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01142-- Write a short note on John Milton.



John Milton 1608–1674

John Milton decided early in life that he would become an important writer, a goal that he accomplished without question. Amid political upheavals and personal struggles, he produced work that places him in the company of England’s most revered poets. His crowning achievement, Paradise Lost, is widely accepted as the finest epic poem in the English language. Youthful Dreams As a youth, Milton applied himself eagerly to his studies, often reading by candlelight until the early hours of morning. In 1625, at the age of 16, he entered Christ’s College at Cambridge University. Although he was critical of the school’s rigid curriculum, he remained there for seven years, eventually earning a master’s degree in 1632. After leaving Cambridge, he continued his education independently, reading history, literature, and philosophy and writing his first eight sonnets.

A Dedicated Puritan

When civil war erupted in 1642, Milton, a critic of the monarchy, allied himself with the Puritan faction, the Roundheads, who supported Parliament over the king. During this time Milton produced very little poetry, instead writing various political tracts and pamphlets in support of a republican government. Following the execution of Charles I in 1649, a republic was established under the Puritan leadership of Oliver Cromwell. Milton was appointed to a post as one of Cromwell’s secretaries, with duties that included handling foreign correspondence and writing defenses of the actions of the Puritan leadership.

Blind Despair

The year of 1652 was one of tragedy for Milton. His wife, Mary, died shortly after giving birth to their third daughter, Deborah. Weeks later, Milton suffered the death of his infant son, John. Compounding his misery, Milton’s eyesight, weak since childhood, failed completely. It was a shattering year for a man who had dedicated his life to family, faith, and literature.

Crowning Achievement

Around 1658, shortly before the restoration of the monarchy, Milton began work on a poem he had been planning since he was 19, a great Christian epic that would “justify the ways of God to men.” Using the biblical account of the Fall of Man as his basic source, Milton dictated long sentences in rhythmic blank verse to his daughters and various assistants and friends. After five years, he completed his epic poem, Paradise Lost, achieving what many had considered utterly impossible.


Did you know that John Milton . . .
• coined the word pandemonium?
• loved the Arthurian legends and nearly based his great English epic on them?
• deeply influenced the writing of J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings trilogy?


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