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Lecture 5 John Milton, Paradise Lost and Milton’s Sonnets.

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1 Lecture 5 John Milton, Paradise Lost and Milton’s Sonnets

2 Part I Milton’s Life John Milton was born in London in 1608: His father, a scrivener, was a Puritan and a lover of music and literature. Old Milton, very early recognizing his son’s exceptional abilities, encouraged them by private tutoring in Italian, French, music and other subjects as well as by a day school education. Thus Milton blossomed in the atmosphere of a home full of music and respect for learning. Then he was sent to Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he acquired a good knowledge of Latin. He defined the true aim of knowledge as making the spirit of man reach out far and wide until it fills the whole world and the space far beyond with the expansion of its divine greatness. Milton received his Master’s degree in 1632. After leaving Cambridge he retired to his father’s country house at Horton and devoted himself for six years to private study, roaming over the wide fields of classical Hebrew, Italian and English literatures, and studying science, theology and music.

3 Early poems: While in Cambridge, Milton wrote his first important work, “ On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity.” “ L”Allegro" and “ II Penseroso," the twin lyrical poems; were probably written during his years at Horton. They describe respectively the cheerful social mood and the meditative solitary mood of the poet, and their ease and lightness make them today perhaps the most generally read of his poems. Then. at the request of a friend, a musician of his time, Milton wrote" Comus," a masque in blank verse, to be set to music and performed. In 1637, Edward King, a young minister, who had been a classmate of Milton’s at college and had shared his ambition to write poetry, was drowned at sea. The college decided to publish a memorial volume and Milton was asked to contribute. His reply was "Lycidas”, an elegy. Expressing the pathos of his friend’s premature death, Milton took the occasion to attack " the corrupt clergy of the time and prophesy their ruin.

4 Areopagitica": During the stirring years of the civil war, Milton had not, of course, confined his interests or activities to the discussions of divorce. In 1644 the Presbyterians in Parliament had re-established the censorship of books before publication. This filled Milton with a noble rage. He wrote and published his best-known prose work, " Areopagitica", in the form of a speech addressed to the Houses of Parliament, in which he appealed for the freedom of the press. Throw open all the doors;, let there be light; let every man think and bring his thoughts to the light; dread not any diversities of opinion. ---This is the gist of his pamphlet. In defending the freedom of the press, Milton was fighting for a further development of the bourgeois revolution.

5 After the establishment of the Commonwealth, Milton became Latin Secretary to the Council of Foreign Affairs. It was his business to translate English despatches into Latin and foreign despatches into English. He also wrote a number of pamphlets defending the English revolution. Most well-known is his controversy with the European scholar Salmasius on the execution. Second Defence of the English People." His "Second Defence" was published in 1654. In it Milton further testifies to his loyalty to the revolution, gives an outspoken warning to Cromwell on the danger of personal dictatorship and appeals to him for the preservation of England’s liberty:

6 II. "Paradise Lost” 1." Paradise Lost" is Milton’s masterpiece. It is a long epic in 12 books, written in blank verse. The stories were taken from the Old Testament: the creation; the rebellion in Heaven of Satan and his fellow-angels; their defeat and expulsion from Heaven; the creation of the earth and of Adam and Eve; the fallen angels in hell plotting against God; Satan’s temptation of Eve; and the departure of Adam and Eve from Eden.

7 Story: The epic opens with the description of a meeting among the fallen angels. Led by the freedom-loving Satan, the rebellious angels rose against God himself, but in the battle they were finally defeated. Satan and his followers are banished from Heaven and driven into hell. But even here in hell, amidst flames and poisonous fumes, Satan and his adherents are not discouraged. Satan’s proud spirit is not subdued; he fearlessly withstands all agonies and passionately strives for victory. Satan chooses for his battlefield the most perfect of spots ever created by God-the Garden of Eden, where live the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, provided they do not eat the fruit that grows on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Satan desires to tear them away from the influence of God and make them tools in his struggle against God’s authority. God learns of his intention, however, and sends the Archangel Raphael to warn Adam and Eve of Satan’s plan. No sooner is Raphael gone than Satan assumes the shape of a serpent and appears before Eve. He persuades her to break God’s command. Eve eats an apple from the forbidden tree and plucks another one for Adam. Adam and Eve, husband and wife, are “both deprived of immortality, exiled from Paradise and doomed to an earthly life full of hardship and sufferings.

8 Theme and Characterization: the main idea of the poem is a revolt against God’s authority. In the poem God is no better than a selfish despot, seated upon a throne with a chorus of angels about him eternally singing his praises. He is cruel and unjust in his struggle against Satan HIS Archangel is a bore. His angels are silly. While the rebel Satan who rose against God and, though defeated, still sought for revenge, is the most striking character in the poem. Adam and Eve embody Milton’s belief in the powers of man. Their craving for knowledge, adds a particular significance to their characters. Satan and his followers, who freely discuss all issues in council, bear close resemblance to a republican Parliament. This alone, is sufficient to prove that Milton’s revolutionary feelings made him forsake religious orthodoxy.

9 The Image of Satan : Satan is the real hero of the poem. Like a conquered and banished giant, he remains obeyed and admired, by those who follow him down to hell. He is firmer than the rest of the angels. Though defeated, he prevails, since he has won from God the third part of his angels, and almost all the sons of Adam. Though wounded, he triumphs, for the thunder which hit upon his head left his heart invincible: Satan is the spirit questioning the authority of God. When he gets to the Garden of Eden, he can see no reason why Adam and Eve should not taste the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

10 Milton is a great stylist. He is famous for his grand style, which is the result of his life-long classical and biblical study. It is art attained by definite and conscientious rhetorical devices. For example, he likes to use Latinisms and proper names of resonance and colour to create an elevated and dignified effect. Milton has always been admired for his sublimity of thought and majesty of expression. But, in order to appreciate Milton, it is necessary to know the English language thoroughly and with a close intimacy.

11 Nine times the Space that measures Day and Night To mortal men, he with his horrid crew Lay vanquisht, rolling in the fiery Gulfe Confounded though immortal: But his doom Reserv'd him to more wrath; for now the thought Both of lost happiness and lasting pain Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes That witness'd huge affliction and dismay Mixt with obdurate pride and stedfast hate: At once as far as Angels kenn, he views The dismal Situation waste and wilde, A Dungeon horrible, on all sides round As one great Furnace flam'd, yet from those flames No light, but rather darkness visible Serv'd only to discover sights of woe, Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace

12 And rest can never dwell, hope never comes That comes to all; but torture without end Still urges, and a fiery Deluge, fed With ever-burning Sulphur unconsum'd: Such place Eternal Justice had prepar'd For those rebellious, here their Prison ordain'd In utter darkness, and their portion set As far remov'd from God and light of Heav'n As from the Center thrice to th' utmost Pole. O how unlike the place from whence they fell! There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelm'd With Floods and Whirlwinds of tempestuous fire, He soon discerns, and weltring by his side One next himself in power, and next in crime, Long after known in PALESTINE, and nam'd BEELZEBUB. To whom th' Arch-Enemy,

13 And thence in Heav'n call'd Satan, with bold words Breaking the horrid silence thus began. If thou beest he; But O how fall'n! how chang'd From him, who in the happy Realms of Light Cloth'd with transcendent brightness didst outshine Myriads though bright! If he whom mutual league, United thoughts and counsels, equal hope, And hazard in the Glorious Enterprize, Joynd with me once, now misery hath joynd In equal ruin: into what Pit thou seest From what highth fal'n, so much the stronger provd He with his Thunder: and till then who knew The force of those dire Arms? yet not for those Nor what the Potent Victor in his rage Can else inflict, do I repent, or change, Though chang'd in outward lustre; that fixt mind

14 And high disdain, from sence of injur'd merit, That with the mightiest rais'd me to contend, And to the fierce contention brought along Innumerable force of Spirits arm'd That durst dislike his reign, and me preferring, His utmost power with adverse power oppos'd In dubious Battle on the Plains of Heav'n, And shook his throne. What though the field be lost? All is not lost; the unconquerable Will, And study of revenge, immortal hate, And courage never to submit or yield: And what is else not to be overcome? That Glory never shall his wrath or might Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace

15 With suppliant knee, and deifie his power Who from the terrour of this Arm so late Doubted his Empire, that were low indeed, That were an ignominy and shame beneath This downfall; since by Fate the strength of Gods And this Empyreal substance cannot fail, Since through experience of this great event In Arms not worse, in foresight much advanc't, We may with more successful hope resolve To wage by force or guile eternal Warr Irreconcileable, to our grand Foe, Who now triumphs, and in th' excess of joy Sole reigning holds the Tyranny of Heav'n.

16 On his Blindness When I consider how my light is spent Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide And that one talent which is death to hide, Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest he returning chide; “Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?” I fondly ask; but Patience to prevent That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed And post o’er land ocean without rest They also serve who only stand and wait.”

17 On His Deceased Wife Methought I saw my late espoused saint Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave, Whom Jove’s great son to her glad husband gave, Rescued from death by force though pale and faint. Mine, as whom washed from spot of childbed taint, Purification in the old law did save, And such, as yet once more I trust to have Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint, Came vested all in white, pure as her mind. Her face was veiled, yet to my fancied sight, Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined So dear, as in no face with more delight. But O, as to embrace me she inclined, I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night.

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