Revealing Harmony, Wisdom, and Providential Justice through Political Order in Milton’s Paradise Lost
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Through Paradise Lost and The Readie and Easie Way, Milton portrays Eden and life after the fall in a way that has profound implications for the understanding of political order. My thesis involves a series of claims about political order before and after the fall that demonstrate the harmony of political and domestic life before the fall, the legitimacy of political dissent due to the nature of the fall, and the way that God works through time to prepare the elect for his heavenly kingdom. Milton portrays prelapsarian Eden as the original source of both the oikos (household) and the polis (what Milton would call "Commonwealth"), and Eden represents the oikos and the polis in such a way that does not imply inherent discord between the two. Adam and Eve’s disobedience of God’s commandment legitimizes political dissent because their faculties of right reason have been corrupted, and Adam and Eve can act unfaithfully toward each other. The final two chapters focus on Milton's political tract, The Readie and Easie Way, and book twelve of Paradise Lost. Through these, Milton reveals how typology, prophecy, and judgment function within God’s providence for his elect, implying that the temporal unfolding of these three activities prepares the elect to fear God so that they can follow Christ as King.