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Milton: Paradise Lost: Religious and Literary Background

14. Paradise Lost as Apology for Free Will

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we explore the position that Paradise Lost takes on the Fall. Milton thought it very important that Adam and Eve had complete free will over their actions - a view which departed from that of Augustine of Hippo. Milton emphasises this point by having several of his characters make explicit statements on man's free will: as God says in Book 3, mankind was created "sufficient to stand, but free to fall".

Course

In this course, Dr Edmund White (University of Oxford) explores the religious and literary background of Paradise Lost. This course provides an introduction to the religious culture of seventeenth-century England, and shows how this culture influenced the composition of Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost. This course falls into two halves. In the first half: we explore the principal Christian ideas that feature in Milton’s narration of the fall of Adam and Eve; in the second half, we look at the political implications of the religious ideas articulated in Paradise Lost. In both halves, we take examples from key moments of the poem, as well as from other writings by Milton and his seventeenth-century contemporaries.

Lecturer

Dr Edmund White completed his D. Phil. in English Literature at the University of Oxford in January 2014. Supervised by Sharon Achinstein, the title of his thesis was “The Concept of Discipline: Poetry, Rhetoric, and the Church in the Works of John Milton”. The main interest of his research thus far has been in the intersection between mainstream ecclesiastical politics and literature in Milton's works. Discipline, his thesis argues, is a complex concept in Milton's writing, that develops over time: whereas it denotes coercive and persuasive ecclesiastical power in his early prose, his later poetry treats the concept in terms of personal, moral piety.

His future research will seek to compare Milton’s understanding of piety in his later works with the pieties advocated by other contemporaries of different confessional persuasions: Bunyan, Baxter, Traherne, Vaughan.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

White, E. (2018, August 15). Milton: Paradise Lost: Religious and Literary Background - Paradise Lost as Apology for Free Will [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/milton-paradise-lost-religious-and-literary-background/paradise-lost-as-apology-for-free-will

MLA style

White, Edmund. "Milton: Paradise Lost: Religious and Literary Background – Paradise Lost as Apology for Free Will." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://www.massolit.io/courses/milton-paradise-lost-religious-and-literary-background/paradise-lost-as-apology-for-free-will