[Milton-L] Peter Ackroyd examines Milton

HANNIBAL HAMLIN hamlin.22 at osu.edu
Sat Feb 23 16:39:58 EST 2008


One might make the analogy to the "chapel" scene in Hamlet.  To Hamlet, Claudius seems to be praying, which is why (to Johnson's horror), he doesn't kill him.  As we know, and as Claudius himself is aware, he cannot pray, since "his words fly up, his thoughts remain below."  Actually, his words aren't really praying either, but the point is that prayer requires more than outward performance (words included).  Samson seems to be praying, but Milton's "as" seems a very Spenserian conjunction here, not only ambiguous but tilted toward the negative (if he really were praying, why not say so?).

Hannibal


Hannibal Hamlin
Associate Professor of English
The Ohio State University
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----- Original Message -----
From: Sara van den Berg <vandens at slu.edu>
Date: Saturday, February 23, 2008 3:34 pm
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Peter Ackroyd examines Milton

> Thanks to Paul Miller.  However, the messenger suggests two 
> possible 
> interpretations of Samson: his eyes are "fast fixt" (1) as if he 
> is 
> praying (2) "or some great matter in his mind revolv'd."  The 
> latter 
> suggests not intense prayer but intense planning/deciding with a 
> sense 
> of the consequences.  Since the messenger emphasizes Samson's 
> (blind) 
> eyes "fast fixt," not his mouth moving, it would seem that the 
> messenger 
> is speculating that Samson either prayed silently or planned his 
> fatal 
> act. Maybe both of his interpretations are "true"; maybe there are 
> other 
> possible interpretations.  In any case, Milton does not simply 
> reiterate 
> Samson's oral prayer in Judges.
> 
> Sara van den Berg
> 
> Paul Miller wrote:
> >
> > As Sara van den Berg noted we are limited to the subjective 
> viewpoint 
> > and spacial placement of the messenger within the poem. From 
> that 
> > point of view we could speculate that the words were spoken or 
> not and 
> > this would remain an unknown within the narrative. I don't see 
> much 
> > ambiguity in the description of prayer from the messenger's 
> viewpoint.>
> > Paul Miller
> >
> > So Hills amid the Air encounterd Hills
> > Hurl'd to and fro with jaculation dire,
> > That under ground, they fought in dismal
> > shade --- Paradise Lost
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