Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Prewriting: Milton and Cromwell

I have been intrigued by Milton's involvement in the Interregnum, both in his position in the government during it and in the way in which he was sometimes at odds with those in power (as in Areopagitica).  While Roland Barthes would argue that "the author is dead," I believe that one key looking at Paradise Lost is to consider the Interregnum, specifically looking at Oliver Cromwell.  I believe that Cromwell served as partial inspiration for Milton's portrayal of Satan, in that Cromwell was the head of a democratically-inspired rebellion against the monarchy that ultimately failed within Milton's lifetime.  Also, while Satan uses democratic ideals to inspire his fellow angels (and later demons), he ends up distorting those values to become a dictator; this is analogous to Cromwell leading a democratic civil war against the English king, only to set himself up as the "protectorate".

I am still working on this thesis and the supporting arguments.  Any suggestions that you might have are appreciated.

Some resources:

  • Areopagitica
  • Eikonclastes
  • Paradise Lost
  • Article:  "'Warring Chains of Signifiers':   Metaphoric Ambivalence and the Politics of Paradise Lost".  (link to article on JSTOR:
  • Article:  "The Art of Oblivion:  Politics of remembering and forgetting in Restoration England"


  1. Interesting that you say Cromwell was partly the reason for Milton portraying Satan as he did. I don't know too much about the Interregnum so I'm looking forward what you have to say in your essay. Sorry I couldn't be much more help and give you suggestions... haha

  2. I quite like your point about Satan's distortion of democracy, it's an interesting dichotomy with more than a few historical parallels.