Celebrate the 350th anniversary of Milton’s Paradise Lost in 2017 with Paradise Lost – A Drama of Unintended Consequences
In an accessible exploration of one of the more testing Renaissance poems, first published in 1667, the reader is taken on a journey through Milton’s re-telling of the Genesis account of mankind’s Fall to reveal how he explores issues which confront the spiritual yearning of every generation.
Using approachable language, general readers and students are guided through Milton’s moral maze, to explore the power of human love and ambition to challenge obedience to God, the limitations inherent in human powers of reasoning and the doubtful reality of God’s grant of free will to mankind. Careful analysis of Milton’s artistry demonstrates how his intention to defend God’s response to mankind’s disobedience is subverted by his convincing characterisation of biblical figures.
Whilst Milton had supreme control over the form and structure of the poem, it was his decision to portray the protagonists as fully human characters, utilising dialogue and soliloquy in the form of a verse drama, which caused his characters to ‘turn against’ their creator. By putting forward convincing alternative arguments to God’s self justification, the protagonists appear not to cooperate with their creator’s intention, leading to unplanned and unexpected outcomes. Milton’s characters turn on their creator, producing a different yet greater outcome from the one he intended: instead of managing to ‘justify the ways of God to men’, Milton inadvertently put the case for mankind and ‘justifies the ways of men to God’. Readers will be empowered to appreciate Paradise Lost as a poem for all time in its confronting of the questions concerning our very existence.