restricted access Paradise Lost and the Politics of the Corporation

This essay considers the effects of corporate activity on Milton’s life and work. It analyzes how the moral certainties of Paradise Lost are expressed through mercantile metaphors, especially the corporate idea of debt and credit. It further argues that Milton considers virtue through the manner of collective organization—to be part of an equitable collective is to be virtuous and vice versa. He therefore turns to the language of the body corporate in Paradise Lost when describing angelic society. This heavenly corporation is the fulfillment of Milton’s ideas of civic virtue, a modulation of his disappointment with the republic in England into an idealized collective.