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Milton's Model of Free Will Provides the Foundation for Pullman's Model of Free Will (Dissertation Sample)


The sample explores the similarities and differences between PULLMAN'S MODEL OF FREE WILL

Milton's Model of Free Will Provides the Foundation for Pullman's Model of Free Will
The epic poem Paradise Lost by John Milton and the trilogy His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman are linked by their model of free will. To have free will means to have at least two options to choose from. Only if the possibility to choose wrongly is granted any moral meaning can be established. In both literary works the characters have free will, which means their course of action is not determined by foreknowledge or fate. Philip Pullman studied John Milton's Paradise Lost and decided to write the trilogy His Dark Materials after a passage from Milton's poem. Even more so, Pullman sought to write a version of Paradise Lost for teenagers (cf. Squires 18). In writing the trilogy Pullman was not only influenced by John Milton but also by William Blake. In his interpretation of Paradise Lost, Pullman follows Blake's reading, that “Milton was a true poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it” (). From that is should follow that Philip Pullman reworks Satan's rebellion and his fall form a critical perspective. However, I would argue that Pullman's model of free will is a revision of Milton's model of free will. In the first part it will be established how Pullman's theological agenda is incorporated in His Dark Materials. Therefore the meaning of Dust as original Sin and Dust a visualisation of consciousness will be discussed. While Dust as original Sin is the way the church defines it, the mulefa define Dust as a visualisation of consciousness. Having established those definitions I will then move on to the second part and show how Dust can be understood as the source of free will and explore to what extent it holds a similar position to Milton's God. In order to do that the model of free will in Paradise Lost will be established. Therefore the creation of the world in Milton's epic poem will be analysed. It will be shown that free will is granted by a omnipotent God. Only if his creatures are able to choose freely—in other words out of love—to obey him, the act of obedience carries any moral meaning. Thus, by nature, human beings are capable of both evil and good and it is their choice that determines their course of action as good or evil. Milton uses the Satan narrative to demonstrate the faculty of free will and its connection to good and evil. Therefore the nature of Satan's rebellion will be analysed and his self-analysis at the beginning of book four. In the third part Milton's Satan will be compared to Mary Malone, Lord Asriel and the Authority figure from His Dark Materials. Mary Malone's evolution from a nun to a scientist to Dust interpreter and finally to her role as the serpent shares many similarities to Satan's decrease from Lucifer to a rebellious archangel, to a fallen angel and to him playing the serpent. To date, scholars have neglected to discuss their similarities and its importance in terms of the trilogies understanding of free will. It will be shown that the comparison between Mary Malone and Satan challenges Pullman's reading of Paradise Lost in many ways. The comparison between Satan and the Authority will lead to a similar conclusion. This thesis distances itself from the ongoing discussion whether the Authority is God or symbolises the authority of organised religion. Instead it analyses the satanic notions in the Authority figure. Although the similarities between Lord Asriel and Satan have been widely discussed by scholars and critics, the connection between Lord Asriel and Milton's Satan has often been concentrated on the heroic qualities of the Satanic Lord Asriel. The comparison of this thesis will dismantle the assumption that Lord Asriel follows the early Blakean interpretation of Satan shows that it has often been established that Lord Asriel is the romantic Satan. The aim of this thesis is to re-examine the theological implications of Pullman's narrative from a critical perspective, especially with regards to his model of free will.
Critical Theory
Philip Pullman studied John Milton's Paradise Lost and decided to write the trilogy His Dark Materials after a passage from Milton's poem. Even more so, Pullman sought to write a version of Paradise Lost for teenagers (cf. Squires 18). The title of the trilogy, His Dark Materials, is taken from a passage of Paradise Lost, which is quoted just before the start of Northern Lights:
Into this wild abyss, / The womb of nature and perhaps her grave, / Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire, / But all these in their pregnant causes mixed / Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight, / Unless the almighty maker them ordain / His dark materials to create more worlds (Milton, Paradise Lost II.910–916)
According to Nicholas Tucker, the author of Darkness Visible: inside the World of Philip Pullman, the quotation “his dark materials” implies “the mixture of fire, air, earth, and water involved in the creation of the world and now at large in the wild shores of Hell” (Tucker 155). The story as will be visualized later in chapter 2, is indeed a story exploring the theme of creation.
While in Paradise Lost John Milton aims to “assert eternal providence, And justify the ways of God to men” (Milton, Paradise Lost I.25–26) in His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman intends to promote that life is to be lived fully in the material world “because for us there is no elsewhere” (Pullman 889). At first glance, it appears that Philip Pullman reworks Milton's narration from a critical perspective. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph from 2002 Pullman states: “‘Blake said Milton was a true poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it. I am of the Devil's party and know it’”(De Bertodano n.p). With this statement, Pullman defines his point of view on the interpretation of Paradise Lost. In the debate between the orthodox approach versus the romantic approach, Pullman clearly sides with the romantic interpretation. Pullman's perception is greatly inspired William Blake's rereading of Paradise Lost in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Within the romantic tradition, the goodness of Milton's God is questioned and Satan is perceived as the true hero of the poem. The romantics admired Satan's heroic qualities such as power of thought, his indestructible will and his perseverance in purpose. This is especially established by Satan's response to the intensity of God's punishment. Satan does not lack creativity or resourcefulness and in spite of torture comes up with a plan for his revenge(cf. Paul Steven Lecture min18:50).For the romantics Milton's Satan becomes a symbol for eternal will and freedom. Philip Pullman reworks Milton's module of free will from a critical perspective. This critical perspective is greatly inspired by William Blake's rereading of Paradise Lost in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:
Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak / enough to be restrained; and the restrainer, or Reason, / usurps its place and governs the unwilling. / And being restrained it by degrees becomes passive, / till it is only the shadow of desire. / The history of this is written in Paradise Lost, and / the Governor, or Reason, is called Messiah. / And the original Archangel, or possessor of the / command of the heavenly host, is called the Devil or / Satan, and his children are called Sin and Death. / But in the Book of Job, Milton’s Messiah is called / Satan. /... / Note. The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he / wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils / and Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s / party without knowing it. (Blake n.p)
The idea that desire gives way to human freedom and that the weakening of desire is an imposition to the freedom of the individual is taken up by Philip Pullman. In His Dark Materials ignorance and knowledge and innocence and experience have a different meaning. In a state of ignorance free will is not present, in a state of knowledge there is. Where for Pullman Eve’s temptation and man’s fall constitute the crowning events of victory within his series, for Milton they constituted tragic events. Where Milton portrays God as the best King, Pullman dethrones God and installs the independent self to the throne. Rather than creation of the world by God, self-creation emerges as the greatest achievement. Rather than God granting freedom, the human liberates herself or himself. And the logic extends further such that the key characters within His Dark Materials should even kill God prior to gaining full self-actualization. Furthermore, Pullman criticises Christian writes such as Lewis and Tolkien. In an interview with Peter T. Chattaway he states: “As for Narnia – I’ve expressed my detestation for that series on several occasions and at length, so I won’t say very much about it here, except to note something that some commentators miss when lumping Lewis and Tolkien together, which is this: that Tolkien was a Catholic, for whom the basic issues of life were not in question, because the Church had all the answers. So nowhere in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is there a moment’s doubt about those big questions. No-one is in any doubt about what’s good or bad; everyone knows where the good is, and what to do about the bad. Enormous as it is, TLOTR is consequently trivial” (n.p). Indeed, Pullman has pointed out his opinion of Religion and God on several occasions. In a different interview with Helena de Bertodano Pullman states: “If there is a God, then he deserves to be put down and rebelled against” (n.p). It is therefore most likely to find some theological agenda in Pullman's His Dark Materials.
Notably, Pullman obtains from Miltoni...
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