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John Milton

John Milton

John Milton research papers illustrate that he was far more than just a great poet and author. John Milton was a philosopher with very distinct views on a variety of topics. Some of his greatest works include his philosophy on education, marriage and religion. In your research paper on John Milton, be sure to cover some of the topics you see below, such as:

  • Milton's view of heaven and hell in Paradise Lost
  • Milton's thoughts on education in Of Education
  • How Milton felt about his wife verses what he writes in Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce

John Milton's Paradise Lost was one of the great literary works of the seventeenth century. Milton also wrote several prose pieces, including a treatise titled Of Education, in which he expressed his views on the value of teaching and learning. This essay will explore the relationship of two archangels in Paradise Lost, Raphael and Michael, to Milton's views on education. It will examine the value of education as expressed in Plato's Republic as well as Milton's portrayal of education in Paradise Lost. This discussion will demonstrate that while Raphael and Michael display characteristics in accordance with aspects of both Plato and Milton's view, Raphael was the better teacher, even though his students, Adam and Eve, failed in the Garden of Eden.

In Of Education, published in 1644, Milton addressed a letter to Samuel Hartlib, who had requested a summary of Milton's views on the subject. I fact. The views expressed in this treatise are both humanistic and modern. For example, Milton defined a "complete and generous education as one which fits a man to perform justly, skillfully, and magnanimously all the offices, both public and private, of peace and war". Milton believed that in order to attain this goal, one must study ancient civilizations, including languages such as Greek and Latin. He proposes a strict academic regimen that includes reading the major works of each country's literature in its original language and last from age twelve to twenty-one. In many respects, Of Education offers a plan for educating the sons of the upper class for leadership, which is similar to Plato's plan, which includes military leadership as an essential aspect of one's adult education and service.

In Paradise Lost, Milton uses angels and otherworldly characters to reveal the relationships between man, morality, freedom and divinity. Two of these archangels, Raphael and Michael, are particularly interesting with respect to Milton's view of education. The reader in introduced to Raphael in Book V and he remains with Adam and Eve until the end of Book VII. He is distinguished by six pairs of wings that drape around him, acts as a gracious guest of Adam and Eve, and is Adam's primary teacher, providing him with answers to everything he wants to know, including details of the war in heaven and the creation.

John Milton possessed very distinct views on marriage and divorce and wrote extensively on these issues in his composition Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. Written to both the parliament and the Westminster Assembly of Divines in order to aid in church reform, Milton's position was that "the recognition of divorce with the right of remarriage for both parties; the liberalization of grounds, particularly to include incompatibility; and the removal of divorce from public jurisdiction, whether ecclesiastical or civil, to private." It appears that Milton also had a penchant for restoring dignity and liberties to men that had long been lost to tyrannies of diocese, traditions, and ignorance. This concern was found quite evidently in his Tetrachordon, "For nothing now-a-days is more degenerately forgotten, than the true dignity of Man, almost in every respect, but especially in this prime institution of Matrimony, wherein his native pre-eminence ought most to shine."

The question as to what may have precipitated such a strong position on divorce on the part of John Milton is of great speculation. His consuming concern for the restoration of manliness is most evidently from personal conflict. From this point, one can determine that his penchant for alleging that the dignity of man had suffered greatly should not be viewed as an exaggeration but merely the general threat to manliness encountered in his own situation. While the circumstances of his first marriage can be blamed largely in part to the actions of his wife Mary Powell, Milton appears to blame the corruption of medieval religion and politics also.

John Milton's marriage to Mary Powell is a bit sketchy in historical accounts but it is known that on a trip to pay a debt inherited from his father to Richard Powell near Oxford in the year 1642, Milton married Powell's oldest daughter Mary, seventeen. After six weeks of marriage, Mary asked her husband for a visit to her father's and before her return civil war broke out in England. Mary never returned and due to the current canon law, Milton could not divorce Mary without arguing that the marriage was never consummated in public court. Whether this was due to impotence, frigidity, or Mary's previous betrothal to another man, the embarrassment subjected to Milton's dignity in open court was a grave abashment to manliness.

Milton's grounds for allowing divorce by order of the church is taken from the Old Testament. God instituted marriage for the solution to man's loneliness (Genesis 2:18) and if the wife fails to remedy man's loneliness or aggravates it he should be free to divorce her and take another wife. This was a very radical position to take for the church of Milton's day.

Despite these strong views on man's prerogatives in marriage, the question of whether Milton can be classified as a misogynist is still full of conjecture. One must first realize the period of time from which Milton makes his arguments. The role of women during the 1600s was vastly different than that of today. Years of females asserting their rights was yet to come. Traditions found marriages being arranged regardless of thought for young daughters. Many a male was scorned by a woman who never wanted to get married in the first place during the era of John Milton.

I believe Milton's harsh words on divorce had more to do with the political and religious aspects that governed the laws concerning divorce. It was these laws that stripped away the male dignity by holding divorce proceedings in public court rather than conducting them in a private manner. If the public was unaware of the reasons for the divorce, the pain and embarrassment may have been significantly less.

I do not believe that John Milton was a misogynist. He merely was stating the changes that were essential to restoring dignity in unfortunate circumstances. His interpretation of the Scriptures, whether right or wrong offered satisfactory reasoning for his entire argument.

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