Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Milton's Anti-Monarchical Stances and His Poetical, Phonetic, Rhetorical, and Theological Crafts

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Milton's Anti-Monarchical Stances and His Poetical, Phonetic, Rhetorical, and Theological Crafts

Article excerpt


While the topic of Milton's antimonarchical stances has been explored before, this research moves beyond the findings of the previous criticism to offer new insights into this issue by connecting between his antimonarchical stances and the numerous poetical, phonetic, rhetorical, and theological elements in his most celebrated masterpieces Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. This paper illumines the various implicit allusions, signs, and techniques under which Milton's political stances are veiled. It mainly explores the various allusive ways in which Milton skillfully and safely articulates his progressive anti-kingship attitude.

Key words: Milton; Antimonarchy; Rhetoric; Poetical; Phonetic; Theological; Crafts


There have been many controversial issues in interpreting John Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regain'd. Among the issues that occupied the minds of many critics were Milton's attitude towards the monarchy and the divinity of kings. If we read between the lines of these two epics, we can clearly see that he wrote them as a loud protest against the English monarch whose colonial oppression of the English nation and other nations was intolerable. In fact, with the rise of Protestantism and the powerful impact it had on individuals, people started to think about their existence and believe in the necessity of having individual autonomy. The colonial ideology of the monarch which indoctrinated in the common people the idea of the superiority and divinity of kings started to vanish- Further, the Puritans, with their theological ideologies, taught the people how to be free from the chains of 1116 kinS and ,he Roman Catholic Church. Milton was one of the important Puritan figures whose inflammatory and revolutionary writings inspired the people to seek their liberty and have new hope in a better life. Parafe lost and -Parafe Regained are pregnant with words and lmes that carry to *e people the message that they were created free from their flrst breaths-Indeed, Milton took on himself the task of ralsmS ^ "banner of llbelV md «imddy" (Lewis, 190,°. P-96)- A scrutiny of both epics would reveal how Milton appoints himself as the faithful savior of the people trough his revolutionary protest against the illegitimacy of the king's rule, he tells the English people:

Will ye submit your necks, and chuse to bend

The supple knee? ye will not, if I trust

To know ye right' or lf Ve know rour selves

Natives and Sons of Heav'n possest before

By none, and if not equal all, yet free,

Equally free; for Orders and Degrees

Jarr not with liberty, but well consist.

Who can in reason then or right assume

Monarchie over such as live by right

His equals, if in power and splendor less,

In freedome equal? or can introduce

Law and Edict on us, who without law

Erre not, much less for this to be our Lord,

And look for adoration to th' abuse

Of those Imperial Titles which assert

Our being ordain'd to govern, not to serve (Milton, P. Lost. V. 787-802).

In these lines, Milton clearly tells the king that he- the King- does not have the right to subjugate the free people. Milton encourages the people not to submit to the king and his restrictive laws. People are inspired by such intellectuals as Milton to believe that they are free-will agents, not servants to the king and his followers. Milton, who believed that monarchy was "restrictive to free thinking" (Claeys, 1989, p.202), tells them that nobody on earth has the right to control them, and he tries to create in them a sense of self-rule. This loud call for the people to break their silence reaches its zenith when Milton calls those who continue to submit to the king "a herd confused;" he sharply rebukes them:

And what the people but a herd confused,

A miscellaneous rabble, who extol

Things vulgar, and, well weighed, scarce worth the praise? …

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