The Politics of Paradise Lost

Martin Dzelzainis

in The Oxford Handbook of Milton

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697885
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

The Politics of Paradise Lost

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)



This article demonstrates aspects of the executive political culture to which John Milton belonged, and in which he was still immersed when he began sustained work on Paradise Lost towards the end of the 1650s, and suggests some ways in which it informed the poem. In doing so, it may be that a less familiar – and less congenial – image of Milton comes into view. Unlike Lipsius and Bacon, Milton was utterly averse to the idea of using violence to enforce religious belief. He was thus surprisingly at ease with a humanist ethos that tolerated violence, slavery, fraud, and falsehood. The language and the events of Defensio Secunda resonate with the politics of the 1650s.

Keywords: John Milton; Paradise Lost; executive political culture; Lipsius; Bacon; violence; slavery; fraud; falsehood

Article.  11861 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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