Paradise Lost and The Blazing World: Knowledge of Knowledge that is Best Left Unknown

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Paradise Lost and The Blazing World: Knowledge of Knowledge that is Best Left Unknown John Milton set out to write Paradise Lost in order to “justify the ways of God to men” (1.26). To achieve this grand goal, Milton relies on his reader’s capability to discover a degree of personal revelation within the text. Many scholars have noted Milton’s reliance on personal discovery throughout Paradise Lost; Stanley Eugene Fish points out that discovery operates in Paradise Lost in a way that “is analogous to that of the Mosaic Law” because it invokes a level of interaction with the reader that is able to “bring us to the righteousness of Christ” (526-7). This idea of discovery differs from genre because the reader’s personal experiences…show more content…
We see this notion of personal discovery on the part of the reader at work in Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World as well as John Milton’s Paradise Lost. In “Paradise Lost,” Milton shows his reader their shortcomings, but then demonstrates for them the proper way to contend with these shortcomings through the poem’s dialogue and action, and ultimately, it is up to the reader to learn from what he or she has experienced. The meaning of the poem, according to Stanley Eugene Fish, is “located in the reader’s experience of it,” and the form of the poem, “is the form of that experience” (527). This grandiose scheme behind the personal discovery in Paradise Lost is for no other reason than to serve as a means for John Milton to justify the ways of God to mankind (Milton 1.26). All who read Paradise Lost undoubtedly encounter these experiences; however, the degree to which each reader progresses towards a greater understanding of God’s ways is based on the degree of personal relevance that each individual reader finds with the text. In this way, the reader’s progress in not a linear progression, but rather a cyclic and continuous rediscovery through interaction with the text (Fish 526-36). Stanley Eugene Fish

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