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John Milton's Struggle With Society

Powerful Essays
John Milton's Struggle With Society

John Milton, unlike so many other authors and public figures during the English Civil War, is remarkably easy to place within a historical context. As a vocal supporter of the Commonwealth, Milton left a great deal of information and writings behind to explain precisely how he fit into 17th century England. As Secretary for Foreign Tongues, or Latin Secretary, he worked closely with many of the foremost members of the anti-monarchial regime, such as Oliver Cromwell. As politically active as he was, Milton was equally vocal on matters of religion; he was prolific in his writings against both the Catholic and Apostolic churches. Milton's beliefs and political views were diverse and unique; thus, as Andrew Milner is quoted in Thomas Corn's work, Milton was, "in fact, an Independent pure and simple" (113).

Though Milton's political, social, and religious views are made stunningly clear through an examination of the large body of evidence he left behind, it remains difficult to comprehend the significance of his major epics, including Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes. While they are undoubtedly significant as reflections on biblical stories, there seems to be a deeper significance that relates directly to Milton's political and religious beliefs. Indeed, it seems clear that Milton intended not merely to retell the biblical stories, but to infuse them with significance beyond mere religion.

In order to understand most anything about Milton, one must first understand Milton's world; one must understand the English Revolution and its historical roots. The revolution began in 1579 with the reformation parliament that formed under Henry VIII. Though parliament itself w...

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Corns, Thomas N. "'Some rousing motions': the plurality of Miltonic ideology." Literature and the English Civil War. Ed. Thomas Healy, Jonathan Sawday. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. 110-126.

Fallon, Robert Thomas. "A Second Defence: Milton's Critique of Cromwell?" Milton Studies 39 (2000): 167-83.

---. Divided Empire: Milton's Political Imagery. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.

Hill, Christopher. Milton and the English Revolution. New York: Viking, 1977.

Knoppers, Laura Lunger. Historicizing Milton: Spectacle, Power, and Poetry in Restoration England. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1994.

McAdams, James R. "The Pattern of Temptation in Paradise Regained." Milton Studies 4 (1972): 177-93.

Orgel, Stephen, and Jonathan Goldberg, eds. John Milton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.
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