chief emphasis in the poem is on Christ as man.

A further effect of the s oliloquy is again to prolong

the period between the first and second temptation and thus increase sus­ pense concerning the climax-vision.

At the same time, it accomplishes

an effect of a change of atmosphere: The style is subdued as in the opening of the poem, but the effect is that of common day, quite different from the desert dimness.^ The subject matter of the soliloquy is an expression of Mary's

1Ibid.. II, 66-104. 2Tillyard, op. cit.. p. 325.

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249 consciousness of the high honor she has received, an awareness temporar­ ily overshadowed by the realization of her being to sorrows . . . no less advanc't And fears as eminent, above the lot Of other women, by the birth I bore. She recalls earlier trials, the birth in the stable and the flight to Egypt during Herod's reign, as tokens of what is to come.

Thinking of

the news she has received that John the Baptist has recognized Jesus as the Son of God, she remembers the prophecy of Simeon of trouble: That to the fall and rising he should be Of many in Israel, and to a sign Spoken against, that through my very Soul A sword shall pierce. Her thought reaches a climax as she says: This my favour'd lot, My Exaltation to Afflictions high. At thispoint, she recovers faith and concludes that, since she lost her child at the age of twelve and found him

in the temple,she has

realized that He could not lose himself, 1 and she determines to wait in patience. These, then, are the soliloquies of



useful structurally and thematically than for characterization.



they do not appear at the most significant moments in the action probably contributes to their relative ineffectiveness as compared with those of Paradise Lost, which occur at moments of crisis when the character is tested and developments are most likely to occur and when relations to

Paradise Regained. II, 69-71; 88-91; 91-92; 98.

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250 plot are, therefore, vital. Perhaps it is the aim of the poem itself which precludes effec­ tive soliloquy.

Tillyard, who has made the most satisfactory analysis

of the poem, says that it is not an epic and, further, is rather undramatic, as there is no action, the characters, Satan excepted, do not live, and there is the smallest relation to normal life. . . . The bulk of the poem consists of speeches suggesting an analogy to drama; but the speeches are void of dramatic interest. The issue of what little action takes place is a foregone conclu­ sion. 1 The only like forms which Tillyard cites are Book II of the Faerie Queene. Malory1s account of the quest for the grail, and the morality plays, all of which are highly allegorical,

oven the setting

stands for the loneliness of the individual mind, cut off from the experiences of every day and from the support of its fellows in its struggle for self-mastery, while the dream-like and artificial brilliance of the spectacles that tempt the mind expresses at once the glamour of worldly success and its essen­ tial insubstantiality, . . Thus, the fact that the whole poem is representative of Christ's inner struggle may have prevented any sense of conflict in the individual soli­ loquies throughout.

iv In Samson Agonistes. a drama concerned with Samson's recovery of God's lost favor, it is Samson's spiritual development which is cen­ tral to the action, as his gradual acceptance of divine will and discov­ ery of God's purpose are necessary conditions to the performance of the



cit., pp. 316-317.

2Ibld.. p. 319.

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251 catastrophe, which is at once a tragedy and a victory.

In a drama where

spiritual state is so important, it is not surprising to find occasional rich and satisfying uses of the soliloquy.

The fact that its hero is a

human being whose relations to life are similar to ours makes possible the strongly emotional soliloquies which could occur effectively even in Paradise Lost only after the fall of Adam and Eve or in Satan, already fallen at the opening of the epic.

But, as in the Greek drama, the

presence of the chorus proved a handicap to the free use of soliloquies; for this reason, Milton, like the three Greek tragic writers, had to find some sort of substitute for the customary soliloquy or abandon it.


followed the practice of Sophocles and Euripides by inserting into the midst of dialogue soliloquies whose content shows clearly that they are not addressed to the other character present but are talks to oneself in which the presence of others is forgotten; like Sophocles, too, he used this device sparingly, conscious of the difficulty of having such speeches in the presence of the chorus. 1 In all, there are three soliloquies