lecture 19: John Milton

Commonwealth & Restoration
John Milton
Milton links the Renaissance and (post-Renaissance) Restoration which saw the greatest struggles of the 17th century.
Ambitious to make himself one of the great poets in English (like Chaucer and Spenser)
Both classical (e.g. Latin traditions) + Christian influences run through his work.

He wrote prose pamphlets on many controversial subjects: divorce, politics, education, freedom of the press, religion
He became Latin Secretary to Cromwell in the early years of the Commonwealth. After the restoration, he went into hiding and was later arrested.

“paradise Lost”
Milton he returned to writing, was now blind, but wrote Paradise Lost which was published in 12 books in 1667.
“Paradise Lost”: the major epic poem in English.
Milton uses creation, with the figures of God and Satan, Adam and Eve, and the fall of mankind as his subject.

To assert Eternal Providence
And justify the ways of God to Men.
“Paradise Lost” caused controversy as many critics and readers see Satan as the hero.
It can be read as a religious text supporting Christian ideals,
or the last great renaissance text stressing the freedom of choice of Adam and Eve as they choose the path of human knowledge and leave Garden of Eden to unknown future of all humanity.

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.

Neither Adam nor Eve is blamed for the fall (Eve eats from the forbidden tree and Adam loses the state of innocence); Satan, God, And Man are equally responsible.

A dungeon horrible, on all sides round,
As one great furnace, flamed; yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible

Soft she withdrew; and, like a Wood—Nymph light,
Betook her to the groves; but Delia’s self
In gait surpassed, and Goddess—like deport,

…Long is the way
And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.

so farewell hope and with hope farewell fear

Just are the ways of God,?
And justifiable to men;
?Unless there be who think not God at all.

‘Paradise Regained’,
In ‘Paradise Regained’, Jesus becomes an example of how to live by resisting temptation, a kind of hero for the restoration, almost a return to the ideal figure of medieval religious texts.

“Samson Agonistes”
Samson is a biblical Superhero…
Eyeless in Gaza.
In medias res.
The philistines and Delilah