Choosing a captain back for Egypt
Milton and the Restoration
in From Republic to Restoration
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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.

From Republic to Restoration

Legacies and departures

Editor: Janet Clare

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