Many John Milton scholars consider Milton to be a progressive writer for his time, advocating for education, adding to the Bible story of Adam and Eve for the purpose of political allegory, and even championing divorce. However, Milton’s tolerance did have its limits; Milton’s image as a forerunner of liberty from Western oppression stands in great contrast to the truth: he reinforced Western, Christian values through his work. The goals of this research project are to examine how aspects of Christianity relate to identities in Milton’s works, to place Milton’s works into the context of the seventeenth-century Western world, and to create an argument about Milton’s political use of Christian values in his works, and that argument is as follows: Though Milton attempted through his works to bring about change and is thus considered to be a progressive figure and an advocate of liberty in the seventeenth-century Western world, most of Milton’s works contradict the progressive view of Milton and instead reinforce the Western, Christian, and patriarchal values that inform his views on women, education, politics, and Christian values as well as Biblical stories. This project contextualizes and examines aspects of Christianity in relation to the aforementioned areas in five of Milton’s works, namely, Comus, Of Education, Areopagitica, Paradise Lost, and Samson Agonistes, with additional references to Milton’s The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce and The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates.
A Christian from Walnut Cove, North Carolina, Mollie Sutphin is a writer, musician, and scholar of the liberal arts. As a Salem College student, she has researched and explored the literary, creative, and historical aspects of the human experience through her English major, Creative Writing minor, and History minor. A senior pursuing secondary teacher licensure, her presence in the Salem community ranges from academic and creative ventures to student government positions and Writing Center consultantship; Mollie is a Hattie M. Strong Scholar of Education and the 2019-2020 recipient of the Rondthaler Award for poetry, and she is also currently the President of the Salem College chapter of the Student North Carolina Association of Educators, an English and Creative Writing Department Ambassador, and the Honor Council Representative for the Off-Campus Association. A Salem College Writing Center consultant for most of her college career, Mollie hopes to spread her passion for reading and writing to her future high school English Language Arts classes.