Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Biberman, S. Matthew

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Beattie, Pamela

Committee Member

Beattie, Pamela

Committee Member

Stanev, Hristomir

Committee Member

Bowman, Brad

Author's Keywords

John Milton; paradise lost; education; Raphael; pedagogy; curriculum


John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) is a beautifully written epic that continues to be a stalwart text in the English literary canon, with unlimited potential for interpretation. In this dissertation I propose that Paradise Lost can be read as a pedagogical lesson for Milton’s “fit audience,” where the author implements his views on education in the context of heaven, hell, and Paradise. In the poem, Milton presents three pedagogical methodologies: first, the wrong way to knowledge is presented through Satan’s manipulations of the fallen angels and Eve; second, the divine way to knowledge is illustrated via Michael’s prophecy to Adam which seems too much for the human mind to fully comprehend; third, the right way to knowledge is showcased in the four books in the middle of the poem by Raphael’s discourse with Adam. This dissertation examines the three different pedagogies that are presented and how they relate to the state of the English educational institutions during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The argument presented here is that Milton’s ideal curriculum, as he describes it in his letter Of Education (1644), is put into action within the poem with the three archangel figures symbolically serving as different representations of the educational models: Satan representing the wrong way, Michael the nonreplicable way, and Raphael the right way through engaging and self-driven discourse, which aligns with Milton’s own curriculum.