The Good Communicated: Milton's Drama of the Fall and the Law of Charity
This chapter offers a suggested cause for Milton's representation of the Fall in Book Nine of Paradise Lost as Eve and Adam's transgression of the law of charity, that is, their violation of the love of God, self, and neighbour. The law of charity, as it is expounded in De Doctrina Christiana, comprises the essence of the divine prohibition not to eat from the Forbidden Tree, constitutes the kernel of the Ten Commandments and the heart of gospel teaching, and forms the basis for Milton's conception of natural law. Milton's drama of the Fall, as well as detailing the fallen couple's violation of the law of charity, anticipates and announces the good communicated, namely the restoration of humanity through the Son, Milton's ‘one greater Man’, through a poetic web of intertextual reference, cross-reference, irony, and scriptural allusion.
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