Secondly, there is a marked decay in the exalted poetical fervour of the previous age. In the new poetry there is more of the intellectual play of fancy than of passion and profundity. And, especially in prose, there is a matured melancholy that one is apt to associate with advancing years. Finally, in prose there is a marked increase in activity, which is an almost invariable accompaniment of a decline in poetry.
Q. 1. What was the reaction in the Age of Milton against the Elizabethan conventions?
Ans. During this period the decline from the high Elizabethan standard is apparent in several ways. Firstly, the output, especially of poetry, is much smaller, and the fashion is toward shorter poems, especially the lyric of a peculiar type.
Q. 2. Who was the literary Titan of this age?
Ans. In an age which, by comparison with the Elizabethan, produced relatively few great writers Milton stands as the one man who may claim a place among the very greatest. His prose is among the finest controversial writing in the language, and his poetic achievement has generally been considered to be second only to that of Shakespeare.
Q. 3. How will you define the Metaphysical poetry?
Ans. Dr. Johnson calls the School of Donne ‘the School of metaphysical poets’. The poets of that school had in common two things, learning with a kind of misplaced wit, and the desire to say something that has never been said before. The work of these men is characterized by the use of ordinary (“For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love”) coupled with paradoxes; elaborate canceits and abstruse terminology often drawn from the, science of the day. The poems sometimes take the form of arguments, for the Mataphysicals characteristically link intense emotion with intellectual ingenuity. In the eighteenth and e nineteenth centuries, changes in taste the Metaphysicals fashionable, but in the twentieth century, with the admiration for intellectual clarity and psychological exploration, there has been a revival of interest in their poetry.
Q. 4. Who were the Metaphysical poets?
Ans. The Metaphysical School of poetry was dominated by John Donne. Other metaphysical poets were Marvell, Cleveland, Cowley, and the religious poets Crashaw, Herbert, and Vaughan. Dryden said that Donne “too much affects the metaphysics”, meaning that he was too much given to intellectual analysis.
Q. 5. What were the chief characteristics of the Metaphysical poetry?
Ans. Firstly, Donne and his followers turned their backs scornfully on the poetic style of their elders. For diffuseness they substituted compression; the straightforward imagery and similies out of which the Elizabethans had wrought beauty, the metaphysicals replaced them by subtle and unexpected comparisons. Secondly, the metaphysical poets had originality and exercised their intellects. Their thoughts were often deep and always sincere. Finally, most of the metaphysicals are often called mystical poets. Mysticism consists in apprehension of the spiritual would; in a sense of the unity of all life: in a conviction that the spiritual world is alone the real world, and that the things of this world are mere shadows, at best symbols, of the spiritual realities.
Q. 6. Who is the modern poet who has revived the Metaphysical poetry?
Ans. T.S. Eliot has revived the Metaphysical poetry of the seventeenth century. He has presented fondness for the metaphysical conceit with its blend of emotion and intellect, as it satisfies his craving for religious and moral truth. He has adopted the metaphysical devices to picture the hollowness, disillusionment, disbelief and pessimism of the twentieth century.
Q. 7. What is the Caroline Poetry?
Ans. Adjective derived from Charles I of England (reigned 1625-1642). “Coroline” can thus be applied to anything in the period, but it is frequently limited to literature produced by the Cavalier poets, courtly writers who supported the kind against the PuritAns. Thus although the Puritan Milton wrote during the Caroline period, he was not (in this second sense) a Caroline poet. Cavalier poets, such as Richard Lovelace and Sir John Suckling, wrote chiefly lyrics of love and gallant war. Although not a courtier but a person, Robert Herrick is usually grouped with these urbane writers.
Q. 8. What do you know about Milton’s ‘Lycidas’?
Ans. It is one of Milton’s highest achievements in poetry. It is an elegy on his friend Edward King, who was drowned on a voyage to Ireland. In form, it is pastoral. The elegy has the colour and music of the best Spenserian verse, but it also possesses a majesty of epithet and a dignified intensity of passion. “Its metre is an irregular stanza-sequence and rhyme sequence of a peculiar haunting melody.”
Q. 9. What do you know about Milton’s ‘Sonnets’?
Ans. His famous Sonnets brought this Italian form of verse nearly to the point of perfection. In them he seldom wrote of love, the usual subject with his predecessors, but of patriotism, duty, music, and subjects of political interest suggested by the struggle into which England was drifting. Those best known and most frequently quoted are On His Deceased Wife, To the Nightingale, On Reaching the Age of Twentythree, The Massacre in Piedmont and On His Blindness.
Q. 10. How will you comment upon Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’?
Ans. It is Milton’s principal work (epic) and is the most Hebraic of great English poems. It paints the visions the Bible has given to Milton. At first it was divided into ten books or parts, but in the second edition it was redivided into twelve.
Q. 11. Examine ‘Paradise Lost’ as an epic.
Ans. In form it follows the strict unity of the classical epic; in theme it deals with the fall of man; but by means of introduced narratives it covers the rebellion of Lucifer in Heaven, the celestial warfare, and the expulsion of the rebels. In conception the poem is spacious and commanding; it is sumptuously adorned with all the details that Milton’s rich imagination, fed with Biblical lore, can suggest; the characters are drawn on a gigantic scale and do not lack tragic immensity; and blank verse in which the work is composed is new and wonderful.
Q. 12. It Satan the hero of the Epic, ‘Paradise Lost’?
Ans. Satan is the figure that dominates throughout the story. It is considered to be the major defect in the story of Paradise Lost. Instead of giving importance to Adam, Satan is the nucleus of the story. He dominates specially Books 1 and 11, and in a lesser degree, Books IV and IX. In fact Satan is made a heroic figure in the first two Books. He is still an Archangel though he is rotting in the hell.
Q. 13. What was the reason of the great importance of Satan in the Epic?
Ans. Milton expresses great sympathy with Satan. In fact, he is the projection of his personality. Satan, again and again, condemns the autocracy of God in Heaven. Milton was also not in favour of the autocracy of Charles I. Like Satan he was a rebel. Satan always speaks about liberty, which was lurking in the heart of Milton.
Q. 14. How will you discuss the Puritan strain in the poetry of Milton?
Ans. The Puritan strain is apparent in the choice of religious subjects, especially in the later poems; the sense of responsibility and moral exaltation; the fondness for preaching and lecturing, which in Paradise Lost is a positive weakness; the narrowness of outlook is seen in his outbursts against his opponents and finally regarding inferiority of women.
Q. 15. How will you explain the classical note in the poetry of Milton?
Ans. His classical bent is apparent in his choice of classical and semi-classical forms—the epic, the Greek tragedy, the pastoral land and the sonnet; the elaborate descriptions ail his poetry, and enormous similies in Paradise Lost, the fondness for classical allusion, which runs riot through the dignity of his style and its precision and care.
Q. 16. What is Milton’s position in English Literature?
Ans. In literature Milton occupies an important and central position. He came immediately after the Elizabethan epoch, when the Elizabethan methods were crumbling into chaos. His hand and temper were firm enough to gather into the system the wavering tendencies of poetry and to give them sureness, accuracy and variety.
Q. 17. How will you define Milton’s Sublimity or Grand style?
Ans. In speaking of the grand style of Milton it is difficult to use temperate language. No one has ever attuned English language to such mighty harmonies as Milton; whether in rhyme or in blank verse he has given us some of the noblest word-music of which it is capable. The chief characteristics of Paradise Lost may be summed up in the word sublimity. The poet’s imagination is lofty and his style grand, majestic, and sonorous. Magnificent imagery with him seems to be merely the fit and natural accompaniment and expression of magnificent ideas.
Q. 18. Appreciate Sir Thomas Browne’s ‘Religio Medici’.
Ans. It is an excellent prose piece by Sir Thomas Browne and is the author’s private journal in which he attempts to read his own mind and to defend himself from the charge of irreligion. Sir Thomas Browne begins by declaring that, though a physician, he is a Christian and a member of the Church of England, not intolerant, however, of other faiths, and has a temperament sympathetic to superstition.
Q. 19. How will you comment upon Sir Thomas Browne’s style?
Ans. Browne’s claim to fame is as a literary stylist rather than as a philosopher. He shows the ornate style of the time in its richest bloom. His diction is strongly Latinized, sometimes to the limit of obscurity and he has the scholastic habit of introducing Latin tags and references.
Q. 20. How will you make the critical appraisal of the prose of the Age of Milton?
Ans. The development of prose is carried on from the previous age. In spite of the hampering effects of the civil strife, the prose output was copious and excellent in kind. There was a notable advance in the sermon: pamphlets were abundant; and history, politics, philosophy, and miscellaneous kinds were well represented. In addition, there was a remarkable advance in prose style.
Q. 21. Make the critical appraisal of the drama of the Age of Milton?
Ans. Many things combined to oppress the drama at this time. Chief among these were the civil disturbances and the strong opposition of the Puritans. In temper the age was not dramatic. It is curious to note that Milton’s greatest work, which in the Elizabethan age would probably have been dramatic in form, took on the shape of the epic. The actual dramatic work of the period was small and unimportant; and the unequal struggle was terminated by the closing of the theatres in 1642.