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Milton and Toleration$
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Sharon Achinstein and Elizabeth Sauer

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199295937

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199295937.001.0001

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Toleration in Milton's Epics: A Chimera?

Toleration in Milton's Epics: A Chimera?

(p.224) 12 Toleration in Milton's Epics: A Chimera?
Milton and Toleration

Sharon Achinstein (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The chapter explores how Milton's epic poems express a vision of tolerance that is critical of secularism. Though committed to a procedural principle of toleration, the imaginative visions of tolerance in Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained are limited in scope when compared with English and Continental contemporaries. Through literary and linguistic analysis, the chapter looks to Milton's various representations of topics relevant to toleration thinkers (e.g., community, the natural world, Satan, debate, freedom of conscience, the Divine), and judges Milton's epics to be interested in freedom of thought or tolerance not as goals in themselves, but as means to an ultimate end: belief and the triumph of the invisible church.

Keywords:   Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, conscience, secularism, liberty of thought, debate, freedom of speech

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