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From Republic to RestorationLegacies and Departures$
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Janet Clare

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780719089688

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719089688.001.0001

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Choosing a captain back for Egypt: Milton and the Restoration

Choosing a captain back for Egypt: Milton and the Restoration

(p.245) Chapter 12 Choosing a captain back for Egypt: Milton and the Restoration
From Republic to Restoration

Warren Chernaik

Manchester University Press

Milton as a republican viewed the restoration of kingship in 1660 with dread. Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes, like the last two books of Paradise Lost, have a specific Restoration historical context, at a time of persecution of former commonwealthsmen and religious Dissenters. In Samson Agonistes, Milton’s protagonist struggles against despair, the feeling that he has been abandoned by God, while recognizing his own responsibility for the humiliating slavery into which he has been plunged. Samson Agonistes and Paradise Regained, published in a single volume in 1671, in their different ways both concern themselves with the problems and temptations facing those who seek to serve God in a hostile, unjust society. The two works explore alternative paths for ‘the spirits of just men long opprest’: in the one case, patience, suffering, bearing ‘tribulations, injuries, insults’ courageously, not expecting redress, and in the other, violent resistance, the slaughter of one’s enemies, in an ending of Milton’s tragedy which has often puzzled and disturbed readers.

Keywords:   Milton, resistance, Dissenters, Restoration, Samson Agonistes, Paradise Regained, temptation, slavery

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