We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Development of Milton's Thought

Law, Government, and Religion

By John T. Shawcross

Publication Year: 2008

With this pioneering book, John T. Shawcross debunks a common assumption about what we see in Milton’s work: that Milton’s views remained unchanged over time. Shawcross systematically analyzes this belief in light of Milton’s vocation, social life, politics, and religion, and presents us with a Milton who, indeed, changes his mind.

The one constant in Milton’s writing and thought is that of faith in God, but the theology that underlies this unchanging faith—such as his views on the Trinity and God’s providence—develops through reflection and adverse experience, often yielding more defined ideas. Shawcross also traces the development of Milton’s concepts about political thought, attitudes toward the church, financial matters, the “people,” and gender, some of which result in complicated (and often unresolved) issues.

Shawcross’s presentation of a Milton whose thought does indeed develop and change—albeit with an unbending belief that faith and God supervene—is an essential contribution to Milton scholarship.

Published by: Duquesne University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. -

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-x

Criticism has frequently viewed John Milton as having a mind that never changed, not over time, not according to any subject, not for any reason. Unrealistic as that view is, it quite often underlies the reading of both his poetry and his...

read more

One. Milton and Constancy of Thought

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-24

Critical attitudes have long held that John Milton was unwaveringly aware of his thinking about his career and vocation, social life, government and politics, and religion in both doctrine and discipline. It has been alleged that his thinking...

read more

Two. Milton and Legal Matters

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 25-48

For the most part any legalities in reference to Milton’s biography have been relegated to chancery concerns involving loans, transference of property, and default by some of those failing to comply with required actions. Another aspect...

read more

Three. Milton the Republican

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 49-62

A major topic within Milton scholarship in recent years — indeed within most literary discussion and of such great concern in our everyday life — has been the political world. Much of the uneducated name-calling in the popular media has shown ignorance of what words like “conservative...

read more

Four. Milton, the Church, and Theology

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 63-81

Interrelated, yet separate, for all people are the external world and the internal mind. Much that we do or that occurs for us in life or that concerns us is influenced by that internal mind — our knowledge, our thoughts, our emotions...

read more

Five. Theological Concerns, Especially the Trinity

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 82-110

In the epistle prefacing De doctrina Christiana, Milton indicates that he realized he could “not depend upon the belief or judgment of others in religious questions” and that “the only authority . . . was God’s self-revelation, and accordingly...

read more

Six. Theological Concerns, the Son, and the Divine Presence

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 111-134

The most notorious theological concern that has flooded Milton scholarship is the relationship of the Son to the Father, the Son as God, leading to the Arian label for his thought and, in counter-distinction, to the positing ...

read more

Seven. Conceptual Reflections in Milton’s Poetry and Prose

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 135-158

For the reader and scholar of literature the words and images employed to communicate the meanings, experience, creation, and enjoyment of that literature are extremely important — they are the very elements constituting any reading or analysis. I have in previous chapters paid...

read more

Eight. The Three Major Poems

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 159-170

The three major poems have entered our discussion often in the previous chapters. In relation to the subject of Milton’s unchanging or changed mind the question of the dates of their composition must be considered. We can and should read a text as it is received, but we also should acknowledge...

read more

Nine. Unchanging Belief and the Changed Mind

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 171-196

The preceding chapters have demonstrated that a blanket application of the phrase “Milton’s unchanging mind” is simply wrong. Not only did the externalities of life involving thought and attitude that Milton experienced...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 197-255

Works Cited

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 256-274


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 275- 283

E-ISBN-13: 9780820705101
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820704111

Page Count: 293
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 794700842
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Development of Milton's Thought

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Milton, John, -- 1608-1674 -- Religion
  • Milton, John, -- 1608-1674 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Milton, John, 1608-1674 -- Knowledge and learning.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access