The purpose of this essay is to discuss John Milton’s strengths and weaknesses as a poet, writer, and thinker. It is my argument that his strongest strength is the use of descriptive words and phrases from different sources because of his sight. His weaknesses are none other than the reader’s perception. It is hard for me or anyone to discuss these attributes because they are different in each and every poem as with each and every person. What might be considered a weakness in one poem is strength in another. Though being educated in an ecclesiastical setting, Milton’s work is a type of intellectual superiority, hypothetically, and he holds it over the average person. His thought on each piece, whether it is a play or a poem (epic or not), breaks the boundaries while incorporating any type of current event or mystical reference. A reader has no choice but to question themselves whether this is a strong point or a weakness of theirs or the author.
If we had to point out to a specific strength (because there are many); then, a major literary contribution would be Milton’s use of descriptive words. His work, in a melodic sense, is almost like he was composing lyrics for Celtic music that could be heard throughout the countryside of the old British Isles. It is my opinion that this point is fueled by his being blind. This point has been overlooked in previous commentaries and considered a weakness, which it is anything but a handicap. It is common knowledge that a blind person can have senses greater than any sighted person. His description is sharper because he was able to relate vivid imagery. Many people academically recall by visualizing words on a page or facts. A blind person adapts and recalls invented images from other physical senses. Milton is recalling a visualization of his soul type senses and not words on paper. He conveyed that portrait like an image into specifically chosen words and phrases from any and every source he might have studied.
Sonnet 23 is a good example where Milton used extremely descriptive words. He chose words like “espoused saint” and “Alecestis.” Kerrigan states the word “espoused” to mean recently married. (163) The Oxford English Dictionary supports his claim. There is much debate over which wife he was referring to. This point of debate, pertaining to which wife, is not well thought through. We should assume that this poem is the imagery of a dream pertaining not to one but two of Milton’s wives who died. Alecestis is a mythological character from Euripides. She volunteers to die in the place of her husband, Admetus. She is rescued from death and returned to her husband. (163)
Mary Powell (his first wife) died in 1652. Milton’s description of her would have been from the memory of seeing her because he was not blind when he...