The second edition of John Milton’s The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce should be read as a document separate from the first edition. It is substantially longer, and it is buttressed heavily with “authority” brought in to supplement the argument. The argument has not changed; the tone and intent have. Milton has sharpened and coarsened the legalistic aspects of the tract. More precisely, he has shifted from proclaiming a restored freedom to emphasizing the faults of his attackers. In the process, he shifts from a portrayal of the wife as passive and rather pathetic to the wife as a shrewish usurper, in order to flatter and petition Parliament to see itself as an ally in similar projects of liberation from tyrannical custom.


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pp. 117-135
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