Blindness and Posthuman Sexuality in Paradise Lost

  • John S. Garrison
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter examines the intersection of monstrosity and sexuality in John Milton’s Paradise Lost in order to reveal connections between supernatural coupling and disability within the epic poem. Exploring the sexuality of unfallen and fallen angels reveals how Paradise Lost celebrates not only the inability to recognize others but also the sexual coupling of non-normative bodies. Tracing the linkages that Milton builds between sexuality and lack of recognition yields a more nuanced understanding of the connection between disability and monstrosity, and ultimately reveals new insight into the erotics in Milton’s poem. In the early modern cultural context, a profoundly Christian writer such as John Milton would be expected to understand blindness as a disease to be healed or a problem to be resolved. Yet, intriguingly, he suggests that this disability might be addressed not by “curing” it but by reframing the way in which readers might consider it, shifting readers’ perception of it from an affliction to an enabler of new forms of affection. This chapter ultimately suggests that the poet’s depictions of angelic erotic coupling constitute a celebration of interpersonal relations devoid of visual recognition.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John S. Garrison
    • 1
  1. 1.Grinnell CollegeGrinnellUSA

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