Presentation on theme: "The Historical context of Paradise Lost. What is Paradise Lost? It is an epic poem written in blank verse. It was divided into 10 books when it was first."— Presentation transcript:
The Historical context of Paradise Lost
What is Paradise Lost? It is an epic poem written in blank verse. It was divided into 10 books when it was first written (now it is made up of 12 books). The story centers around two protagonists, Adam and Eve, and their expulsion from Eden. It was published in 1667 in England, although written by John Milton several years before. Milton was blind when it was written: it was transcribed for him. It is often regarded as one of the greatest works of British literature and poetry.
Milton and The English Revolution The violent English Civil War and the English Revolution occurred from 1642-1651, and Milton was heavily involved in in these conflicts, strongly opposing the monarchy and the church in favor of a Puritan Commonwealth. The conflict was chiefly between “Parliamentarians and Royalists” regarding the validity of divine right, and how much freedom a monarch should have. In 1641 Milton published Of Reformation Touching Church-Discipline in England, his first of many political publications. “The general thrust of his political writings is towards Puritan reformation in the church, and the replacement of the monarchy with a free commonwealth.”
The English Restoration In 1649, after a long power struggle, King Charles I was executed for treason. “For the next decade England had no monarch. Initially, a Commonwealth was formed and England was ruled by a republican government” “In 1653 Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector, essentially a military dictator. He was succeeded by his son Richard in 1658, but because of faction fighting and Richard's lack of popularity as a leader, the republic failed.” “Charles II, the executed monarch's son, was declared King in the Restoration of 1660.” Milton was somewhat depressed after this turn of events, as he had strongly supported the republic, and had even worked for the Oliver Cromwell. Paradise Lost was Milton’s first work after the Restoration, and he considered it divinely inspired
Why was it published so late? There was much instability during Milton’s time in England The English Civil War and the English Revolution occurred The Anglo-Dutch war of 1665 caused a paper shortage A plague, and the great fire of London disoriented the people People were perceiving religion and society as corrupt, and many started to favor Puritanism Paradise Lost was considered controversial and hostile towards the monarchy and the church: this was especially stunting at such a delicate time (after the revolution’s failure) Poets after the Restoration had less freedom, as they had to apply for a license – Thomas Tomkins, the licenser and chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury rejected Milton’s license at first because of it’s anti-monarchy stands.
How did it get published? Samuel Simmons, an English printer published Paradise Lost. – Simmons's presses were among the few unharmed by the Great Fire. – Simmon’s father had printed several of Milton's prose works. – Simmons had a reputation for printing controversial texts
What made Paradise Lost so Controversial? In general, Paradise Lost was anti-monarchy, and expressed the idea of regicide, or the killing of monarchs. Aspects in the poem parallel with the political strife in England at the time. For example, “Satan's attempts to rouse the fallen angels in Book I really are reminiscent of Milton's desire to rally support for the Cromwellian government”. Milton gives human traits to divine beings. Milton said his intent was “justify the ways of God to man” by writing it. – Milton attempted to create his own “Theodicy”, or his own explanation, mythology and moral system of Christianity. – Above all, he, like many other writers aimed to justify the presence of evil in relation to a “compassionate and good” Christian God.
Milton’s Edits Although Paradise Lost was originally printed in 1667, that version is not the one we know today. – In 1668 Milton added 14 pages, a letter from Simons the publisher, and introductory “arguments” for each book. “These things were compiled at the beginning because the type was not reset”. – In 1669 Milton’s “contract was fulfilled” when he sold his first 1300 copies – A second edition was printed in 1674, quite a few changes were made. The lengthy 7 th and 10 th books were divided into two, making a total of 12 books (This could qualify it as a “half-epic” poem) It was changed from a quarto to an octavo poem It no longer had line numbers Each argument appeared before their respective book, and not in the very beginning It included two extra poems and a portrait of Milton.
Works Cited http://www.christs.cam.ac.uk/darknessvisible/politics.html http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/intro/in dex.shtml http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/intro/in dex.shtml http://mason.gmu.edu/~ayadav/historical%20outline/overvie w.htm Paradise Lost: Overview. Timothy C. Miller.Reference Guide to English Literature. Ed. D. L. Kirkpatrick. 2 nd ed. Chicago: St. James Press, 1991. Word Count: 2028. From Literature Resource Center. Paradise Lost. Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1995. Word Count: 358. From Literature Resource Center.