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Literature and Linguistics (Vol. 1 No. 2); Literature and Violence (Vol. 3 Nos. 1-2)

Women, Consumption and Popular Culture (Vol. 4 No. 1); Life, Community, and Ethics (Vol. 4. No. 2)

The Making of Barbarians in Western Literature (Vol. 5 No. 1); Chaos and Fear in Contemporary British Literature (Vol. 5 No. 2)

Taiwan Cinema before Taiwan New Wave Cinema (Vol. 6 No. 1); Catastrophe and Cultural Imaginaries (Vol. 6 No. 2)

Affective Perspectives from East Asia (Vol. 9 No. 2); Longing and Belonging (Vol. 10 No. 2, produced in collaboration with the European Network for Comparative Literary Studies)

Transatlantic Literary and Cultural Relations, 1776 to the Present (Vol. 11 No. 2). 


This paper discusses Milton’s concept of apocalyptic violence, focusing on the Merkabah images in Books VI and VII of Paradise Lost. The author, inspired by Michael Lieb’s theory of the dual nature of violence—destruction and regeneration—intends to argue that the two Merkabah images can best exemplify the duality of violence. The paper first examines how violence works in apocalyptic narratives and then takes the Merkabah image in the war in heaven in Book VI of Paradise Lost as a representation of apocalyptic violence, in which justice is served. Then the author delineates the development of Milton’s apocalyptic thoughts, pointing out that Milton has relinquished radical apocalypticism by the time he composed Paradise Lost. Thus, the author contends that the war in heaven in Paradise Lost cannot be interpreted as Milton’s invocation of Christ’s intervention to terminate the Restoration. Moreover, the Merkabah image signifies divine presence that vouchsafes the implementation of violence to serve the cause of justice. The paper then demonstrates that the same chariot vision appears again in the creation scene in Book VII. Milton employed the same Merkabah image to concatenate destruction and regeneration. The “chariot of paternal deity” engaged in the war in heaven in Book VI represents destruction, and the same chariot of the Son in the creation scene in Book VII denotes regeneration. At the end of the paper, the author links the theme of destruction and regeneration to Milton’s concept of justice and mercy. Violence is used to serve the cause of justice, which, according to Milton, must be moderated by mercy.

KEY WORDS: apocalyptic violence, apocalypticism, Merkabah images, Milton, Paradise Lost, violence