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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.66, No.4, 721 ~ 744, 2020
Milton’s God of Education: Understanding Providence, Free Will, and Education in Paradise Lost
Yehrim Han
This paper investigates Milton’s treatment of the inscrutable relation between divine predestination and human free will in Paradise Lost. I argue that Milton dramatizes the operation of God’s providence as a middle way between silent contemplation and active intervention in the form of divine education. Accordingly, this paper examines the two kinds of education that Adam and Eve receive and seeks to contextualize their interactions via the humanist notion of education. Two angels, Raphael and Michael instruct Adam respectively. Before the Fall that happens in Book 9, Raphael renders visual education as Adam’s first teacher from Book 5 to Book 8. He advises Adam to be aware of Satan; shows images of war between angels and of God’s first Creation; and provides answers concerning celestial motion. After the Fall, Michael disciplines Adam in Books 11-12 by telling him what will happen in the future, which culminates in Adam’s recovery of Reason. Although Eve is excluded from these courses of education, she also shows a sense of awakening in the last Book of PL. Contending Eve’s Fancy as a site for her education, this paper understands Fancy as open to all possible operations of human free will: it is vulnerable to Satan’s infiltration, but also receptive to divine education enabling Eve to ultimately envisage the post-lapsarian second creation. The theme of education examined through Adam’s recovered Reason and Eve’s Fancy succeeds the early modern humanist notion of education advocated in Philip Sidney’s The Defense of Poesy.
Key Words
Free Will, Reason, Fancy, Humanism, Education
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