Changing the World in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Cavendish’s The Blazing World

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Changing the World in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Cavendish’s The Blazing World

It only takes one person or one event to change the course of the world. Eve changes the world and the course of humanity when she eats from the tree of knowledge in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. In Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World, the Empress single-handedly changes the world she rules for the worse, and then changes it back again. The message is that our worlds are not fixed; they are ever changing—fickle and subject to one event or action. Humans must realize that the actions of even one person can produce world-altering effects.

The film Pleasantville demonstrates this idea. In the film, David, an unpopular and unhappy teenager in a post-lapsarian world, idealizes the life he sees in reruns of a black and white fifties television show called Pleasantville. After a visit from a mysterious television repairman, David and his sister Jennifer are transported into the show and into the lives of the characters Bud and Mary Sue. Jennifer, now known as Mary Sue, hates her new colorless existence, and sets about to change the town of Pleasantville. Her actions and ideas lead to the introduction of passion into Pleasantville, creating a whole new world-view for these naïve citizens.

Mary Sue’s actions, at first scorned by her brother, now known as Bud, soon begin to change him, too. He leaves his unpopular, passionless existence behind, and finds the same pleasure in the discovery of passion as do the Pleasantville citizens. Mary Sue, who once scorned Bud for his love of Pleasantville’s depiction of a worry-free fifties life, now understands the virtues of that life; she begins reading and goes to college. Bud and Mary Sue chan...

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...erence in the world, but I have found that even one person not eating meat saves thousands of animals and hundreds of acres of rainforest, and prevents an immeasurable amount of environmental degradation. Besides, according to Milton, Adam and Eve were vegetarians!

Milton and Cavendish both give examples of a world being changed by the actions of one person. Interestingly, Adam and Eve’s world and the Empress’s world were perfect before they were changed. Today, our world is far from Eden or Paradise, and we are constantly bombarded with changes—sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Our responsibility, a lesson we can take from Paradise Lost and The Blazing World, is that all of our actions have an effect. We must make sure that the effect is desirable and beneficial to all of humanity, and remember that it just takes one to make the change.
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