Title

The Destruction of Paradise: Exploring Toni Morrison?s A Mercy and John Milton?s Paradise Lost

Authors

Cassidy Merriam

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Abstract

Despite overwhelming comparisons between the work of Pulitzer Prize winning author, Toni Morrison and William Faulkner, Morrison?s work filled with many Christian motifs and concepts which enter into direct conversation with John Milton?s Paradise Lost. In her most recent novel, A Mercy, published in 2008, Morrison reexamines the ideas of creation, heaven, hell, and what it means to build a paradise. The novel is set in 1680s America where the institution of slavery corrupts any possibility for paradise. The fall of all of the characters mimics that of Milton?s Adam and Eve, yet Morrison distorts the original story as they do not fall away from God, but from their true selves. Morrison explores the meaning of mercy as a giving of oneself with no intention of personal gain, but unlike Milton, Morrison values human mercy over divine mercy as it is an act which is highly-developed, complex, and often inexplicable.

Advisor

Arth? Anthony

Department

american_studies

Support

Ford Research Endowment

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