John Milton’s Paradise In the seventeenth century, John Milton made his first poetic appearance, influencing and writing in the eighteenth century restoration literary period. Little did those around him know, he would be a prodigious hit in the world of poetry. Milton is regarded as one of the most prominent writers in the English language and as an advocate of world importance. The paradise that Milton brought to the world of poetry has influenced the works of poetry for centuries.
John Milton was more than just an English poet; he was a dramatist, essayist, historian, and a major influence in the eighteenth century restoration literary time period. From the beginning, John Milton showed great promise in becoming successful. Milton was regarded as a strong minded, independent man. Milton was viewed this way due to his strong opinions of subjects such as religion, domestic views, and world importance. Milton is compared to William Shakespeare as being one of the most influential English writers of the seventeenth/eighteenth literary time period to continue influencing writers throughout the present centuries.
Milton was immersed in literary and intellectual activity from an early age (“Essay”). John Milton wrote mainly of political and topics of world importance. He also wrote about religion, family and domestic advice (Poets. org). The early eighteenth century, in which Milton wrote was a time of great social and cultural turmoil (“MILTON’S”). Milton radicalizes liberty in his writing. Milton enjoyed writing of a religion that preaches meekness and patience. In his works, Milton wanted to inspire others to stand up for liberty. All that Milton wrote about, was tied into his everyday reality (“MILTON’S”).
The eighteenth century literary restoration time period was known as “The Barbarous ‘Years”. Mass changes took place in science and philosophy during John Milton’s time (Statement). One may conclude it was referred to as this because of the constant uncivilization. The most important issue occurring during this time was which European Power would control North America. Meanwhile, while America is still working out the kinks with their leadership differences, England was being run by King James the first. In 1605, just a few years before Milton was born, an attempt assassination was made on King James.
Therefore, King James was greatly guarded in England after this traumatic event. This event influenced many writers before Milton, as well as affected the way Milton thought as he grew into his writing era. Factual world events influenced John Milton’s work tremendously. Many of Milton’s writings were based on events and his opinion of occurrences happening around him. Milton confronted the public events of the world that hurt him most. However, much of what Milton wrote was during the Civil War. For example, in 1641, Milton published “Of Reformation Touching Church-Discipline” regarding the issues he had with the church.
Furthermore, Milton wrote “The Reason for Church Government” in 1642, this being strictly his opinion of why there should be church government. Also, Edward King, whom he studied with at Cambridge College, drowned. This influenced the major works of “Lycidas”, the poem he dedicated in Edward King’s memory (“Paradise”). Literary Movements inspired poets and writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth century and continue to inspire to this day (Lambert). Literary Movements are pieces of literature by different authors generally over the same period.
These pieces of literature are considered movements because they have similar and relative ideas in relation to another. To start with, the Amatory Fiction literary movement was an important literary movement during Milton’s time. Amatory Fiction is a type of British literature, as well as an early precursor of the romance novel. The Metaphysical Poetry was a popular literary movement during Milton’s time, however other than being marked by daring and resourceful conceits, there was nothing anyone found interesting about its writing style. Subsequently, The Augustans was a popular concept, this was a type of British literature as well.
This was produced during the reigns of Queen Anne and King George I. This is also known as Georgian Literature. Lastly, there are the Cavalier Poets. This was influenced on the Cavaliers (royalist) during the times of civil war outbreaks. John Milton was born on December 9, 1608 at 6:30 in the morning at his home on Bread Street in Cheapside, London. Milton was born into a musical and theatrical household (Campbell 1-11). He was the son of John Milton Sr. and Sarah Jeffrey Milton. It is said that John and his family”… lived in a prosperous neighborhood of merchants” (“Paradise”).
Ever since Milton could speak, he always spoke of the esteem his mother had, and how he admired her. Milton’s dad was a successful scrivener and copyist, while dabbling in real estate (Encyclopedia). The Miltons were prosperous enough that they owned a second home in the country. When Milton was twelve days old he was baptized at All Hallows Church. In the seventeenth century, baptism of children was highly encouraged to all churchgoers. All parents were originally expected to have their newborn baptized. Milton’s religion was an outgrowth of his family and later in life, it was something he chose himself (“Paradise”).
In 1617, at the age of nine, Milton entered St. Paul’s School in London (Bloom 313). When Milton attended St. Paul’s School, it was a one-room school. However, now, in 2016, St. Paul’s is a major public school. Although there are no school records of Milton’s education at St. Paul’s School, there was still personally documented proof of his attendance. All school records perished from St. Paul’s School in 1666 because of the Great Fire in London (Campbell 19). The time of Milton’s attendance, there was no education fee. Boys of St. Paul’s were required to provide their own wax candles, which at the time weren’t cheap.
Also, boys who attended were required to know English and Latin before entering (Campbell 20). It was said of Milton that, “He had also learned Latin well, was competent in Greek and Hebrew, had a smattering of French, and knew Italian well enough to write sonnets in it” (Cliffnotes). Some of Milton’s language acquisitions came from private tutors hired by his father. During his time there, he made friends with Charles Diodati. Diodati and John Milton ended up being friends for life, and later writing each other in Latin after their schooling days. Milton was a model student for others, and dedicated to his studies.
Milton came out an advanced scholar at St. Paul’s School. After leaving St. Paul’s School, Milton entered Christ’s College in 1625 and was notably successful. Christ’s College was located in Cambridge. Milton acknowledged that during his schooling years, he rarely finished hitting the books before twelve in the morning. This rigorous desire to study contributed to Milton’s blindness by straining his eyes (“Essay”). A year into college, Milton was expelled temporarily because of a conflict with his tutor, William Chappel. After this conflict, Milton was assigned a different tutor.
Shortly after, Milton was then expelled again by his new tutor, Nathaniel Tovey. Besides conflict with tutors, Milton was an exceptionally smart young man (Encyclopedia). In 1629, Milton received his Bachelor of Arts.. Also, In 1632, Milton received his Masters of Arts (Bloom 313). After seven years at Cambridge, Milton returned home to his parent’s present home in Hammersmith, London (Encyclopedia). Milton had prepared to enter the clergy: the body of all people ordained for religious duties. However, after college, Milton abandoned his idea to join priesthood and spent six years in Buckinghamshire doing a private, rigorous study.
During his private study, Milton composed a number of poems. Some of these poems were published, yet others were not (Poets. org). John Milton began writing approximately around the same time he started school in 1617. Milton had dreamed of a major poem since he was young. Milton once said that God called him to be a poet. One of Milton’s first works was “Comus, a Masque” which was not very popular in the beginning. Milton’s success in school inspired him to become a poet as well, for poetry was very popular in the early seventeenth century (“Paradise”). John Milton wrote many famed pieces of poetry. Milton is best known for Paradise Lost, widely regarded as the greatest epic poem in English” (Britannica). “Paradise Lost” was written in blank verse. It was mainly written to explain the biblical fall of man. The poem consists of ten thousand lines, all broken down into ten books. The theme of the poem is disobedience. ““Paradise Lost” is based on “… that eternal spirit who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out his seraphim, with the hallowed fire of his altar, to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases” (Bloom 2). ““Paradise Lost” is charmingly criticised in “The Spectator No. 267” by Joseph Addison.
Addison tries to justify the poem as heroic, this meaning the poem shows characteristics of being bold and dramatic. William Blake, John Dryden and Percy Bysshe Shelley, all English poets, considered “Paradise Lost” a precursor for romanticism. Yet, Samuel Johnson, English writer, dismissed “Paradise Lost” as flawed. More criticism has been devoted to Milton than any other English author, excluding William Shakespeare. “Paradise Lost” is far from being the only piece of work by Milton that was criticised as well as praised. Critics throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries upheld Milton’s achievements.
In fact, William Wordsworth, English romantic poet, hailed Milton’s libertarian ideas for writing. Matthew Arnold, English poet and crucial critic, viewed Milton as an English genius. James Russell Lowell, American romantic poet, once said, “If he (Milton) is blind, it is with excess of his light, it is a divine partiality, an overshadowing with angels’ wings. ” Harold Bloom made Milton’s poetry central to his theory of literary influence. However, T. S Eliot began attacking what he perceived as the wooden style and structure of Milton’s work. Milton was scorned by many contemporaries for his anti-clerical and anti-moralist stances.
Samuel Johnson also claimed that the poem “Lycidas” was cold and mechanical (“Essay”). During John Milton’s later life, he began to seriously develop in his writing. In 1638, just one year after his mother’s death, he began a thirteen-month tour of France and Italy. While on this tour, Milton met Galileo who inspired him greatly throughout the remainder of his life and career (Poets. org). Scholars view the “Italian Tour” as seminal in Milton’s literary development. Upon returning to England after his thirteen-month tour, Milton wrote and published “Epitaphium Damonis”. Epitaphium Damonis” was seen as Milton’s first heralding of his ambition (“Essay”). By 1639, Milton had settled down as a schoolmaster for his nephews and other children from aristocratic families (“Paradise”). During the English Civil War (1642-1651), Milton served as a secretary for foreign languages in Cromwell’s government. By this time, Milton was completely on his own earning a living. In 1642, Milton married his first wife, Mary Powell, who was the daughter of a royalist family from Oxford. A month after they were married, Mary returned to live with her family. It is unknown why she left Milton.
Soon after, Milton’s brother, Christopher announced he was a royalist (“Paradise”). “Though Christopher became a lawyer, a Royalist, and perhaps a Roman Catholic, he maintained throughout his life a cordial relationship with his older brother” (Britannica). Milton then went on to write and publish “On the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce” and “On Education and Areopagitica”. It is said of these writings, “The ideas that Milton expressed in these writings are commonplace values today, but in the 1640s, they were so radical that Milton acquired the nickname, ‘Milton the divorcer” (“Paradise”).
Sometime in 1645, Mary returned to Milton again. Although the reasoning is unclear, one can conclude she returned because King Charles the first lost the battle of Naseby and all royalists were in danger. Within a year of Mary’s return, her entire family had moved in with her and Milton. Despite all the chaos, Milton still worked diligently on his writing. In 1646, the first collection of poetry was published, known as “Poems. ” Milton and Mary had their first daughter, Anne in 1646 (“Paradise”).
It was said of Milton and Mary’s marriage after their first child, “ For the first time, the couple had a reasonably normal life and family” (Cliffnotes). Shortly after the birth of Milton’s first daughter, his father and father in-law both passed away. Milton was then left with a modest estate. In 1648, Milton was then blessed with a second daughter, Mary. In 1651, John and Mary brought their first son, John Milton Jr. into the world who was their third child. Mary, John’s first wife, died in 1652 after giving birth to their third and final daughter, Deborah (“Paradise”).
Despite Milton’s personal and physical problems, he continued to write. After the fall of Cromwell’s government, and the country, John significantly clung to his beliefs and wrote of them during this time more than ever. By 1652, John Milton was completely blind. However, Milton continued his works and duties with the help of his longtime friend, Andrew Marvell. John later married to Elizabeth Minshull, who later became his “nurse” as his health began to decline (Poets. org). It was on November 8, 1674 that John Milton passed away. Milton died at the age of sixty-six (Poets. rg).
John Toland said, “All his learned and great friends in London, not without a friendly concourse of the Vulgar”. This was said of Milton’s funeral (“Essay’). Milton’s third wife survived him, as well as his two daughters by Mary Powell. Although no one is sure of the exact diagnosis of Milton’s death, it is said that John Milton passed away due to failure of his kidneys, gout attack, or a heart attack. John and his father, John Milton Sr. , were buried near the altar in St. Giles Cripplegate. St. Giles Cripplegate is located in Fores, London (Campbell 379).