Advertisement

Adam, Eve, and the “Virtuous Touch” of Alchemy

  • Malabika Sarkar
Chapter
  • 89 Downloads

Abstract

In Paradise Lost, Milton has the difficult task of defining the characters of Adam, the “first of men” (4.408), and the “first of women Eve” (4.409), not as a static tableaux, but as evolving figures. Both as individuals and within their relationship, the representation of Adam and Eve in the epic is remarkable for its depth and complexity. Within the very brief time span of the narrative, we notice both individual characteristics that distinguish Adam and Eve as well as subtle changes in their character as the epic proceeds. This nuanced portrayal of the changes that take place in Adam and Eve constitutes the true dramatic core of Paradise Lost. There is no change that we encounter, or indeed expect, in Satan and the good angels, only a series of revelations, sometimes unexpected. It is only in Adam and Eve that there are significant changes in character.

Keywords

Seventeenth Century Celestial Body Invisible College Paradise Lost Dream Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Elias Ashmole, Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (London, 1652).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Frances Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (London, New York: Routledge, 1972).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Allen G. Debus (ed.), Robert Fludd and His Philosophicall Key being a Transcription of the manuscript at Trinity College, Cambridge (New York: Science History Publications, a division of Neale Watson Academic Publications Inc., 1979), introduction, p. 6.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    See Lawrence M. Principe, The Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle and His Alchemical Quest (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    See Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs, Alchemical Death and Resurrection: The Significance of Alchemy in the Age of Newton (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institute Libraries, 1990); and The Janus Face of Genius: The Role of Alchemy in Newton’s Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    For the history of alchemy, see specially Allen G. Debus, Man and Nature in the Renaissance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978); and Chemistry, Alchemy and the New Philosophy, 1550–1700 (London: Variorum Reprints, 1987).Google Scholar
  7. See also Stanton J. Linden, The Alchemy Reader: From Hermes Trismegistus to Isaac Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    William Eamon, “From the Secrets of Nature to Public Knowledge,” in Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution, ed. David C. Lindberg and Robert S. Westman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 352.Google Scholar
  9. See also Charles Webster, “New Light on the Invisible College: The Social Relations of English Science in the Mid-Seventeenth Century,” in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, ser.5, 24 (1974), 19–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 9.
    Eluned Crawshaw, “Thomas Vaughan and ‘That Slidyng Science,’ Alchemy,” in The Anglo-Welsh Review 19 (1969), 146–55.Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    Lyndy Abraham, Marvell Alchemy (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1990), p. 11.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    See Lyndy Abraham, A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998; paperback rpt 2001), p. 55.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    James Kinsley (ed.), The Poems of John Dryden (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958), 4 vols, I, p. 231.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    P. M. Rattansi, “Paracelsus and the Puritan Revolution,” Ambix vol. XI, no. 1 (February 1963), 24–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 16.
    David Mulder, The Alchemy of Revolution: Gerrard Winstanley’s Occultism and Seventeenth-Century English Communism (New York, Bern, Frankfurt am Main, Paris: P. Lang, 1990).Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    John Rogers, The Matter of Revolution: Science, Poetry and Politics in the Age of Milton (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1996), p. 47.Google Scholar
  17. 19.
    See ibid., p. 60; and Christopher Hill, Milton and the English Revolution (London: Faber and Faber, 1977), p. 332. “Tincture” is an alchemical term signifying the philosopher’s stone or elixir, which tinges base metal into gold. See Abraham, Alchemical Imagery, p. 200.Google Scholar
  18. 21.
    See Jackson I. Cope, The Metaphoric Structure of Paradise Lost (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1962).Google Scholar
  19. 22.
    D. C. Allen, “Milton and the Descent to Light,” Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. LX, 1961, pp. 614–630; p. 618; p. 626.Google Scholar
  20. 24.
    See Bryan Aubrey, Watchmen of Eternity: Blake’s Debt to Jacob Boehme (Lanham, New York, London: University Press of America, 1986).Google Scholar
  21. 26.
    Alexander Roob, The Hermetic Museum: Alchemy and Mysticism (Koln: TASCHEN GmbH, 2001), p. 104.Google Scholar
  22. 27.
    See ibid., p. 60; and Joscelyn Godwin, Robert Fludd: Hermetic Philosopher and Surveyor of Two Worlds (London: Thames and Hudson, 1979), p. 55.Google Scholar
  23. 28.
    Urszula Szulakowska, The Alchemy of Light: Geometry and Optics in Late Renaissance Alchemical Illustration (Leiden, Boston, Koln: Brill, 2000), pp. 175–77.Google Scholar
  24. 35.
    Gareth Roberts, The Mirror of Alchemy: Alchemical Ideas and Images in Manuscripts and Books from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century (London: The British Library, 1994), p. 78.Google Scholar
  25. 36.
    Johannes Fabricius, Alchemy: The Medieval Alchemists and their Royal Art (London: The Antiquarian Press, 1976).Google Scholar
  26. 37.
    Deborah E. Harkness, John Dee’s Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 39.
    Gordon Campbell and Thomas N. Corns, John Milton, Life, Work, and Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 339.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Malabika Sarkar 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malabika Sarkar

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations