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John Milton Poetry: British Analysis
John Milton Essay Sample

Otherwise the collection was the only poetry of his to see print, until Paradise Lost appeared in Since its first publication, the work has continually elicited debate regarding its theological themes, political commentary, and its depiction of the fallen angel Satan who is often viewed as the protagonist of the work.

Early reception of the poetry John Dryden, an early enthusiast, in began the trend of describing Milton as the poet of the sublime. In , Patrick Hume became the first editor of Paradise Lost, providing an extensive apparatus of annotation and commentary, particularly chasing down allusions. For example in The Spectator[70]Joseph Addison wrote extensive notes, annotations, and interpretations of certain passages of Paradise Lost.

Jonathan Richardson, senior, and Jonathan Richardson, the younger, co-wrote a book of criticism. His success at the Battle of Hastings, against Harold II the last Anglo-Saxon King of England , allowed the Normans to rule over England although it took until for the country to be fully subdued because of numerous rebellions. William I was finally crowned and became King Local issues certainly caused rebellions in Tudor England as the interpretation suggests.

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Get Full Essay Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues. The Restoration After the Restoration of Charles II to the throne in , Milton was arrested as a defender of the Commonwealth, fined, and soon released.

Copying is only available for logged-in users. If you need this sample for free, we can send it to you via email Send. All Materials are Cataloged Well. We have received your request for getting a sample. An unfinished religious manifesto, De doctrina christiana , probably written by Milton, lays out many of his heterodox theological views, and was not discovered and published until Milton's key beliefs were idiosyncratic, not those of an identifiable group or faction, and often they go well beyond the orthodoxy of the time.

Their tone, however, stemmed from the Puritan emphasis on the centrality and inviolability of conscience. By the late s, Milton was a proponent of monism or animist materialism, the notion that a single material substance which is "animate, self-active, and free" composes everything in the universe: Milton's monism is most notably reflected in Paradise Lost when he has angels eat 5.

In his political writing, Milton addressed particular themes at different periods. The years —42 were dedicated to church politics and the struggle against episcopacy. After his divorce writings, Areopagitica , and a gap, he wrote in —54 in the aftermath of the execution of Charles I , and in polemic justification of the regicide and the existing Parliamentarian regime.

Then in —60 he foresaw the Restoration, and wrote to head it off. Milton's own beliefs were in some cases both unpopular and dangerous, and this was true particularly to his commitment to republicanism.

In coming centuries, Milton would be claimed as an early apostle of liberalism. A friend and ally in the pamphlet wars was Marchamont Nedham. Austin Woolrych considers that although they were quite close, there is "little real affinity, beyond a broad republicanism", between their approaches. He praised Oliver Cromwell as the Protectorate was set up; though subsequently he had major reservations.

When Cromwell seemed to be backsliding as a revolutionary, after a couple of years in power, Milton moved closer to the position of Sir Henry Vane , to whom he wrote a sonnet in John Streater, and the form of republicanism he stood for, was a fulfilment of Milton's most optimistic ideas of free speech and of public heroism [ As Richard Cromwell fell from power, he envisaged a step towards a freer republic or "free commonwealth", writing in the hope of this outcome in early Milton had argued for an awkward position, in the Ready and Easy Way , because he wanted to invoke the Good Old Cause and gain the support of the republicans, but without offering a democratic solution of any kind.

This attitude cut right across the grain of popular opinion of the time, which swung decisively behind the restoration of the Stuart monarchy that took place later in the year. Like many Renaissance artists before him, Milton attempted to integrate Christian theology with classical modes. In his early poems, the poet narrator expresses a tension between vice and virtue, the latter invariably related to Protestantism.

In Comus , Milton may make ironic use of the Caroline court masque by elevating notions of purity and virtue over the conventions of court revelry and superstition.

In his later poems, Milton's theological concerns become more explicit. His use of biblical citation was wide-ranging; Harris Fletcher, standing at the beginning of the intensification of the study of the use of scripture in Milton's work poetry and prose, in all languages Milton mastered , notes that typically Milton clipped and adapted biblical quotations to suit the purpose, giving precise chapter and verse only in texts for a more specialized readership.

As for the plenitude of Milton's quotations from scripture, Fletcher comments, "For this work, I have in all actually collated about twenty-five hundred of the five to ten thousand direct Biblical quotations which appear therein".

Milton embraced many heterodox Christian theological views. He has been accused of rejecting the Trinity , believing instead that the Son was subordinate to the Father, a position known as Arianism ; and his sympathy or curiosity was probably engaged by Socinianism: Rufus Wilmot Griswold argued that "In none of his great works is there a passage from which it can be inferred that he was an Arian; and in the very last of his writings he declares that "the doctrine of the Trinity is a plain doctrine in Scripture.

In his treatise, Of Reformation , Milton expressed his dislike for Catholicism and episcopacy, presenting Rome as a modern Babylon , and bishops as Egyptian taskmasters. These analogies conform to Milton's puritanical preference for Old Testament imagery.

He knew at least four commentaries on Genesis: Through the Interregnum , Milton often presents England, rescued from the trappings of a worldly monarchy, as an elect nation akin to the Old Testament Israel , and shows its leader, Oliver Cromwell , as a latter-day Moses.

These views were bound up in Protestant views of the Millennium , which some sects, such as the Fifth Monarchists predicted would arrive in England. Milton, however, would later criticise the "worldly" millenarian views of these and others, and expressed orthodox ideas on the prophecy of the Four Empires. The Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in began a new phase in Milton's work. The Garden of Eden may allegorically reflect Milton's view of England's recent Fall from Grace , while Samson 's blindness and captivity—mirroring Milton's own lost sight—may be a metaphor for England's blind acceptance of Charles II as king.

Illustrated by Paradise Lost is mortalism , the belief that the soul lies dormant after the body dies. Despite the Restoration of the monarchy, Milton did not lose his personal faith; Samson shows how the loss of national salvation did not necessarily preclude the salvation of the individual, while Paradise Regained expresses Milton's continuing belief in the promise of Christian salvation through Jesus Christ.

Though he may have maintained his personal faith in spite of the defeats suffered by his cause, the Dictionary of National Biography recounted how he had been alienated from the Church of England by Archbishop William Laud, and then moved similarly from the Dissenters by their denunciation of religious tolerance in England. Milton had come to stand apart from all sects, though apparently finding the Quakers most congenial. He never went to any religious services in his later years.

When a servant brought back accounts of sermons from nonconformist meetings, Milton became so sarcastic that the man at last gave up his place. Milton called in the Areopagitica for "the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties" applied, however, only to the conflicting Protestant denominations, and not to atheists, Jews, Muslims or Catholics [78].

Rather than force a man's conscience, government should recognise the persuasive force of the gospel. In August of that year, he presented his thoughts to the Westminster Assembly of Divines , which had been created by the Long Parliament to bring greater reform to the Church of England. Milton's thinking on divorce caused him considerable trouble with the authorities.

An orthodox Presbyterian view of the time was that Milton's views on divorce constituted a one-man heresy:. The fervently Presbyterian Edwards had included Milton's divorce tracts in his list in Gangraena of heretical publications that threatened the religious and moral fabric of the nation; Milton responded by mocking him as "shallow Edwards" in the satirical sonnet "On the New Forcers of Conscience under the Long Parliament", usually dated to the latter half of Even here, though, his originality is qualified: Thomas Gataker had already identified "mutual solace" as a principal goal in marriage.

Milton wrote during a period when thoughts about divorce were anything but simplistic; rather, there was active debate among thinkers and intellectuals at the time. However, Milton's basic approval of divorce within strict parameters set by the biblical witness was typical of many influential Christian intellectuals, particularly the Westminster divines.

Milton addressed the Assembly on the matter of divorce in August , [83] at a moment when the Assembly was beginning to form its opinion on the matter.

Neither the Assembly nor Parliament condemned Milton or his ideas. In fact, when the Westminster Assembly wrote the Westminster Confession of Faith they allowed for divorce 'Of Marriage and Divorce,' Chapter 24, Section 5 in cases of infidelity or abandonment.

Thus, the Christian community, at least a majority within the 'Puritan' sub-set, approved of Milton's views. Nevertheless, reaction among Puritans to Milton's views on divorce was mixed. Herbert Palmer Puritan condemned Milton in the strongest possible language. Palmer, who was a member of the Westminster Assembly , wrote:. If any plead Conscience Palmer expressed his disapproval in a sermon addressed to the Westminster Assembly. The Scottish commissioner Robert Baillie described Palmer's sermon as one "of the most Scottish and free sermons that ever I heard any where.

History was particularly important for the political class of the period, and Lewalski considers that Milton "more than most illustrates" a remark of Thomas Hobbes on the weight placed at the time on the classical Latin historical writers Tacitus , Livy , Sallust and Cicero , and their republican attitudes.

A sense of history mattered greatly to him: The course of human history, the immediate impact of the civil disorders, and his own traumatic personal life, are all regarded by Milton as typical of the predicament he describes as "the misery that has bin since Adam". Once Paradise Lost was published, Milton's stature as epic poet was immediately recognised.

He cast a formidable shadow over English poetry in the 18th and 19th centuries; he was often judged equal or superior to all other English poets, including Shakespeare.

Very early on, though, he was championed by Whigs , and decried by Tories: John Dryden , an early enthusiast, in began the trend of describing Milton as the poet of the sublime. In , Patrick Hume became the first editor of Paradise Lost , providing an extensive apparatus of annotation and commentary, particularly chasing down allusions.

In , the classical scholar Richard Bentley offered a corrected version of Paradise Lost. Christopher Ricks judges that, as critic, Bentley was both acute and wrong-headed, and "incorrigibly eccentric"; William Empson also finds Pearce to be more sympathetic to Bentley's underlying line of thought than is warranted. There was an early, partial translation of Paradise Lost into German by Theodore Haak , and based on that a standard verse translation by Ernest Gottlieb von Berge. Many enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century revered and commented on Milton's poetry and non-poetical works.

For example, in The Spectator , [98] Joseph Addison wrote extensive notes, annotations, and interpretations of certain passages of Paradise Lost. Jonathan Richardson, senior , and Jonathan Richardson, the younger, co-wrote a book of criticism. Newton's edition of Milton was a culmination of the honour bestowed upon Milton by early Enlightenment thinkers; it may also have been prompted by Richard Bentley's infamous edition, described above. William Blake considered Milton the major English poet.

Blake placed Edmund Spenser as Milton's precursor, and saw himself as Milton's poetical son. Edmund Burke was a theorist of the sublime , and he regarded Milton's description of Hell as exemplary of sublimity as an aesthetic concept.

For Burke, it was to set alongside mountain-tops, a storm at sea, and infinity. The Romantic poets valued his exploration of blank verse , but for the most part rejected his religiosity.

William Wordsworth began his sonnet "London, " with "Milton! John Keats found the yoke of Milton's style uncongenial; [] he exclaimed that "Miltonic verse cannot be written but in an artful or rather artist's humour. The Victorian age witnessed a continuation of Milton's influence, George Eliot [] and Thomas Hardy being particularly inspired by Milton's poetry and biography.

Hostile 20th-century criticism by T. Eliot and Ezra Pound did not reduce Milton's stature. Leavis, in The Common Pursuit , responded to the points made by Eliot, in particular the claim that "the study of Milton could be of no help: The problem, rather, was to escape from an influence that was so difficult to escape from because it was unrecognized, belonging, as it did, to the climate of the habitual and 'natural'.

Pullman was concerned to produce a version of Milton's poem accessible to teenagers, [] and has spoken of Milton as "our greatest public poet". Titles of a number of other well-known literary works are also derived from Milton's writings. Eliot believed that "of no other poet is it so difficult to consider the poetry simply as poetry, without our theological and political dispositions Milton's use of blank verse , in addition to his stylistic innovations such as grandiloquence of voice and vision, peculiar diction and phraseology influenced later poets.

At the time, poetic blank verse was considered distinct from its use in verse drama, and Paradise Lost was taken as a unique examplar. Milton is esteemed the parent and author of blank verse among us".

Lack of rhyme was sometimes taken as Milton's defining innovation. He himself considered the rhymeless quality of Paradise Lost to be an extension of his own personal liberty:. This neglect then of Rhime This pursuit of freedom was largely a reaction against conservative values entrenched within the rigid heroic couplet. Reaction to Milton's poetic worldview included, grudgingly, acknowledgement that of poet's resemblance to classical writers Greek and Roman poetry being unrhymed. Blank verse came to be a recognised medium for religious works and for translations of the classics.

Unrhymed lyrics like Collins ' Ode to Evening in the meter of Milton's translation of Horace 's Ode to Pyrrha were not uncommon after On the third day, Christ appears to drive Satan and his host out of Heaven. The seventh book provides an account of the creation of the universe and all living things by Christ, who forms the whole from chaos, bringing order and harmony. To Milton, the creation is consciously and intentionally harmonious and hierarchical. In book 8, Adam explains what he can recall about his own creation and asks Raphael questions about astronomy.

In book 9, Satan returns to the Garden under cover of darkness and enters the body of the serpent. The serpent approaches Eve, who has persuaded Adam to let her work apart, and tempts her to disobey God through promises of greater power. The immediate results include inordinate and ungovernable passions in both and disorder in nature. In book 10, Christ appears in the Garden to pass sentence on man, but his words hold out hope of triumph over Satan.

As he is returning to hell, Satan meets the allegorical figures Sin and Death, who are paving a broad way to link hell and the earth. His triumph before his followers in hell is eclipsed when they are transformed into serpents that greedily approach apple trees growing outside the great hall, only to discover the fruit to be bitter ashes. Adam sees the effects of sin, understanding the cause of disease, death, and erroneous choices among men.

He witnesses the flood that destroys the world and acknowledges it as just. In book 12, Michael narrates the bringing of the law through Moses, the birth of Christ, the establishment of the Church, and the history of Christianity until Judgment Day. He chose blank verse because he believed it to be the closest equivalent in English meter to the epic verse of the classics; yet the stylistic unit is not the line but rather the sentence, and, at times, the verse paragraph.

The more prominent stylistic qualities include the following: The style reveals a weaving of related images and a richly allusive texture that can be grasped only after repeated readings. Further, reading mythology as allegory, Milton freely associates mythical characters with biblical counterparts—Proserpine with Eve, Deucalion with Noah, Ceres with Christ.

Finally, the reader learns to interpret biblical characters typologically, as Milton did, where characters in the Old Testament anticipate the New—Adam, Noah, and Moses, for example, all being types of Christ. Through these poetic techniques, Milton achieves a style so complex that its interest and appeal can never be exhausted. Milton makes several assumptions about the temptation of Christ in his source, Luke 4: First, Christ does not fully understand either his mission or the role of the Messiah; second, he can be genuinely tempted; third, his withstanding temptation assures his success in the role of redeemer.

To Milton, the Book of Job represented the ideal model for the brief epic; it appears that no other poem in English or in the classics influenced the form significantly. The temptations of Christ, narrated in the four books of the poem, offer easy access to those things that Satan supposes a hero of his kind would want. Resolving to subject Christ to temptations, Satan approaches him in disguise and invites him to turn stones into bread to allay his hunger.

In rejecting these offers, Christ reveals that his kingdom is not of the world. Undeterred, Satan offers all the learning—philosophy, poetry, history—of Athens, declined by Christ as unnecessary to him and inferior to that of the Hebrews.

Satan raises a storm in the desert in the hope of terrifying Christ and transports him through the air to the pinnacle of the Temple, where he urges Christ to cast himself down and be rescued from death by God. The prophet in the wilderness denies himself, the king acknowledges no kingdom of this world, and the priest rejects the false and unnecessary learning for the true.

For his only tragedy, Samson Agonistes , Milton adapts a Greek model of the genre to a biblical episode, the story of Samson, as found in Judges Since Milton wrote the tragedy in verse 1, lines in blank verse and since he clearly states that he did not intend the work for the stage, it is usually studied as a dramatic poem. Samson Agonistes , said to be the English tragedy that most closely follows the Greek model, employs numerous Greek conventions.

Milton divides the major episodes of the play not by acts but by the choral odes, as in Greek drama. The chorus performs its usual functions—providing exposition, advising the hero, announcing arrivals, and interpreting for the audience. The tragedy opens with a despairing Samson, blind and enslaved to work in a Philistine mill, being visited on a holiday by a group of his countrymen, who form the chorus.

Dalila arrives and informs Samson that she now wishes that he would return to her and renew their marriage. Her suggestion only arouses his anger, and she leaves, satisfied that she will enjoy fame among her own people. The next visitor is the Philistine champion Harapha, a giant who has come to challenge Samson to prove his strength once again through physical combat, but Harapha discreetly leaves after Samson defies him.

At first, Samson scornfully refuses the command as impious and idolatrous, but, after an inward prompting, changes his mind and accompanies the officer to the temple.

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The greater part of John Milton’s lyric poetry was written during his residences at Cambridge () and at Horton-Hammersmith (). The work of the Cambridge period includes.

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John Milton was born in cheapside, London, in , he grew up in a wealthy family that gave Milton all the opportunity’s to be well educated and attend Cambridge University one of the most highly decorated schools. Free john milton papers, essays, and research papers.

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Free Essays from Bartleby | walked in search of jobs. This period showed the true impacts of the loneliness of man and also asked very important questions. John Milton Essay Sample. John Milton (9 December – 8 November ) also known as ‘The Renaissance poet’ was born in London on December 9, , as a son of the composer John Milton and his wife Sarah Jeffrey into a middle-class family.