“New Laws, New Counsels”: The Problem of Politics in Paradise Lost

  • Peter C. Herman


Treatments of Milton’s politics in Paradise Lost follow the protocols of Milton criticism set out in the first chapter in that critics generally seek to contain the problem of a republican Satan and a very monarchic God.1 One approach is to assume, as Coleridge does, that there is nothing political about the poem at all, that Milton retreated entirely from the dust and heat of earthly strife to the eternal verities of faith:2

In [Milton’s] mind itself there were purity and piety absolute; an imagination to which neither the past nor the present were interesting, except as far as they called forth and enlivened the great ideal in which and for which he lived … He was, as every truly great poet has ever been, a good man, but finding it impossible to realize his own aspirations, either in religion, or politics, or society, he gave up his heart to the living spirit and light within him, and avenged himself on the world by enriching it with this record of his own transcendent ideal.


Cultural Capital Ancient Constitution Paradise Lost Comparative Phrase Divine Origin 
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Copyright information

© Peter C. Herman 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter C. Herman
    • 1
  1. 1.San Diego State UniversityUSA

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