Blasi – Milton’s Areopagitica

As a result of the Licensing Order of 1643, authors required Parliamentary approval for the publication of their respective texts. This order, meant to dissuade disunity, resulted in government censorship of authors, printers, and licensors, and often the punishment for violation would be imprisonment (Blasi). The widespread censorship affected John Milton in one of his writings about divorce that was censored by the government. This event could have led Milton to the creation of his Areopagitica. Milton’s Areopagitica, a criticism against Parliamentary policy, protests the need for government approval for publication.  

Milton makes a point detailing the benefits of reading texts resulting in the strengthening of the general populace that I think is extremely profound. Reading texts from authors, even if those same authors are ‘wrong’ in the eyes of society helps to build knowledge (Blasi). A population garnering knowledge is given the ability to effectively determine the works which will aid or hurt (Blasi). Parliament’s abolishment of the Licensing Order of 1643 would allow the public a much larger range of texts to read, even if some of those very texts were deemed immoral. Milton argues that the public partaking in the reading of a larger range of texts, even those immoral ones, would have greater beneficial effects than the proposed benefits of the censor laws.  

Milton also has an idea that exposure to falsity gives one a greater appreciation of the truth (Blasi). This idea works hand in hand with the prior thought about the benefits of reading immoral texts. The greater the range one partakes in their conquest of knowledge, the firmer one can be in their own personal beliefs. Through the reading of a variety of texts containing an even larger variety of ideas, one’s beliefs are tested and may alter, or become reaffirmed. Milton’s Areoopagitica protests the Parliamentary censorship of authors’ works, but also contains ideas about the benefits of partaking in the exposure to immoral texts. 

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