ABSTRACT

The relationship between self-knowledge and the knowledge of God is very carefully developed in Paradise Lost. Milton supports Calvin by treating the two forms of knowledge as wholly reliant on one another and as being forms of conscience and of contemplation. Satan's self-knowledge suffers in direct proportion to his dimming knowledge of God. The war in heaven can be seen as a result of the failure of both these knowledges. Eve's failure of self-knowledge in the pool scene compares with Adam's growth into knowledge. After he is created, he lifts his eyes to heaven for knowledge of who made him; Eve looks down at a liquid plain she thinks is the sky. Unlike Satan, who feels he is self-created, Adam, by knowing God and himself “aright,” knows he did not create himself. Eve's pausing at the pool can also be seen as part of a tradition, developed by the Cambridge Platonists, of the soul's contemplation of itself in search of divinity. Eve is entranced by herself because, as Sterry says, she is looking at a beatifical vision.

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