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Lecture 7 John Milton Paradise Lost Miltons Sonnets

Part One

John Milton

1.1.John Miltons Life 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 sons 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 Christs 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 Masters degree in 1632. After leaving Cambridge he retired to his fathers 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.

1.2. Miltons Early Poems While in Cambridge, Milton wrote his first important work, On the Morning of Christs Nativity. LAllegro" 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 Miltons 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 friends premature death, Milton took the occasion to attack " the corrupt clergy of the time and prophesy their ruin.

1.3. 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.

1.4. Second Defence of the English People 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 Englands liberty.

1.5. Miltons major Works

On the Morning of Christs Nativity, Comus, Lycidas, Il Penseroso, and LAllegro. Through these poems, Milton honed his skills at writing narrative, dramatic, elegiac, philosophical, and lyrical poetry. He had built a firm poetic foundation through his intense study of languages, philosophy, and politics, and fused it with his uncanny sense of tone and diction. Even in these early poems, Miltons literary output was guided by his faith in God. Milton believed that all poetry served a social, philosophical, and religious purpose. He thought that poetry should glorify God, promote religious values, enlighten readers, and help people to become better Christians.

Paradise Lost Paradise Regained Samson Agonistes

Part Two Paradise Lost 2.1. Brief Introduction: " Paradise Lost" is Miltons 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; Satans temptation of Eve; and the departure of Adam and Eve from Eden.

2.2. The 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. Satans 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 Gods authority. God learns of his intention, however, and sends the Archangel Raphael to warn Adam and Eve of Satans plan. No sooner is Raphael gone than Satan assumes the shape of a serpent and appears before Eve. He persuades her to break Gods 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.

2.3. Theme and Characterization: the main idea of the poem is a revolt against Gods 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 Miltons 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 Miltons revolutionary feelings made him forsake religious orthodoxy.

2.4. 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.

2.5. Miltons Style 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.

2.6. Excerpt of Paradise Lost 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

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,

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

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

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.

2.7. Understanding
Milton begins his epic poem Paradise Lost with an invocation to a muse. He does this for two reasons: he believes the muse will help him write, and invoking a muse is a convention of epic poems such as Homer's Iliad and Virgil's Aeneid. He wants the muse to sing about man's first disobedience. Milton explains that his goal in the poem involves justifying the ways of God to men. He explains that God threw rebel angels out of heaven into hell, a scene which will be discussed in detail later on in the poem. The poem's action shifts to hell, where Satan and his confidante Beelzebub have just been thrown. Lying in a fiery lake, Satan and Beelzebub debate whether they should try to get revenge on God by force or guile. Beelzebub feels that God cannot be overcome, but Satan is confident that he can defeat God. Satan tells Beelzebub that "the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n." Book 1, lines 254-5 Satan God's adversary. Once one of the highest-ranking Archangels in heaven (known as 'Lucifer' there), Satan's pride and rebellion cause him to be thrown down into hell, where he rules and establishes Pandemonium. He eventually destroys Paradise by assuming the shape of a serpent and tricking Eve into eating from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. He is the father of Sin and Death.

2.8. Characters
Satan - Head of the rebellious angels who have just fallen from Heaven. As the poems antagonist, Satan is the originator of sinthe first to be ungrateful for God the Fathers blessings. He embarks on a mission to Earth that eventually leads to the fall of Adam and Eve, but also worsens his eternal punishment. His character changes throughout the poem. Satan often appears to speak rationally and persuasively, but later in the poem we see the inconsistency and irrationality of his thoughts. He can assume any form, adopting both glorious and humble shapes. Adam - The first human, the father of our race, and, along with his wife Eve, the caretaker of the Garden of Eden. Adam is grateful and obedient to God, but falls from grace when Eve convinces him to join her in the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge.

Eve - The first woman and the mother of mankind. Eve was made from a rib taken from Adams side. Because she was made from Adam and for Adam, she is subservient to him. She is also weaker than Adam, so Satan focuses his powers of temptation on her. He succeeds in getting her to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree despite Gods command. God the Father - One part of the Christian Trinity. God the Father creates the world by means of God the Son, creating Adam and Eve last. He foresees the fall of mankind through them. He does not prevent their fall, in order to preserve their free will, but he does allow his Son to atone for their sins. God the Son - Jesus Christ, the second part of the Trinity. He delivers the fatal blow to Satans forces, sending them down into Hell, before the creation of Earth. When the fall of man is predicted, He offers himself as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of mankind, so that God the Father can be both just and merciful.

Devils, Inhabiting Hell Beelzebub - Satans second-in-command. Beelzebub discusses with Satan their options after being cast into Hell, and at the debate suggests that they investigate the newly created Earth. He and Satan embody perverted reason, since they are both eloquent and rational but use their talents for wholly corrupt ends. Belial - One of the principal devils in Hell. Belial argues against further war with Heaven, but he does so because he is an embodiment of sloth and inactivity, not for any good reason. His eloquence and learning is great, and he is able to persuade many of the devils with his faulty reasoning. Mammon - A devil known in the Bible as the epitome of wealth. Mammon always walks hunched over, as if he is searching the ground for valuables. In the debate among the devils, he argues against war, seeing no profit to be gained from it. He believes Hell can be improved by mining the gems and minerals they find there. Mulciber - The devil who builds Pandemonium, Satans palace in Hell. Mulcibers character is based on a Greek mythological figure known for being a poor architect, but in Miltons poem he is one of the most productive and skilled devils in Hell.

Moloch - A rash, irrational, and murderous devil. Moloch argues in Pandemonium that the devils should engage in another full war against God and his servant angels. Sin - Satans daughter, who sprang full-formed from Satans head when he was still in Heaven. Sin has the shape of a woman above the waist, that of a serpent below, and her middle is ringed about with Hell Hounds, who periodically burrow into her womb and gnaw her entrails. She guards the gates of Hell.

Death - Satans son by his daughter, Sin. Death in turn rapes his mother, begetting the mass of beasts that torment her lower half. The relations between Death, Sin, and Satan mimic horribly those of the Holy Trinity.

Angels, Inhabiting Heaven and Earth Gabriel - One of the archangels of Heaven, who acts as a guard at the Garden of Eden. Gabriel confronts Satan after his angels find Satan whispering to Eve in the Garden. Raphael - One of the archangels in Heaven, who acts as one of Gods messengers. Raphael informs Adam of Satans plot to seduce them into sin, and also narrates the story of the fallen angels, as well as the fall of Satan. Uriel - An angel who guards the planet earth. Uriel is the angel whom Satan tricks when he is disguised as a cherub. Uriel, as a good angel and guardian, tries to correct his error by making the other angels aware of Satans presence. Abdiel - An angel who at first considers joining Satan in rebellion but argues against Satan and the rebel angels and returns to God. His character demonstrates the power of repentance. Michael - The chief of the archangels, Michael leads the angelic forces against Satan and his followers in the battle in Heaven, before the Son provides the decisive advantage. Michael also stands guard at the Gate of Heaven, and narrates the future of the world to Adam in Books XI and XII.

Part Three Miltons Sonnets

3.1. 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 mans 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 oer land ocean without rest They also serve who only stand and wait.

3.1.1. Notes 1....light is spent: This clause presents a double meaning: (a) how I spend my days, (b) how it is that my sight is used up. 2....Ere half my days: Before half my life is over. Milton was completely blind by 1652, the year he turned 44. 3....talent: See Line 3: Key to the Meaning. 4....useless: Unused. 5....therewith: By that means, by that talent; with it 6....account: Record of accomplishment; worth 7....exact: Demand, require 8....fondly: Foolishly, unwisely 9....Patience: Milton personifies patience, capitalizing it and having it speak. 10..God . . . gifts: God is sufficient unto Himself. He requires nothing outside of Himself to exist and be happy. 11. yoke: Burden, workload. 12. post: Travel.

3.1.2. Analysis "On His Blindness" is a Petrarchan sonnet, a lyric poem with fourteen lines. This type of sonnet, popularized by the Italian priest Petrarch (1304-1374), has a rhyme scheme of ABBA, ABBA, CDE, and CDE. John Milton wrote the poem in 1655. Theme God judges humans on whether they labor for Him to the best of their ability. For, as Milton says in the last line of the poem, "they also serve who only stand and wait."

Lines 3-6: Key to the Meaning Lines 3 to 6 of the poem allude to the "Parable of the Talents" in Chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew, verses 14 to 30. In this famous parable, an employer who is going away for a time gives his three servants money in proportion to their ability to increase its value. He distributes the money in talents, a unit of weight used in ancient times to establish the value of gold, silver, or any other medium used as money. Thus, a Roman might pay ten talents of gold for military supplies or seven talents of silver for a quantity of food. In the "Parable of the Talents," the employer gives the first servant five talents of silver, the second servant two talents, and the third servant one talent. After the employer returns from the trip and asks for an accounting, the first servant reports that he doubled his talents to ten and the second that he doubled his to four. Both men receive promotions. The third servant then reports that he still has only one talent, for he did nothing to increase its value. Instead, he buried it. The employer denounces him for his laziness, gives his talent to the man with ten, and casts him outside into the darkness.

Meter All the lines in the poem are in iambic pentameter. In this metric pattern, a line has five pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables, for a total of ten syllables. The first two lines of the poem illustrate this pattern: 1...........2........... 3............4............5 When I | con SID | er HOW.| my LIFE | is SPENT 1................2............ 3...............4....................4 Ere HALF | my DAYS | in THIS | dark WORLD.| and WIDE Background John Milton's eyesight began to fail in 1644. By 1652, he was totally blind. Oddly, he wrote his greatest works, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, after he became blind. Many scholars rank Milton as second only to Shakespeare in poetic ability.

Examples of Figures of Speech Alliteration: my days in this dark world and wide (line 2) Metaphor: though my soul more bent / To serve therewith my Maker (lines 3-4). The author compares his soul to his mind. Personification/Metaphor: But Patience, to prevent / That murmur, soon replies . . . (lines 8-9). Paradox: They also serve who only stand and wait.

Origin of the Sonnet Form .......The sonnet form originated in Sicily in the thirteenth Century with Giacomo da Lentino (1188-1240), a lawyer. The poetic traditions of the Provenal region of France apparently influenced him, but he wrote his poems in the Sicilian dialect of Italian. Some authorities credit another Italian, Guittone d'Arezzo (1230-1294), with originating the sonnet. The English word "sonnet" comes from the Italian word "sonetto," meaning "little song." Some early sonnets were set to music, with accompaniment provided by a lute. .......The Italian poet Petrarch (1304-1374), a Roman Catholic priest, popularized the sonnet form. Other popular Italian sonneteers were Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), Italy's most famous and most accomplished writer, and Guido Cavalcante (1255-1300). .......Petrarch's sonnets each consist of an eight-line stanza (octave) and a six-line stanza (sestet). The first stanza presents a theme, and the second stanza develops it. The rhyme scheme is as follows: (1) first stanza (octave): ABBA, ABBA; (2) second stanza (sestet): CDE, CDE (or CDC, CDC; or CDE, DCE). Sonnets written in this format by later poets came to be known as Petrarchan sonnets.

The sonnet form was introduced in England by Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547). They translated Italian sonnets into English and wrote sonnets of their own. Surrey introduced blank verse into the English language in his translation of the Aeneid of Vergil. Wyatt and Surrey sometimes replaced Petrarch's scheme of an eight-line stanza and a six-line stanza with three four-line stanzas and a two-line conclusion known as a couplet. Shakespeare adopted the latter scheme in his sonnets, and this form came to be known as the Shakespearean sonnet. .......Besides Shakespeare, well known English sonneteers in the late 1500's included Sir Philip Sydney, Samuel Daniel, and Michael Drayton. .......In Italy, England, and elsewhere between the thirteenth and early sixteenth Centuries, the most common theme of sonnets was love. Sonnets in later times also focused on religion, politics, and other concerns of the reading public.


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3.2. On His Deceased Wife Methought I saw my late espoused saint Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave, Whom Joves 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.

3.2.1. Notes

1 This sonnet was written about the year 1656, on the death of his second wife, Catharine, the daughter of Captain Woodcock of Hackney. She died in child-bed of a daughter, within a year after their marriage. Milton had now been some time totally blind. 2 'Alcestis:' see Euripides. 3 'Great son:' Hercules. 'Glad husband:' Admetus. 5 'Veil'd:' so was Alcestis.

3.2.2. Analysis
In this poem it seems that John Milton visits his deceased wife in a dream. In the last line "I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night" he is saying that as he woke from his sleep it was literally day outside but it was dark to him resembling grief and sadness in his world from the loss of his lover.