Langland Milton, Milton, and the Felix Culpa.
Milton’s and WL’s attitudes toward the felix culpa differ markedly: Paradise Lost ends on a note of hopefulness deeply interwoven with regret; in PPl the destruction of an enclosed place of goodness (Unity / Holy Church) is portrayed without nostalgia, with the ensuing journey of Conscience determined and hopeful. Will’s exposure to the aging process (B.20.183-208) leads to the cultivation of love, whereas dissolution of the body as described by Michael (11.538-46) is without any positive development. To WL the Fall provides crucial knowledge of joy for both God and man, and serves to oblige God, having become man’s blood relative, to be merciful; Milton’s God is neither changed nor challenged by the Incarnation. The responsibility for sin sits squarely in creaturely free choice in Paradise Lost; WL, however, allows the suggestion that sin is God’s responsibility and part of the plan from the beginning. Milton stresses obedience to God over love and justice over mercy; to WL the status of obedience and of justice are not so secure.
RES ns 45 (1994): 336-56.