John Milton (1608-1674)
I. General Introduction:
John Milton is generally regarded, next to William Shakespeare, as the greatest English poet, and his
magnificent Paradise Lost is considered one of the finest epic poems in the English language.
II. Three literary periods:
1. early period: poems written in Cambridge and at Horton; 2. middle-aged period: political articles, pamphlets; 3. the period of his old age: three giant works.
III. Milton’s Works of His Early Days
Poems written in Cambridge and at Horton:
1. On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity 《基督诞生晨颂》, first important work
3. Comus 《科玛斯》a mask假面剧, in blank verse
4. Lycidas 《利西达斯》, expressing the pathos(哀颂)of his friend Edward King’s (爱德
Works of his adult years:
1. pamphlets on religious reform Of Reformation in England《论英国改革》
2. pamphlets on marriage and divorce: Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce
3. Areopagitica 《论出版自由” 》, a prose work for the freedom of the press Milton’s Revolutionary Works:
4. Defence of the English People 《为英国人民声辩》
5. The Second Defence of the English People《再为英国人民声辩》to answer Salmasius’ accusation
Milton’s Works of Old Age:
1. Paradise Lost (masterpiece)《失乐园; 2. Paradise Regained《复乐园》;3. Samson Agonistes《力
IV. Analysis of Paradise Lost:
1. Milton’s masterpiece.
2. A long epic？史诗？in 12 books.
3. taken from the Old Testament.
4. Major characters: Satan, God, Archangel, Adam, Eve…
5. It is about Satan’s rebellion against God and the expulsion(驱逐) of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
Theme and Characterization:
1. The theme of the poem is a revolt against God’s authority.
2. God: selfish despot暴君,cruel, unjust
3. Adam and Eve embody Milton’s belief in the powers of man, craving (longing) for knowledge. 4. God’s angels are foolish, resembling the court of an absolute monarch. 5. Satan is a rebel against tyranny(专制，暴行) and Satan and his followers resemble a republican
The Image of Satan:
1. Satan is the real hero of the poem.
2. He is firmer than the rest of the angels.
3. He has an invincible(战无不胜的) heart.
4. Satan remains superior in nobility and welcomes his defeat and his torments as a glory, a liberty and a joy.
5. Satan is the spirit questioning the authority of God.
6. Milton makes Satan as his own mouthpiece(代言人).
V. Brief Comment on John Milton:
A. Milton is a great revolutionary poet of the 17th century. He is also an outstanding political pamphleteer of the Revolution period. He dedicated himself to the revolutionary cause. He made a strong influence on the later English poetry. Every progressive English poet since Milton has drawn inspiration from him.
B. Milton is a great stylist. His poetry has a grand style. That is because he made a life-long study of classical and Biblical literature. His poetry is noted for sublimity of thought and majesty of expression.
C. Milton is a great master of blank verse. He is the glorious pioneer to introduce blank verse into non-dramatic poetry. He has used it as the main tool in his masterpiece Paradise Lost. His blank verse
is rich in every poetic quality and never monotonous.
D. Milton wrote the greatest epic in English literature. He made a strong influence on later English poetry.