Paradise Lost: Tyranny, Liberty, Poetry
In this class we will undertake an intensive reading of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, one of the greatest poems in the English language. Milton’s epic is not only a work of literature but also of political theory and theology. How does Milton use the Biblical story of the Fall to explore questions about the nature of freedom, legitimate authority, and tyranny? How does the poem speak to these issues in Milton’s time, when England fought a civil war, established a republican government, and then restored the monarchy to the throne? How does it speak to issues in our own time? We will contextualize Paradise Lost by reading some of Milton’s political tracts—on monarchy, freedom of the press, and divorce—and those of his contemporaries.