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Lecture

Milton 9

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Department
English (Arts)
Course
ENGL 316
Professor
Maggie Kilgour
Semester
Fall

Description
Sept 24 - why is a nice, middle class boy like Milton writing in this genre? - Thyrsis is a guide for the children - clearly defined spiritual realm and a clearly defined material world that can relate but that are not the same - sets things with relation to water - playing on the pun "the earl of Bridgewater" - also important in the figure of Sabrina - three little kids lost in the woods and trying to get home - he's going to tell a tale that "has never been heard" - there's another version of this is Paradise Lost "things yet unattempted in verse or rhyme" - the story of Comus is new: he's not a conventional god, not part of either the roman or Greek pantheon. - he's a personification of the spirit of revelry (spirit of the banquet) - Circe (turns men who show up at her island into animals in the odyssey) and Baccus are Comus' parents - Milton clearly wants to say that Comus is (56) "much like his father, but his mother more" - something effeminate about Comus - he brings things down where Thyrsis wants to bring things up, and blurs the line between genders: is it actually gender inversion? the Lady is the male (Milton, a version of Odysseus), and Comus is the female - when good people go up, they're looked after by angels, and they're purified - ie if you're good, you go up: not only spiritual, but also class and morally - Comus and potentially Milton himself are working against the conventional masque - usually a masque goes from bad (Comus) to good (Thyrsis), but this one starts with Thyrsis - highlights the similarities between the two: they both pretend to be shepherds, though they have different motives - we know that they're different because of the way that they speak: - Thyrsis speaks in iambic pentameter: blank verse; used particularly in Shakespeare, Marlowe: it's a dramatic form - useful in drama because it allows the characters to develop longer ideas - this verse form is closest to natural human speech (in English) - one of the reasons that it becomes so popular in the romantics - allows characters in soliloquy to reveal themselves - seems like it's easy, natural - Comus, on the other hand, speaks in rhyming couplet, the lines are shorter; as a sound, it's more playful. it lulls you into a trance. seems cunning and reflective, emphasizes its artificiality - when you do couplets, you're making it known that you were thinking in advance - L'Allegro and Il Penseroso have this verse form as well - Thyrsis is a figure who comes from Virgil's eclogue 7: he's the singer who loses - it's two singers, and L'Allegro. and Il Penseroso can be seen as a singing match too - Comus is light, fun and playful: like L'Allegro - Thyrsis is more like Il Penseroso - the moral issues complicate things - Comus comes out at night, Thyrsis comes out during the day - Comus also seems to mix up things by being Il Penseroso on the supernatural front - the terms of Il Penseroso and l’Allegro are no longer adequate - opening begins with these two antithetical voices, which react differently to the children - back to A&P and Milton trying to figure out what kind of poet he's going to be: he could be trying to decide whether he's going to be a court writer or not - the characters change: Comus changes first - his attire changes and he switches to iambic pentameter - "foot puns" again - she's chas
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