Raphael On Trial: Digestive Ontology and Milton's Absolution of God
- Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- Volume 51, 2020
- pp. 213-236
- Additional Information
This paper reconsiders monist materialism in Milton criticism by addressing three issues in Paradise Lost: Raphael's ethos, Raphael's logos, and Milton's utilization of both for his poetic theodicy. It pays particular attention to the dubious functions of the ethical and logical flaws in Raphael's ontological discourse. This discourse—which I describe as "digestive ontology"—revolves around the concepts of universal materiality and digestive sublimation. It is also what forms the evidential basis of monist materialism. I argue that Raphael's digestive ontology is crucial to Milton's creative objective, precisely because of its numerous dissonances. These dissonances are necessary for Milton's incorporation of God into a narrative and his concomitant absolution of God, as they prompt readers to find the fallible Raphael, not the infallible God, accountable for the Fall. Raphael is thus the crux of Milton's resolution of the metaphysical, epistemological, and theological crises that the problem of evil and the conflicts between narrative and theodicy inevitably present.