A Look At John Milton's Work

942 words - 4 pages

At a young age, John Milton was convinced that he wasdestined for greatness. He thought that he 'might perhaps leavesomething so written to aftertimes as they should not willinglylet it die'(Text 414). For this reason he thought that his lifewas very important to himself and to others. He often wrotedirectly about himself, and he used his life experiences as rootsfor his literature. In Paradise Lost and in a sonnet entitled'On His Blindness,' Milton speaks indirectly and directly of hisloss of vision. Also in Paradise Lost, he uses the politicalsituation of his time as a base for the plot, and he incorporateselements of his own character into the character of Satan. In'On Having Arrived at the Age of Twenty-Three', he speaks plainlyabout the course of his life.In the latter part of his life, Milton lost his vision.This loss was very traumatic for him because he had not yetcompleted his mission of writing a memorable work of literature.Soon after, he continued his work with the help of his daughters.He dictated to them a sonnet he called 'On His Blindness' inwhich he asks how God expects him to do his work blind. Milton'sambitious side says that his writing talent is 'lodged with [him]useless'(Text 417). His religious side soon realizes that he is'complaining' to God and he takes it back. He discovers that Godwill not look down on him if he does not write a masterpiece. Hegranted Milton a great talent, and he expects Milton to be happy.He has to learn to do his work in a dark world. This poem wasnot the last time Milton referred to his condition in hiswriting. In book one of Paradise Lost, while invoking the Muse,Milton says 'what in me is dark illumine'(Hndout 22). He asks tobe granted the power to work through his blindness. He obviouslythinks of his blindness as a major weakness. Later in the text,he describes Hell as having 'no light, but rather darknessvisible'(Hndout 270). It is Milton's way of almost subliminallyimplying that his condition is comparable to being damned to theunderworld. His blindness was something that he constantly hadto deal with and he managed to include it in most of his works.At the prime of Milton's life, the political situation inEngland was very unsteady. Charles I was overthrown, and thePuritan dictator Oliver Cromwell installed himself as the 'LordProtector.' Being a Puritan himself, Milton supported this newgovernment, and he even held a job within it. But, Englandbecame tired of the strict Puritan rule, and Cromwell's son wasdefeated, and hastily replaced by Charles II. Everyone whosupported Cromwell and the civil war was sentenced to death.Because of his standing in the community, Milton was allowed toretire in peace. As punishment he lost everything he hadincluding his reputation. He would use the events of his life tohelp him form the story for book one...

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