On Chance in Milton

[ETA: THIS IS POSTED HERE BY MISTAKE–ACTUALLY NOTES TO SELF FROM THE DISSERTATION. BUT I’M LEAVING IT HERE BECAUSE TRANSPARENCY. AND SHAME.]

From Comus–the elder brother says the following to the younger one:

“against the threats

of malice or of sorcery, or that power

Which erring men call Chance, this I hold firm,

Vertue may be assail’d, but never hurt…”

586-589.

Roy Flannagan glosses this as follows: “In a providential theology, there is no such thing as fate independent of God’s will. Thus pagan “destiny” or “fate” or “chance” should have no meaning to a Christian. And yet it’s a gust of wind that by chance saves Satan from falling forever on his way to Chaos.

2 Responses to On Chance in Milton

  1. Carla Fran says:

    Is Satan Christian, since he very much acknowledges (yet disobeys) the reality of that theology, or does this gust of wind further remove him from what he was cast out of? For some reason, this also bucks me up about sending off writing submissions.

  2. Millicent says:

    Oh my gosh! I totally meant to post this to the dissertation blog! What a moron! Sorry. Ummm… it is totally awesome that this bucks you up about sending off writing submissions! I won’t delete it then! But I will delete the other one.

    The question “Is Satan Christian” blows my mind, just by the way. Hm. No–in the sense that he’s Christ’s enemy. But yes, insofar as he comes from the same universe, and was until recently a higher-up in the position Christ comes to occupy (hence the rebellion). The gust of wind happens when he breaks out of Hell and is on his way to Earth to attack us humans. There’s a no man’s land in between the two that he starts to fall through, and would have kept falling forever except for a random “gust of wind” that came along and swooped him back up and into our lives. Given that Milton says (a good 30 years earlier) that chance is an unchristian concept, it’s funny to see “Chance” cited as the explanatory principle in his epic poem.

    Heh. NOW GO SEND THINGS OUT!!! Give the gust of wind a chance! Or something. I will too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: