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Milton's Paradise Lost in Historical Context

Research papers on Milton's Paradise Lost can be examined in the Historical Context of the writing. The seventeenth century was a time of change in all areas of English society. Milton regarded the cumulative effect of all these changes as pandemonium. Everything was changing, but it didn't seem there was any worthwhile direction to all the change. Especially, the political and social ideals of freedom of the individual and a less authoritarian, more democratic society Milton espoused were not being pursued. Milton's Paradise Lost in Historical ContextMilton was not even able to practice his version of Protestantism, which was Puritanism, entirely free from persecution. One meaning of Pandemonium--when the word is capitalized--is Hell. Milton saw English society as a type of hell because it did not reflect the values he regarded as the highest values. Another meaning for pandemonium is a disordered, confusing, anarchic place or scene. This meaning too applies to Milton image found near the end of Book I of Paradise Lost. In general, English society was anarchic with varied political, social, and religious factions struggling for power or new status.

Milton’s “Paradise Lost” was first published in 1667. During the earlier decades of the 1600s, an English king had been beheaded and Oliver Cromwell and his forces had emerged victorious in a civil war to establish a new form of government. In 1660, Charles II, the son of the king who had been executed was restored to the throne. This Restoration did not return things to normal in England, however. The changes in England in the 1600s were not confined only to politics and government. The changes in these areas to some extent reflected the changes occurring in the broader society. In the seventeenth century, England was continuing to undergo in its way the religious changes occurring throughout all of Europe from the Protestant Reformation.

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