Comparing John Milton’s Paradise Lost to Pleasantville

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Comparing John Milton’s Paradise Lost to Pleasantville I don’t know if I connected the experiential dots with any dexterity regarding John Milton’s Paradise Lost until I visited Disney World recently. It wasn’t until Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Cruella De Vil, Jafar the evil sorcerer, the Beauty, and the Beast came down Main Street, U.S.A. that I was more able to appreciate the prodigiousness of the procreative masque within Paradise Lost. Panorama grabs the viewer; and, with a mere touch of the remote control, it thrusts him/her into Eden, Main Street, or Pleasantville. Panorama doesn’t settle for facile spectatorship; it invites the viewer into the action and synchronizes the viewer’s pulse with the pulse of its [panorama’s] own creative slide show. To ignore that invite is to not only avoid the tree of knowledge, but to refuse its existence. That tree was not put in the garden to be ignored but to be avoided – a challenge of our obedience towards a sovereign, a tempter of our curiosity, a pulse quickener. And so we sat there in the cool of the shade from our own tree, askance of Main Street but within reach of the remote. We were just far enough away to observe the parade with condescension and just close enough to feel the discomfort of the sorcerer’s leer. First the big mouse, then the princess, then Goofy, then the sorcerer, then the beast – always the beast. I watched the 5-year-old near me and wondered if he felt like Adam may have felt on that lofty mount, as Michael revealed one dramatic historical upheaval after another. I was glad that I didn’t have to worry, didn’t have to get involved. I was happy to know that this bit of fancy was but a type of reality, scripted by that master of artifice, Walt Disne... ... middle of paper ... “delivers” both of his worlds by becoming part of the panorama. He pushes the remote button and affects the circumspection of the real with the creativity of the fanciful. The real and the fanciful have an almost singular or codependent relationship with one another; neither can be ignored in attending to the health of the other. In Bud’s situation, the absenteeism of his corporeal nature is illumined by the activism of his panoramic experience. At the end of the movie “Pleasantville,” Bud is able to take a satisfying look into the television screen, the conduit for his panorama, and know that he was taken out of the shade and into the light. He risked joining the pageantry and ended up having a good day. Next time I’ll sit closer to the parade. Work Cited Milton, John. Paradise Lost. 1674. Ed. Scott Elledge. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1993.

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