Paradise Overcome A Secular Interpretation of Paradise Lost
Sammanfattning: P.B. Shelley wrote that John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost “contains within itself a philosophical refutation of that system of which, by a strange and natural antithesis, it has been a chief popular support” (394). This essay aims to continue this train of thought by showing that Paradise Lost can be viewed as a secular story, in which Satan represents a mankind that wishes to break free of the shackles of religion. This is done by applying concepts from liberal humanism, secular humanism and secularization to a close reading of the poem. First, three aspects are analyzed – God’s rule, God’s values and life on Earth after the Fall – to show that they can be interpreted in a secular way. Then, a fourth section builds upon these secular interpretations to show that the narrative can be interpreted secularly as well, starting with Satan as a representation of humanity and then explaining how other characters and events can be viewed as symbols of more abstract concepts and values relating to the process of secularization.
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