Susan Murley

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




David Clark




This thesis attempts to perform a deconstructive reading of Milton's
A reopagitica , and at the same time, to use the similarities and dissimilarities that
Milton's tract has with Derrida' s work in order to explore some fundamental
questions about Derrida's relationship with metaphysics, especially the metaphysical
or theological idea of origin. These questions are often approached through the
focus of the subject, or as Milton sees it, the individual, and his/her relationship to
and knowledge of God functioning as the ground for truth. The elusiveness,
instability, and fragmentation of truth as Milton describes it in Areopagitica, as well
as the unusual excesses in his figures and his logic, provoke a reading of the
pamphlet that views these instabilities and excesses as the signs of the radical and
originary "play" Derrida terms differance. However, Milton's continual attempt to
recuperate and make stable these dangerous marks of differance by grounding them
in both the self-presence of the individual and in the infinite presence of God leads
to the question of their origin. Perhaps the fundamental question which my thesis
examines is how Milton and Derrida construct interpretations, metaphysical and
deconstructive, for what Milton calls a fallen world and Derrida names writing, and
the fascinating way in which these interpretations are linked.

McMaster University Library

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