Revealing The Idea Of The Successive Fall Of Man Through The Defiance Of Justice In Literature
The rejection of God’s laws and subsequent expulsion affects both the individual and collective within a society. Both John Milton and Arthur Miller exposed the idea of the successive fall of man through the defiance of justice. This furthermore alludes to the prevalence of this within their own respective contexts.
John Milton’s Paradise Lost revolutionised the conventions of epic poetry and raised radical questions about marriage, monarchy, free will and national heroes, yet a particular excerpt narrating the fall of Satan into hell emphasises the seductive nature of the devil and his capacity to be manipulative. “Who first seduced them to that foul revolt? The infernal serpent;… him the Almighty Power”. Milton’s poetry reflects deep personal convictions and a passion for freedom and self-determination. “Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace and rest can never dwell, hope never comes” this line accentuates a complete juxtaposition of Heaven to hell, yet when Paradise lost was written, it was in a time of religious flux and political upheaval where Milton believed that man should interpret the bible and opposed religious institutions such as the Church of England, and the monarchy. These tensions within his world are reflected throughout various descriptions of Hell “for those rebellious, here their prison ordained” Similarly, Arthur Miller reflects the influence of the threat of the cold war within his own 1950’s context. This idea is strongly reflected within The Crucible where the rejection of justice in favour for individual sanctity is exemplified when Giles says “This man is killing his neighbours for his land!” this high modality language suggestive of the idea of persecuting someone in order for personal gain is highly reflective of Millers own social turmoil.
Not only are both Miller and Milton objective to their respective contexts, but they both also align similar characteristics in regards to their antagonists:
Milton received backlash from Paradise as some critics believed him to be in favour of the devil, for example when Percy Shelly commented “Milton’ Devil as a moral being is… far superior to his God”
Sexual connotation seen when looking deeper into The Crucible, show similar language used to that of Milton’s in Paradise Lost, “until an hour before he fell, even God thought him beautiful in Heaven” This line used during the backstory of Reverend Hale connects the exception of the devils presence withing Salem, later “sex, sin, and the devil were… linked”. With connotations of the devil in connection with sexual language Satan’s own description in Paradise Lost becomes synonymous to Abigail’s manipulative actions, for example the Devil being described as “rebellious” “favoured highly” and to have “glory above his peers” can also be identified within Abigail’s authority over the group of girls. In The Crucible we can see her manipulative words and actions used to deceive others and adapt situations into her own favour such as later in Act Three where Abigail pretends to see a ‘yellow bird’ upon the beam overhead and speaks to it as though it were Mary. She says, ‘But God made my face; you cannot want to tear my face. Envy is a deadly sin, Mary… this is a black art to change your shape.’ Abigail using emotive words such as ‘black art’ and suggesting of shapeshifting which allows for supernatural and undetectable evidence to be used, therefore no proof other than her own mind is liable.
In psychology, the dark triad refers to the personality traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. They are called ‘dark’ because of their malevolent qualities including Narcissism, grandiosity, pride, egotism, and a lack of empathy, here in this scene, these characteristics are evidently outlined through the loss of compassion for Mary and Proctor in order for Abigail’s own personal gain of ruining Elizabeth Proctor.
This scene not only allows the audience to understand the machiavellian qualities of Abigail but also alludes to the influence of Miller’s context. “[. . . In] America any man who is not reactionary in his views is open to charge of alliance with the Red hell” Miller makes this comment in the first act while explaining the theocratic nature of Salem’s society. Like in Salem, where heresy was punishable by banishment or death, lack of ardent patriotism in America immediately aroused suspicion of communism. When people were being accused with no evidence to back the claim, even the slightest show of discontent was a risk.
Remaining objective to tyrannical powers allows for opinions that aren’t swayed by community consensus. Milton, through epic poetry, was able to allude to the fall of man in conjunction with the importance of individual interpretation of the bible whilst opposing institutionalized religion. Miller, through his satirical playwright of The Crucible, was a written representation of the unjust nature of McCarthyism combined with the destructive qualities of its consequences. Both Paradise Lost and The Crucible emphasize the use of sexualised manipulative characters through evocative symbolism and corrupted actions.