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Discovery of Soulmates
|by Tanvi Patel|
The attempt to discover our soul mates remains one of the most exercised feats of life. The search for a complementary partner often emerges from a quest for a complete self. There is an inner desire for wholeness that remains at the heart of all human endeavors. The manner in which the sexes repel and attract each other stays an eternal mystery because a variety of people find each other in a plethora of ways. One specific resolution to this enigma may stem from a wish to know the world through different lenses. We are often attracted to people that are categorically dissimilar to us since they provide a new outlook on life that challenges our own views. This challenge captures our inquisitive mind and draws us to difference.
From this window of curiosity, there emerges a specific attraction to contrast. John Milton explores this relation between men and women in certain sections of his great epic, Paradise Lost. Coupled with the necessity for completeness, Milton asserts that human attraction may be based on a need to explore and attain the differences between sexes. The two relationships of particular interest for comparison are the epic narrator to his muse Urania1 and Adam to Eve. In many ways, Milton draws upon the narrator-muse relationship to construct the association between Adam and Eve. There are qualities in each woman that the men seek after and characteristics in the men that the women would like to gain. Through the similarities of inspiration, universality, limitation, dreams, identity, and position, Milton shows that men and women are attracted to primarily the same things in each other. When these differences come together, we obtain a sense of totality that can not exist in individuality. Milton asserts that there shall be "one flesh, one heart, one soul" for the pairs of lovers and in the ideal realm, all soul mates find each other. (VIII:495)
There seems to be a particular sense of illumination that is created with the introduction of the muse and Eve into the respective worlds of the epic narrator and Adam. The muse's primary purpose is to inspire the epic narrator to write his great epic and therefore he "hail[s] holy light" to enter his world. (III:1) At different points throughout the poem, the narrator calls on his muse to enlighten him with knowledge and information that he does not possess. His primary request is to "Illumine, what in [him] is dark." (I:22-23) The enlightenment that ensues from her aid is greatly influential in generating his creativity. He "feel[s] her Sovran vital Lamp" when the knowledge is passed into him. (III:22) It is only through Urania's illumination that the epic narrator is able to create Paradise Lost. The epic narrator then passes on this need for light to Adam. Milton suggests that Eve gives Adam a new sense of light when she appears in Paradise for the first time. He notes that in her presence, there are energies ignited in him that can not be created in any other way. After the initial meeting, Eve "disappear'd, and left [him] dark." (VIII:479) The sense of darkness he feels from her disappearance is portrayed quite negatively. Thus, Milton suggests that women tend to bring a sense of brilliance into the lives of men when they enter. The brightness balances the darkness of their lives and fits the mold of completeness.
The idea of totality is strongly correlated with the notion of universality in the relationships between the two dyads. The epic narrator chooses to call upon Urania, the muse of astronomy to help him write his great epic and to connect him to the universe "[she] know'st; [since she] from the first wast present." (I:19-20) Urania was present for the creations of all the realms because of her astronomical nature and she therefore can provide the information and background necessary for authenticity of this epic poem. She becomes the most relevant choice to write about the different realms of the universe because she has visited and is quite familiar with these places. The epic narrator can not and has not been to heaven or hell and therefore can not rely solely on his own knowledge of these locations. He knows that "Heav'n hides nothing from [her] view nor the deep tract of hell" and therefore she can help him as no one else can. (I:27-28) The muse takes the epic narrator to Hell in Book I, to Heaven in Book III, and to Earth in Book XII of Paradise Lost. He is able to travel to "the Heav'n of Heav'ns… led by" his muse while he remains an "earthly guest." (VII:12-14) Through the invocation of the muse, the narrator is able to visualize neighboring realms. He deliberately "invoke[s] [her] aid to [his] advent'rous song" because he knows this epic will require some help to be on the level of previous writers. (I:13) The muse helps the narrator move beyond the epic poets of the past to a new and more accurate realm of poetry that remains in a category of "things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhyme."(I:16) Milton illustrates that without his muse, the epic narrator would be at a loss for accuracy. In a sense, the narrator's muse brings him a literal and educational universe. The epic narrator needs his muse to attain the level of authority that he attempts to achieve with Paradise Lost.
Universality is also present in the relationship of Adam and Eve in the form of the cosmos. Eve has the capacity to transport Adam to Heaven, Hell, and Earth in various sections of the poem. She is the cause of his divine connection to Heaven when Adam wants God to create a companion because he asks, "in solitude, what happiness, who can enjoy alone… what contentment find?" (VIII:364-365) Adam knows that it is no fun to be by himself. In asking for a playmate, Adam is able to strengthen his ideology of the divine when God asks him questions regarding his request. God asks why "the earth with various living creatures" is not enough for Adam. (VIII:369-370) God's inquiry helps Adam to see that he wishes to have an individual of incompleteness with him in paradise. This revelation only occurs when Adam can see God as a source of perfection. Adam notes that God "art perfect" and there "is no deficience found" in him while "man by number is to manifest his single imperfection" and join with another to person. (VIII:415-416, 422-423) Therefore, in his wish for Eve, Adam sees God in a distinctive light and consequently becomes closer to him and Heaven.
Hell is given to Adam by Eve when he metaphorically falls as a result of his eating the apple from the Tree of Knowledge upon her coaxing and because of his love for her. Adam knew better and was "scrupl'd not to eat against his better knowledge" but he was "overcome with female charm" and he plunged. (IX:997-999) The falling sensation resulting from his disobedience to God parallels him to the actions of Satan since both abandon reason because of presumed obligation. This metaphoric travel to Hell can not be possible without Eve because Adam is characterized to have too much inner reason to fall. Finally, Eve again has the capacity to take Adam to Earth when both of them are escorted out of Paradise because of her fall. Adam is returned to his natural element because the root of his name means "earth." In this manner, Eve allows Adam to experience the universe by taking him to different realms. He does not have the ability to travel to these arenas by himself. She shows him to "dream not of other worlds" and be happy where you are. (VIII:175) By being the guide to his travels, Eve implicitly shows Adam that the world of Paradise is marvelous in comparison.
The method in which the women enter the lives of the epic narrator and Adam serve as another similarity that leads to self-exploration. Both Urania and Eve enter the lives of their men in a dream. The muse arrives into the epic narrator's world and "visit'st [his] slumbers nightly" to relay her astronomical information. (VII:29) The timing seems very crucial because it suggests that she comes to him when he is ready to tap into his own conscience and inner ego. Dreams make the individual vulnerable to the repressed thoughts of the ego. Urania "dictates to [him in] her nightly visitation [and] inspires easy [his] unpremeditated verse." (IX: 22-24)The nocturnal visitations illustrate a connection to the inner self because the muse becomes a catalyst for his inventive thought and creation. She awakens in him areas in himself that he can not see during the daylight hours because of his prisoned ego. He asks her specifically to "raise and support, what is low" in him. (I:24) Milton suggests that without the dreamlike entrance by the muse, the epic narrator might not have realized and exercised his own potential.
Adam is also in a dream state when Eve is initially created. God deliberately puts Adam to sleep but leaves open the opportunity to use his fancy so he can understand Eve's creation without seeing it. Adam remembers that "dazzl'd and spent… [he] sought repair of sleep" after his wishes of Eve. (VIII:457-458) But he recalls that in his sleep " open left the cell of fancy my internal sight, by which [he remained] abstract in a trance." (VIII:460-462) The nighttime image used by Milton shows that great things are created in a dreamlike reverie and therefore, the inner parts of the soul should be explored because they hold valuable treasures. In this state, Adam sees a "shape still glorious before whom awake I stood" and realized that it was Eve.(VIII:464) Adam can fully visualize and admire the shape and beauty of Even in his sleep. The entrance of Eve in a dreamlike sequence is important because the slumber state allows Adam to tap into a sublime realm of imagination. Both men are able to see things in a different way in their nocturnal encounters. Milton shows that both the epic narrator and Adam need their women to enter in the specific way of dreams to fully value their existence.
Adding to the notion of travel is the idea of freedom through limitation. In the last of his four invocations to his muse Urania, the epic narrator asks to be restricted in the chains of tragedy to escape from the epic heroism since he "must change those notes to tragic." (IX:6) It may seem that the epic narrator may not have the experience of writing great tragedies and therefore would need help reaching this kind of poetry. He wants a style of tragedy from his muse that will help him elevate his status above the great tragic epic writers of the past. The narrator asks Urania to "fail not" because she "art Heavn'ly, [and] [Calliope] an empty dream." (VII: 38-39) The epic narrator believes he can create a more heroic subject in Adam and Eve than all the tragic heroes of the past, since he has chosen to invoke Urania instead of Calliope. It is interesting to note here that the narrator chooses Urania, who is very unlike him, over Calliope who shares his literary and especially his poetic background. Milton carefully weaves his theme of opposite attraction in to this choice between the muses. Since the narrator is asking for a specific type of language for his ending, the choice of Urania, as opposed to Calliope, is very fitting because Urania allows the narrator form without restriction. Calliope would have too many rigid rules on language and would not let him compose to his desire. In reference to the earlier poets, Urania gives the narrator "an answerable style" of tragedy but the narrator is free to explore in that realm as he sees fit. (IX:20) The epic narrator knows that Urania can be useful in writing because Moses invoked her when he wrote the Ten Commandments since he says that she "didst inspire that Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed." (I:7-8) Therefore, the limitation that comes from freedom is one that can only be provided by the muse Urania. The combination of muse and narrator results in a masterful creation of Book IX of Paradise Lost.
Although not for the same purpose of creation, Adam too finds greater freedom with limitation. Adam's principal limitation results from his marriage to Eve. The bonds of marriage, however, allow him to see and experience things beyond his comprehension thus far. By entering the shackles of matrimony, Adam opens the door to a realm of possibilities such as weakness and love that are not open to him as a single person. Adam becomes "weak against the charm of beauty's powerful glance." (VIII:532-533) She becomes a mysterious elegance and sole object of his newly founded weakness. He says that "nature failed in me" because he feels that his creator has taken too much from him in terms of appearance and given it to Eve. (VIII:534) He feels connected to her because she has this incredible beauty. Adam's definition of Paradise is completely embodied in Eve. The experiences Adam has are enhanced because he has someone to share and participate in his life. Thus the marriage brings Adam to a sense of freedom because is he able to tap into a realm of emotions that were closed off until his nuptials. This uneven sense of appearance becomes yet another argument for Milton's ideology of completeness. Eve is "so lovely fair, that what seem'd fair in all the world, seem'd now mean." (VIII:471-473) Adam is very attracted to Eve's beauty in part because he does not have it himself. He wishes that he had the power to be as beautiful as Eve and realization of not being able to attain this beauty makes him curious to know about the individual who can possess it. This notion of need for something he can not have attracts Adam and draws him to Eve. Therefore, the limitation of marriage lets Adam have a sense of freedom and allows Milton to craft his theme of soul mates.
The idea of soul mates requires a reciprocal effect of attraction on the part of the women. Both Eve and Urania inadvertently require and receive similar qualities that their respective men provide. The most important of these qualities is a sense of identity that is invoked when he asks "Urania" to "descend from Heav'n… if rightly [she] are called." (VII:1-2) The creation and naming of the muse was a choice made completely by the epic narrator. He eventually chooses to give his inspiration a name to clearly identify his source of creativity. By specifically naming his muse, the epic narrator allows the audience to know her and thereby acknowledge his gratitude of her aid. The narrator thanks Urania by specifically mentioning her in the epic. Since the choice of using a muse was made by the epic narrator, the muse is thankful for her being needed and applied in the poem. Urania needs the narrator to name her in his piece because she has no other way of telling his audience that she was involved in this poetic creation. She can not obtain credit for her assistance without the epic narrator because the ultimate task of writing belongs to him. He gives her respect and praise for her involvement in writing Paradise Lost. Milton therefore suggests that the muse needs the epic narrator to fulfill his task of composing as she has completed her inspirational one. The muse's creation and employment is completely at the hands of the epic narrator and she is solely dependent upon his choice here.
In the attempt to complete his own task of naming the creatures in Paradise, Adam also gives a title to "thy fair Eve". (VIII:171) Her name gives her a sense of order in the new world in which she finds herself. The name Eve comes from a Hebrew word "Hayya" meaning life. The particular name Adam chooses for Eve gives her a specific job of becoming the mother of all people because she is to bring life into Paradise in the form of children. The name itself gives her a place in the world because she can be referred to specially and can not just be another creature in the crowd. The name also suggests that she gives life to him because she "infus'd sweetness into [his] heart" and she stimulates in romantic attraction in him. (VIII:474-475) However, Eve must rely on Adam to give her a name and certain responsibilities because she will not be able to get them directly from God. No other creature in Paradise is equipped with the knowledge and reason to name except Adam. Therefore, he remains a necessary element to her existence. Eve needs Adam to know more about herself through her name. With her identity, she can fulfill her responsibilities with ease. The need of Adam is consequently manifested in a search for her inner self.
Another very important aspect of the dyad relationship is their position in relation to each other. In this particular segment, the women look to the men to find their specific rank and role in the world. The narrator realizes that he is "nor skill'd nor studious, [and a] higher argument remains" to be understood by him through Urania. (IX:42-43) When the narrator mentions the muse and gives her credit for the knowledge that enabled him to write Paradise Lost, he establishes a teacher-student relationship with the muse. The narrator is inclined to learn the ways of the universe with the muse as his instructor. He gives credit to his teacher by noting that he was "taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down the dark descent." (III:19-20) As a consequence of this relationship, the muse is placed on a higher platform of hierarchy and he looks up to her. Her position is far more elevated than his own because she "with eternal wisdom didst converse" and his is a mortal realm of knowledge. (VII:9) Her position however, can only be realized in comparison to the epic narrator. His diction and imagery used to characterize the muse helps to elevate her in the eyes of his audience as well. The epic narrator is the only one that can describe her position and allow the audience to know her value. Therefore, she needs him to relate to the audience her importance and worth. Milton suggests that without the epic narrator, the muse would not have been highlighted.
Just as the epic narrator becomes the marker of comparison the muse in his specific work, Adam too positions Eve for his purposes. Milton illustrates that Eve has secondary positioning to Adam since she was created after him on the evolutionary timeline. Since God gave Adam the power to name and therefore control the things in Paradise, Eve takes a backseat to her husband even though she also remains above the flora and fauna of the realm. Adam knows that "of nature her th' inferior, in the mind and inward facilities." (VIII:541-542) Another reason for her secondary position stems from the fact that she was created from Adam and not directly from God and Eve is "resembling less his image who mad both" of them. (VIII:544-545) This occurrence suggests that she can not be an equal to Adam because she was created from only one specific part of him. Adam remembers that with "the rib he form'd and fashion'd" and with this a "creature grew" of a "different sex." (VIII:469-471) Eve is very much a reflection of Adam because she is created from his rib, but she remains her own individual. In contrast with the other dyad relationship, Eve continually remains a student to Adam in reference to learning about God. This again plays a role in her position of second mate because she can not directly learn and contact God, as Adam is able to do. She learns only from Adam and is very content with this arrangement because he provides her with sugarcoated knowledge that is sensitive to her feminine softness. Milton specifically says that "her husband the relator she preferr'd" because she received "such pleasure" from his stories. (VIII:50,52) Adam shields harshness from her because she prefers it. With a comparison to Adam, Eve finds her niche in the cosmos. Milton illustrates Eve's need for Adam in order to find herself in relation to the world. As she begins to find herself, she realizes that she needs her male counterpart to become her full self. This attracts her to Adam and illustrates Milton's idea of a united being.
With the accumulation of all these similarities and desires, the notation of needs in specific dyad relationships is welcomed. As illustrated in these two couples, men and women look for characteristics that will heighten a sense of self that may have remained hidden thus far. In Paradise Lost, Milton asserts that we are drawn to persons who can aid in our development and understanding of the world because they serve as supplements to our character. Upon introduction of the other half, we tend to feel a sense of completeness and wholeness that can not be achieved as individuals. The genders complement each other and provide features thus far unexplored. They show us personas in ourselves that we refuse to or can not see. Milton sheds his light to the question of opposite attraction by asserting that curiosity feeds interest in life and results in a positive sense of completion.
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