Sample Conference Presentation Shari Hodges, Ph. D.
The following paper is an expanded version of a presentation I gave at the 1994 College English Association Conference in Orlando, Florida. The presentation won the award for Outstanding Paper Presented by a Graduate Student and was published in CEA Forum 24.2 (1994).
A Pedagogically Useful Comparison of
Star Trek II and Paradise Lost
When I first taught John Miltons Paradise Lost in an undergraduate British Masterworks course, I dreaded teaching the daunting epic almost as much as my students dreaded reading it. I admit that I subscribed to the popular conception of Paradise Lost as the bane of beginning literature students. How was I to excite the students' interest in Milton's text when they claimed that the reading was too difficult or "just plain boring"?
I considered that for students alienated by the poetic language, length, and complexity of Milton's seventeenth-century work, a twentieth-century parallel might be helpful. Having used films as teaching supplements throughout the course, I chose as a comparison for Paradise Lost two Star Trek films: the television episode, "The Space Seed," and its cinematic sequel, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
The comparison helped the students overcome their preconceived aversion to Milton's text and recognize the lasting appeal of Milton's story and characters. Exploration of intertextuality between the films and Miltons work facilitated the students understanding of Paradise Losts central themes and generated enough interest to expedite the study of the epics poetic complexities. To understand the pedagogical implications of this comparison, let us begin by examining the similarities between Milton's text and the Star Trek films.
Parallels of Film and Text
In the television episode "The Space Seed," the starship Enterprise, commanded by Captain Kirk, discovers a two-hundred-year-old derelict space craft, the Botany Bay, carrying 72 humans in suspended animation. Kirk revives their leader, whom he discovers is Khan Nunian Sing, an infamous criminal from Earth's final World War. Khan and his followers were "supermen," physically and mentally superior humans created by a group of ambitious geneticists, who united to seize control of Earth but were eventually overthrown and sentenced to exile aboard the penal deportation vessel, Botany Bay.
With the help of Lt. Marla McGivers, an Enterprise crew member, Khan awakens his followers and usurps command of the Enterprise. But Kirk and his crew eventually defeat Khan and offer the superhumans the ultimatum of facing justice on Earth or accepting a new exile on an abandoned planet. Khan responds, "Have you ever read Milton, Captain?" Kirk replies, "Yes, I understand" ("The Space Seed"). Khan has chosen exile, accompanied by his followers and his new mate Lt. McGivers. Kirk later explains Khan's literary allusion to Satan's famous statement from Paradise Lost, "Better to reign in hell, than serve in heav'n" (I.263).
This allusion engenders the most obvious comparison between the film and Milton's work: the parallel between Khan and Milton's Satan. Both are super beings who lead their own kind to rebellion against their creators. Khan's original rebellion on Earth and consequent exile in the Botany Bay parallel Satan's rebellion and fall. Each villain awakens after his fall to discover his exiled condition and revive his followers to continue the war.
But Khans subsequent attack on the Enterprise is another parallel to Satans original war in heaven. The Enterprise, an "empire" floating in space, evokes comparisons with heaven and is ruled by a "trinity": Captain Kirk; his second in command, Mr. Spock; and the ship's chief medical officer, Dr. McCoy. 1 Khan's assault upon the Enterprise works as a fine comparison for Satan's assault upon heaven recounted in Book V of Paradise Lost.
Khan possesses Satan's noble qualities--superior intelligence, beauty, courage, charisma--but also Satan ' s destructive egoism and ambition. To explain why Khan's supermen originally seized power on Earth, Mr. Spock points out, "Superior ability breeds superior ambition" ("The Space Seed"). Spock's comment echoes Satan's complaint against God: "O had his powerful destiny ordained / Me some inferior angel, I had stood / Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised / Ambition" (PL IV.58-61). Thus, in the case of both Khan and Satan, the creator's good intentions are perverted when the creature's noble traits engender ignoble aspirations.
This combination of heroic and villainous qualities, the hallmark of the "Satanic hero," has long disturbed Milton's readers. For students confused by this common desire to view Milton's villain as the epic's actual hero, the following scene from the Star Trek episode may provide some insight.
While discussing Khan's dangerous history, Kirk's crew reveal a strong admiration for Khan. Kirk claims that Khan and his followers "were supermen in a sense--stronger, braver, certainly more ambitious, more daring." But Mr. Spock, ruled by his completely logical Vulcan heritage, is appalled by "this romanticism about a ruthless dictator." Kirk explains, "Mr. Spock, we humans have a streak of barbarism in us appalling, but there, nevertheless. . . . We can be against and admire him [Khan] all at the same time." "Illogical," Spock declares. "Totally," replies Kirk ("The Space Seed"). This scene may cause students to speculate that their admiration for Satanic heroes originates in that illogical "streak of barbarism" in human nature resulting from humanitys fallen condition. We identify with Khan and Satan because their paradoxical mixture of nobility and evil corresponds to our own ambivalent natures.
The Satanic hero's fascination is also evident in Lt. McGivers' passionate attraction to Khan. McGivers makes a convenient comparison for Milton's Eve and is an excellent catalyst for classroom discussion of Milton's sexism. 2 McGivers is the Enterprise's historian; she is a professional woman but is depicted as inferior to her male co-workers because of her gender. Kirk claims that McGivers' reason is clouded by a sexual attraction for Khan, implying that, as a female, she is particularly susceptible to the enemy's seductive maneuvers.
Unfortunately, McGivers' professional abilities are indeed undermined by an unprofessional emotionalism. For example, when Kirk's crew discover the sleeping supermen aboard the Botany Bay, McGivers' first comment is, "What a handsome group of people!" As the other crew members conduct scientific investigations of the ship, McGivers stands mesmerized by the beauty of Khan's sleeping figure.
Milton's Eve is similarly depicted as the inferior creature ruled by emotions instead of reason. Milton describes Adam and Eve as "both / Not equal, as their sex not equal seemed; / For contemplation he and valor formed, / For softness she and sweet attractive grace" (PL IV.295-98). Like McGivers, Eve is associated with physical beauty and passion.
Both McGivers and Eve rebel against their male leaders. Kirk warns McGivers that her feelings for Khan are obscuring her professional judgment, but she insists that her relationship with Khan is "purely professional" and ignores her danger. In a similar scene from Book IX of Paradise Lost, Adam tells Eve of Satan's entrance into Paradise and warns her not to go out to work alone. Eve stubbornly insists upon her ability to deal with any enemy.
As a result, Khan and Satan seduce the women by making similar appeals to their vanity. Khan compliments McGivers' beauty and offers to make her his consort. 3 Satan adores Eve's "celestial beauty" (PL IX.540), refers to her as "Queen of this universe" (PL IX.684), and persuades her to eat the forbidden fruit by convincing her that it will raise her to godhood.
Rebellion by the female characters results in the fall of their male leaders and dependents. But both women repent of their sin and are reconciled to their male superiors. McGivers helps Kirk regain command of the Enterprise, and Eve returns to her position as God's servant and Adam's helpmate. Both women likewise ultimately suffer exile for their rebellion.
Further parallels with Paradise Lost occur in the television episode's movie sequel Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which is set twenty years later. Khan, now worn and embittered by his long exile, is still trapped with his followers on the abandoned planet. A clever camera shot of Khan's meager home reveals his small library. Among the books are Moby Dick and Paradise Lost, readings that have slowly nurtured Khan's obsessive, Satanic desire for vengeance against Kirk.
Khan gets his opportunity when he and his supermen capture a starship that unwittingly stumbles across the planet. Khan seduces the Captain and first mate by an unusual method reminiscent of Satan's seductive techniques: a small reptilian creature enters the victim's ear and coils itself about the brain, rendering the victim highly susceptible to suggestion. This process echoes Satan's entrance into the serpent, whose labyrinthine coils are comparable to the human brain (PL IX.182-91). The scene likewise parallels Satan's first attack on Eve. In the form of a toad, Satan crouches by Eve's sleeping body and pours "poison" into her mind by whispering evil thoughts into her ear (PL IV.799-809).
After capturing the starship and escaping exile, Khan determines to renew his conflict with Kirk. Johakim, Khan's second in command, advises against pursuing Kirk: "We are free--we have a ship and a means to go where we will. . . . You have proved your superior intellect. You have defeated the plans of Admiral Kirk. You do not need to defeat him again" (Star Trek II). Johakim's advice resembles the words of those who, in Book II of Paradise Lost, during Satan's council in hell, advise the exiled Satan against pursuing open war with God. For example, Mammon advises that "dismissing quite / All thoughts of war" (PL II.282-83), they should found a "nether empire" (PL II.296) in hell that in time will rival heaven.
But both Satan and Khan reject all peaceful alternatives and continue the war. Khan decides to capture the "Genesis Project," a Federation project for creating life from inorganic matter, and use the power of creation as a weapon against Kirk. Khan's plan resembles Satan's final scheme to attack God's creation and seduce man.
Meanwhile, Kirk, now a Federation Admiral, councils with his own followers to thwart the villain.
Symbolism associating Kirk, Spock, and McCoy with the Holy Trinity continues throughout the film. Light imagery emphasizes Kirk's godlike power. He first appears entering the Enterprise bridge in a halo of light. In a later scene, Kirk's reflection appears in a mirror encircled by lights and suspended on the wall above Spock's head. This striking image presents Kirk as godlike superior to Spock's Christ figure and suggests that the two characters are reflections of a single essence.
Another scene similarly suggests Spock's function as Christ-like doppelganger. When Kirk is reluctantly celebrating his fiftieth birthday, Spock gives Kirk an antique edition of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, a thematically significant gift, since the novel's hero sacrifices his life for his friend, who is literally his twin in appearance. The gift foreshadows Spock's approaching sacrificial fate.
A later conversation between Kirk and Spock resembles the heavenly council between God and the Son in Book III of Paradise Lost, in which God reveals to the heavenly host Satan's plans for destroying creation, and the Son offers himself as sacrifice to atone for man's sin. In the Star Trek scene, Kirk tells Spock that the Genesis Project is endangered by an unknown enemy. Spock, now Captain of the Enterprise, offers to return command of the ship to Kirk. He claims that he has "no ego to bruise" by demoting himself and insists, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." "Or the one," Kirk replies (Star Trek II).
Spock's willingness to sacrifice himself for the "needs of the many" echoes the Son's offer of sacrifice. The Son exclaims to God,
Behold me then, me for him [man], life for life
I offer, on me let thine anger fall;
Account me man; I for his sake will leave
Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee
Freely put off, and for him lastly die
Well pleased, on me let Death wreck all his rage (PL III.236-41 ).
Similarly, Spock ultimately gives up his life. At the film's end, Kirk battles Khan to regain the stolen Genesis Project. When Khan is fatally wounded in the space battle, he activates the Genesis Project to create an explosion that will destroy his own ship and the Enterprise. The Enterprise waits helplessly, unable to escape because its engines are crippled. To make the necessary repairs, Spock enters a chamber filled with deadly radiation and gives his life to save the Enterprise. As Spock lies dying in the glass-enclosed chamber and Kirk approaches to say goodbye, the camera shot showing Spock and Kirk facing each other on opposite sides of the glass creates a mirror effect emphasizing Spock's role as sacrificial doppelganger and reinforcing the God the Father/God the Son duality. 4
But Spock, like the Son, will be resurrected. Before his death, Spock performs a "Vulcan mind meld" in which he transfers his own spirit and memories into Dr. McCoy's mind. McCoy, as the vessel for Spock's spirit, becomes a Holy Spirit figure. McCoy carries Spock's spirit until Spock is bodily resurrected in the film sequel Star Trek III.
In his relationship with Spock, however, Kirk resembles not only the divine Father but also the mortal Adam. Just as Adam's fall forces him to confront the curse of death, a curse that is lifted by the Son's sacrifice, Kirk's fiftieth birthday in Star Trek II forces him to recognize his own mortality, a recognition that is transformed into a liberating experience by Spock's demise. But in both cases, confrontation with human mortality initially brings despair and alienation. Adam is alienated from God, and the human race is condemned to hell; Kirk feels "old-- worn out" (Star Trek II) and is condemned to relinquish his adventurous lifestyle and his "paradise" aboard the Enterprise as its commander. 5 He feels exiled from active command, confined by his age to the executive position of Admiral. "Galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young," he despondently remarks (Star Trek II).
According to Barbara Devereaux, Kirk is the "Promethean" hero, accustomed to conquest, determined to defy his own finitude and steal immortality from the gods (17). 6 He perceives death as an ultimate defeat which he cannot accept. Kirk admits, "I've never faced death. . . . I've cheated death, tricked my way out of death, and patted myself on the back for my own ingenuity" (Star Trek II). Even as a young cadet at command school, when he took the Kobayashi Maru test, a no-win battle simulation intended as a trial of character for cadets, Kirk cheated and reprogrammed the test so that he could win. His reluctance to lose reflects his reluctance to confront death.
Kirk's despair when forced to concede his own mortality is mirrored in Adam's first response when the archangel Michael reveals death as the punishment attendant upon man's fall:
O miserable mankind, to what fall
Degraded, to what wretched state reserved!
Better end here unborn. Why is life giv'n
To be thus wrested from us? Rather why
Obtruded on us thus? who if we knew
What we receive, would either not accept
Life offered, or soon beg to lay it down,
Glad to be so dismissed in peace. Can thus
Th' image of God in man created once
So goodly and erect, though faulty since,
To such unsightly sufferings be debased
Under inhuman pains? (PL XI.500-11).
Adam's lament encapsulates Kirk's attitude at the opening of Star Trek II when, sitting alone in his quarters surrounded by antiques, Kirk mourns his fiftieth birthday, knowing that he is too old to command a starship ever again. Both Adam and Kirk initially consider mortality as a hopeless degradation of humanity' s once high estate.
Scenes throughout Star Trek II continue to display Kirk's unwillingness to encounter old age and death. For example, for Kirk's birthday, McCoy gives him a bottle of Romulan ale, a celebrated aphrodisiac. But the gift's youthful symbolism is negated by McCoy's second gift: a pair of antique bifocals. As Lane Roth notes, the bifocals become a symbol for Kirk's impaired spiritual vision (161); his fear of his own mortality blinds him to life's eternal continuity. Kirk accepts the bifocals with obvious reluctance and resentment, while McCoy complains that Kirk is treating his birthday "like a funeral" (Star Trek II).
Kirk's alienation from youth is further symbolized by his estrangement from his son David, one of the creators of the Genesis Project. Devotion to his starfleet career has prevented Kirk from participating in his son's life, and Kirk finally regrets his selfishness. He mournfully regards David as the image of "my life that could have been, but wasn't" (Star Trek II). When they meet for the first time, David attempts to kill Kirk, holding him responsible for Khan's theft of the Genesis Project. Kirk's relationship with his son is, therefore, an ironic reversal of his God the Father role; Kirk has become the wayward Adam separated by his egoistic behavior from David, the "creator."
But the reconciliation of Adam and his creator through the Son's sacrifice is paralleled by the reconciliation of Kirk and David through Spock's death. After Spock's funeral, David visits Kirk's quarters where Kirk is pictured reading the final pages of A Tale of Two Cities. He has laid aside the bifocals, which were shattered during his final confrontation with Khan, symbolizing, as Lane Roth attests, Kirk's changing spiritual vision resulting from Spock's death (164). He is beginning to perceive death as a part of the interminable life cycle.
David attempts to help Kirk accept his new-found insight. As sympathy overcomes David's resentment, David consoles Kirk, reminding him that "how we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life." In a reversal of their initial, hostile meeting, a death struggle in which they wrestled in an embrace of enmity, David finally embraces Kirk with love, telling him, "I'm proud, very proud, to be your son" (Star Trek II). Thus, Spock's sacrifice results in new insight for Kirk and the promise of perpetual life through reunion with his son.
In Paradise Lost, Adam's dismal vision of death is likewise converted into exaltation when he is given the promise of immortality through the Son's death and resurrection. He exclaims,
O goodness infinite, goodness immense!
That all this good of evil shall produce,
And evil turn to good; more wonderful
Than that which by creation first brought forth
Light out of darkness! (PL XII.469-73).
Thus, Adam, like Kirk, defeats his spiritual myopia to see in death a greater good.
Before they achieve the greater spiritual victory, however, both Adam and Kirk suffer defeat. Just as Satan initially defeats Adam and brings upon him the penalty of death, Khan temporarily defeats Kirk by stealing the Genesis Project and leaving Kirk stranded in an underground vault on a dead planet--"buried alive," Khan taunts. Lane Roth points out that this burial corresponds to the popular mythological motif of the hero's descent into the underworld from which he returns with new wisdom. Kirk's burial begins his enlightenment process. In the cave, Kirk is reminded of his "life that could have been" by his reunion with his former lover Carol Marcus (head of the Genesis Project) and their son David. When Kirk complains that he feels "old, worn out," Marcus offers to show him "something that'll make you feel young, as when the world was new" (Star Trek II). She takes him to the "Genesis Cave," where scientists have used the Genesis Project to create a beautiful garden from the lifeless rock. As Lane Roth attests, in this "metamorphosis of grave into womb," Kirk and Marcus become the "science fiction counterparts . . . of Adam and Eve" (164). When Spock later rescues Kirk and Marcus from their "entombment," their "resurrection" parallels the Son's redemption of Adam and Eve.
Kirk's ultimate lesson in the victory of life over death comes with Spock's decease. While Spock is dying after rescuing the Enterprise in the final battle, he tells Kirk, "I never took the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution?" (Star Trek II). Spock has taken the Kobayashi Maru in Kirk's place, and through sacrifice, has turned the no-win situation into a triumph. As the Son accepts death for Adam and saves creation, Spock confronts death for Kirk and saves the Enterprise. Spock's demise allows Kirk ultimately to accept his own mortality as part of the unending rebirth cycle.
The resurrection and redemption themes are also dominant at the conclusion of Paradise Lost. Although Satan has ensnared Adam and Eve, he has not won the war. In the final book, the archangel Michael reveals mankind's future redemption by the Son. Adam and Eve rejoice, realizing that humanity's fall provides greater opportunity for God to demonstrate His grace through the Son's death and resurrection. Thus, defeat becomes victory, and Satan's schemes are ultimately thwarted.
Khan's evil plan undergoes a similar conversion. When Khan destroys the Genesis Project, not only do Kirk and his followers escape, but also the Genesis explosion creates a beautiful new planet. Hence, in both Paradise Lost and The Wrath of Khan, the villain's destructive triumph is transformed into redemption and new life.
This paradoxical sense of renewal within loss culminates in the film's final images. At Spock's funeral, as the song "Amazing Grace" plays victoriously, Spock's coffin is launched into space toward the newly created planet. Remembering Spock's birthday gift, Kirk slightly misquotes the hero's last words from A Tale of Two Cities: "It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done. It is a far, far better resting place I go to than I have ever known." Kirk explains the quote by saying it is "something Spock was trying to tell me on my birthday." When Dr. McCoy asks Kirk how he feels, Kirk replies, "Young. I feel young" (Star Trek II). Spock's heroism has helped Kirk realize that mortality is a gateway into a greater existence.
As Spock's coffin floats peacefully toward the new planet, the sun suddenly emerges from behind the planet in a brilliant burst of light suggesting the dawn of a glorious new day. The film cuts to the planet's surface where the camera pans slowly across the sun-drenched leaves of a new forest and finally rests in a quiet grove where Spock's coffin has landed. The scene suggests a new Paradise, a new Garden of Eden where life will emerge from death.
As the camera pulls away from the planet and returns to the infinity of space, Spock's voice repeats the famous Star Trek preface:
Space--the final frontier. These are the continuing voyages of the starship Enterprise, its on-going mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before (Star Trek II).
These lines echo the themes of discovery and renewal evoked by Paradise Lost's famous conclusion. Adam and Eve are described in their departure from Paradise:
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They hand in hand with wand'ring steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way (PL XII.645-49).
The sadness of loss in this final passage is balanced by the hope and challenge of new life.
What are the broader pedagogical implications of the striking similarities between Star Trek II and Paradise Lost? First, students can see that in different cultures and through different artistic media, the human condition continues to be expressed in mythic terms. Star Trek and Paradise Lost can be compared as forms of mythology--hero stories that are psychologically symbolic of basic human problems. Both works appeal to essential human needs but in modes suited for different societies. Milton used classical epic conventions to create a Christian myth that would address the needs of seventeenth-century England, an increasingly secular society that experienced acute religious disillusionment after the downfall of the Puritan Commonwealth. The secular conventions of Greek and Roman mythology made the Christian story more palatable to the Restoration audience. The Star Trek films present the same mythos to a twentieth-century audience. The science fiction format embodies the hero myth in futuristic terms attractive to a culture obsessed with technological progress. 7 Thus, this comparison can help students examine mythology's function in expressing the fundamental human concerns that unite all cultures. 8
The Star Trek/Paradise Lost parallel also demonstrates the benefit of using other media to facilitate discussion of canonical literature; students can observe the interaction between different artistic modes. Using films as teaching supplements allows students to see how a visual/auditory medium adapts literary materials to meet its own special requirements. Students can also observe how different countries, cultures, and historical periods have reinterpreted the original literary work. Such comparisons help students focus on the process of interpretation and reveal how a text is formed and transformed by different "readings."
Finally such comparisons can bring new life to a "dead" text. When compared to the adventures of American icons such as Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, the adventures of Milton's characters can take on new interest for students and reluctant instructors. While the Star Trek comparison cannot explain specific intricacies of Milton's poetic language, it can facilitate the students' understanding of Milton's themes and story; and getting the students interested in the story is the initial step towards helping them understand the language. By giving them a parallel from twentieth-century popular culture, the instructor can make Milton's text more accessible and can demonstrate how canonical literature, which often seems irrelevant to students, continues to affect contemporary culture.
1 Spock's role as sacrificial Christ-figure becomes apparent in the film sequel. McCoy's function as healer, psychological counselor, and personal liaison between captain and crew corresponds to the Holy Spirit's function as liaison between God and the Church. Noted for his extreme emotionalism as opposed to Spock's logic, McCoy is the most "spiritual" of the three leaders. Back to text
2 Comparison of Eve and McGivers can lead students to re-evaluate possible improvements in cultural attitudes toward women from the seventeenth century to the mid-twentieth century. The 1960's Star Trek television series has garnered severe criticism for its sexist portrayal of women. While women are given professional roles (they are part of the starship's crew), they never appear in command positions. Critics have even attacked the costumes as sexist; female officers are dressed in miniskirts, but male officers are fully clothed. Furthermore, Kirk is consistently characterized as a womanizer. In "The Space Seed," for example, he treats McGivers with marked disparagement, blatantly ogling her, making belittling comments about her job as historian, intentionally mispronouncing her name, and accusing her of compromising her professional loyalties through her relationship with Khan. That Kirk's accusation is justified implies the strong similarity between Milton's sexist views and the attitudes promoted by the original Star Trek. The new Star Trek television shows and movies have attempted to redeem the series from its sexist reputation. For example, Star Trek II opens with a female cadet commanding the Enterprise in a test simulation, Star Trek: The Next Generation portrays female captains, admirals, and medical officers, and the most recent Star Trek series, Star Trek: Voyager, features a female starship captain. Back
3 Khan approaches McGivers on physical and emotional levels, entirely ignoring her intellectual capacities. When she attempts to question him as a historical subject, he capitalizes on her fascination with historical heroes as a means of seducing her. Avoiding her official questions, he praises her beauty, inducing her to wear her hair in a less professional style (he calls it "soft" and "natural"). Khan characterizes McGivers as Milton does Eve-- the creature of "softness" and "sweet attractive grace" rather than intellectual prowess. Interestingly, Satan seduces Eve, in part, by appealing to her desire for intellectual superiority, a desire that in Milton's view is directly contrary to God's natural order. Also, Eve lacks the intellectual capacity to resist Satan; she needs the help of Adam, who is "for contemplation . . . formed." Back
4 For additional comments on Spock as Christ figure and Kirk's sacrificial doppelganger, see Roth 160-61 and Selley 101. Back
5 Throughout the Star Trek series, Kirk relentlessly disparages the traditional ideal of paradise, portraying it as a state of complacent stagnation that thwarts the human desire for challenge. Kirk defines true paradise as unending struggle and progress. Thus, when deprived of the challenge of space exploration, he has lost his "paradise" and views himself as "fallen." See further examination of Kirk's definition of paradise in Devereaux 12-13 and Nancy E. James, "Two Sides of Paradise: The Eden Myth According to Kirk and Spock," in Spectrum of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Sixth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, ed., David Palumbo (New York: Greenwood P, 1988), 219-23. For treatment of Kirk as an Adam figure, see Selley. She characterizes Kirk as the "American Adamic hero" (93), who combines "prelapsarian virtue" with "postlapsarian knowledge" in meeting his challenge to explore new frontiers (100). Back
6 Kirk's "Promethean" ambition and the bitterness he suffers in Star Trek II due to his lost glory give Kirk interesting affinities with Milton's Satan as well as the fallen Adam. Back
7 Devereaux, Roth, and Selley provide in-depth treatment of Star Trek as modern myth. For comparison of Star Trek to Greek, Roman, and Egyptian myths, see C. Scott Littleton, "Some Implications of Mythology in Star Trek," in Keystone Folklore 4.1 (1989 ): 33-42. Back
8 Star Trek is also an excellent supplement for classroom discussion of classical mythology, particularly the Odysseus myth. Kirk is a fine example of the Ulyssian hero, the intrepid voyager whose remarkable cunning allows him to trick his way out of every dilemma and whose restless yearning for adventure drives him "to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" (Tennyson' s "Ulysses" ). Back
Devereaux, Barbara. "New Life, New Creation: Star Trek as Modern Myth." The Best of Trek #6. Eds. Walter Irwin and G. B. Love. New York: Signet, 1983, 11-22.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. Scott Elledge. New York: Norton , 1975.
Roth, Lane. "Death and Rebirth in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." Extrapolation. 28.2 (1987): 159-66.
Selley, April. "'I Have Been, and Ever Shall Be, Your Friend': Star Trek, The Deerslayer and the American Romance." Journal of Popular Culture. 20.1 (1986): 89-104.
"The Space Seed." Writ. Gene L. Coon and Carey Wilbur. Star Trek. Created by Gene Roddenberry. NBC. 16 Feb. 1967.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Dir. Nicholas Meyer. Paramount , 1982.
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