22JohnMilton - JOHN MILTON (1608-1674) Around 1640 - the...

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JOHN MILTON (1608-1674) Around 1640 - the Civil War broke out; civil unrest and reform - 40ies - 60ies. England became a Republic, but only for a short period. The execution of the monarch who was seen in traditional terms as divinely appointed. Now the comic herd beheaded him- a unique time in English history, an exception to England’s total development. It signaled the great change in English society. Milton - should be studied in close relation to the political context of the times in which he took active part. His role was both controversial and heroic. He was devoted to the idea of the Republic. He wanted England to follow the example of the Republics of the Antiquity. His political beliefs make him an interesting phenomenon in the literary world. Milton was aware of his mission, and was considered almost a prophet in English poetry. His mission and ambition was to turn people’s faces to the truth. He started preparing himself from an early age for that mission (elaborate education and hard learning). Tremendous awareness of his exclusive place in this world. His greatness is cultivated yet genuine. Milton was born in London in the family of a prosperous lawyer. Studied in Cambridge and in 1632 got his MD. Retired to Horton with his father where he studied and wrote. In 1635 he was granted a MD from the Oxford University. Consistent training how to write (apprenticeship). Early works : 1634 - “Comus” - a masque with serious moral and philosophical aspects. The moral - virtue triumphant in a world of corruption. The central character is a lady whose virtue is tested. She faces terrible odds but still she proves her virtue. According to Milton virtue has to be exposed to opposition, and proved not in seclusion but in struggle and strife. This is an allegorical story written in verse; a rather unusual masque. 1637 - “Lycidas” - elegy in the form of a pastoral, probably dedicated to the drowned poet Edward King. The pastoral figure of a shepherd. Deals with philosophical problems - what are God’s ways to the elect. An intellectual idea of the idea - artistically gifted people chosen by god for their deeds die young. Why does God allow this - Milton’s main preoccupation. A kind of a parting song for his friend. Milton was concerned how can the life of a gifted person be cut short. His own life could be interrupted in the same absurd way. Death at an early age - he himself faced such danger (being a gifted man of intellectual activity). Companion pieces: “L’ Allegro”
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This note was uploaded on 12/13/2011 for the course LITERATURE 105 taught by Professor Stevens during the Winter '11 term at Mitchell Community College.

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22JohnMilton - JOHN MILTON (1608-1674) Around 1640 - the...

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