Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lucifer Incarnate?

In his recent post, Greg claims that Lucifer was (consciously and/or unconsciously) writing autobiographically through the person of Lucifer in Paradise Lost. It's hard to miss the parallels between Milton's political tracts and Lucifer's speeches, so it's not surprising that Greg and others have come to this conclusion. However, I would argue - as I said in the comment section of Greg's post - that these parallels are, in the very least, Milton's attempt to explore how his generally virtuous rhetoric was turned to vicious ends during the Interregnum. Following this line of thought, I figured Cromwell to be the most likely counterpart to Paradise Lost's Lucifer. At present, I'm investigating the parallels between Cromwell and Lucifer. Evidence in favor of this view is already starting to stack up.

In upcoming posts, I expect I'll explore these topics further. For now, here are a few obvious parallels:
  1. The early careers of both Lucifer and Cromwell are marked by positive notoriety.
  2. Both figures proclaimed their intentions to be exclusively in the interest of liberty.
  3. While Cromwell's rhetoric may have began in earnest and Lucifer most certainly did not, both persons became more despotic than the monarchs they railed against once they gained power.
I should note that I don't think Milton intends this to be a simple Cromwell = Lucifer construct, but that he pulls extensively from Cromwell's character and career in creating Lucifer. In general, I think Lucifer (in PL) represents in aggregate those who, in one way or another, perverted the virtues that Milton espoused in his political writing.

Also, I watched an interesting biographical documentary produced by the BBC (above). If you were in class on Monday, many bits of info from the documentary will be old news, but I thought it offered some interesting detail about Cromwell as Lord Protectorate. Watch the first few minutes, and then jump to 26:00 if you don't have time for the whole thing.

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