Satan's Trouble With Eve

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mid-term Essay: Topics

Write on any one of these three topics, according to the criteria in the syllabus.

1.] Book I of Hobbes’s Leviathan gives an account of what man is. Accepting that Leviathan is a creative work of seventeenth century literature, give an evaluative analysis of Hobbes’ creation of the literary character he names “Man”; in the same way that, in a different course, you would give an evaluative literary analysis of, say, Charles Dickens’ charaterisation of Bill Sykes in Oliver Twist. In addition to the specific details of character that the text contains, you will further elaborate and judge Hobbes’ portrait of “Man” using your choice of some associated literary elements, such as the plot of Leviathan, salient facts of the author’s biography, the social context in which the book was published, or any other characterisations -- historical or contemporary -- to which “Man” may be associated artistically.

2.] Milton’s Paradise Lost contains what may appear to be an internal stress, evident in its opening determination to “…assert Eternal Providence/ And justifie the ways of God to man.” [I,xxv-xxvi.) Asserting that Divinity’s attributes are eternal and provident is safely orthodox; however, not only declaring that Omnipotence requires advocacy but then arguing a legal brief as His barrister threatens heresy. This charge is heightened in many readers’ minds by the intensely appealing characterisation (not, carefully note, the character) of Satan. Drinking yourself, then, from the cup of the Lady of Christ’s perhaps damning presumptuousness, write a paper in which you “….assert Paradise Lost’s orthodoxy/ And justify the ways of Milton to man.” Specifically, concentrate on the characterisation of Satan in Books I-II, and argue that every single statement that “th’ Apostate Angel” (I,cxvx) makes is a Lie, by selecting some choice lines and explicating them in reference to the inner logic and content of Milton’s epic poem.

3.] From our Penguin edition of The Metaphysical Poets, choose from among the poets listed on our course syllabus any two poems which have not been explicated in our seminar time, and give a close reading of each in relation to Henry Vaughan’s translation of Boethius’ metrum IV,vi from The Consolation of Philosophy, as treated in our week two.

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