Master of Arts
Catherine G Martin
This thesis starts from the observation that the plot of Paradise Lost is driven by changes in the moral universe. First, I attempt to trace the progression of Christian moral history by identifying distinct normative moral structures and acknowledging the gaps created by the structures' incompatibilities. Then, history is organized by looking through Thomas Kuhn's paradigmatical model of history. Kuhn's historical model, however, fragments th timeline but reveals a theological anxiety about the Continuity of moral law. I argue that continuity is restored in the poem by exhibiting the components of moral agency that Milton defines in Areopagitica. In this way, Paradise Lost justifies the differences in the moral landscape and establishes a diachronic continuity by weaving Milton's theory of moral agency into each of the successive moral paradigms.
Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Emerson, Daniel Geoffrey, "Milton's Moral History: Tracing Diachronic Continuity in Paradise Lost" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 408.