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4/15/2019

Major Features of The age of Milton.


Generally the time-span from 1630 to 1660 is called the Age of Milton. It is actually the Puritan Age. The main literary tendencies of this time differ from those of the Elizabethan Age in
many ways. During this period, there was a decline in literary production. Metaphysical poetry developed with unexpectable variety. The development of prose was well-marked during the Age of Milton. Drama lost its grandeur and glory in this time.

The literature of the Age of Milton presents a marked difference
from the literature of the Elizabethan Age. Elizabethan literature is full of variety and diversity. It had a marked unity in spirit. It resulted from the patriotism of all classes of people and their devotion to a queen. With all her faults, the queen also tried to seek first the welfare of the nation. But under the Stuarts, all this was
changed. The kings were the open enemies of the people. The country was divided by the struggle for political and religious liberty.
Literature was also divided in spirit as the struggling political parties.

Elizabethan literature is generally inspiring. It throbs with youth, hope and vitality. It speaks of age and sadness. Even its brightest hours are followed by gloom and pessimism inseparable from the passing of old standards. Elizabethan literature is intensely romantic. Romance springs from the heart of youth and believes all things even the impossible. But in the literature of the Puritan Age (1620-1660, one looks in vain for romantic ardour. Even in the lyrics and poems, critical intellectual spirit takes its place. Whatever romance asserts itself is in form rather than in feeling. Poetry becomes a fantastic and artificial adornment of speech rather than the natural utterance of a
heart.

Note of Melancholy
The literature in the Age of Milton is marked with a note of melancholy and spiritual certainty. It is very much different from buoyancy and optimism of the Elizabethan Age. The great conceptions of the Elizabethan Age disappeared in the Age Milton. We found an ideal union between the interest of the
Renaissance and those of the Reformation in the Age of Elizabeth.
But we have in the seventeenth century the gallant but light-hearted
Cavaliers. We meet too the earnest but narrow-minded Puritans. In
the absence of great conceptions, human ambition and character
became less splendid and unified. In place of Sidney, Spenser, Marlowe and Shakespeare, we have Ben Jonson, Bacon and Donne. Exception is noticed only in the case of Milton himself.

Decline in Literary Production
There was a clear decline in literary production in the time of Milton. We obviously find the steep decline from the high Elizabethan standard. The declination was mostly due to the
influence of Puritanism. It was noticeable in both the poetry and
prose. John Donne started writing metaphysical poetry in the later part of the Age of Shakespeare. But in the Age of Milton, his poetry began to blossom. It was being written in full swing then. Crashaw, George Herbert, Vaughan and Marvell started following the tradition of Donne. They were called the metaphysical poets. They produced a kind of poetry in which conceit and learning were blended. They are usually lyrical in nature. Their work shows surprising blend of passion and thought. Metaphysical poems are full of learned imagery and striking conceits. They often reveal great psychological insight and subtlety of thought development.

Secular Poets
During the Age of Milton, there were some secular poets known as the Cavalier poets. They dealt with the subject of love. The Cavalier poets were Herrick, Carew, Lovelace and Suckling. They were masters in the art of producing love lyrics. They followed Ben Jonson in their classical restraint and concise lucidity. They were the Sons of Ben'. Their work is -simple, graceful in structure and highly polished in style. Thus we find two classes of poets in the Age of Milton. They are the Metaphysical poets and the Cavalier poets. But we cannot deny that both of them have enriched English poetry by their compositions.
Development of Prose
The development of prose was well-marked during the Age of Milton. Civil War did not hamper the flow of prose-writing. Prose was copious and excellent in kind. There was a notable advance in the sermon. Pamphlets were in profusion. History, politics, philosophy and miscellaneous kinds were well-represented. In addition, there was a remarkable advance in prose style. But declination was seriously evident in drama then. Civil War and the strong opposition of the Puritans were mainly responsible for the decline of drama. The age was also not dramatic in temper. The actual dramatic work of the period was small and unimportant. Milton himself left writing dramas. He tried to do it in
Elizabethan Age. Moreover, theatres were officially closed in 1642.

However, John Milton (1608-1674) is one of the greatest literary figures in English literature. He is not only the best poet in his age but in all times. He is a born poet. During the age of this great poet, there is a departure from the literary tradition of the
Renaissance Period. This age encourages literary freedom and wild
pleasures of this world. The liberty it allows often turns indecent.
Metaphysical poetry and gay lyrics were the main products of the age. Milton himself started writing but his great epics were written in the Restoration Period (1660-1702). The tradition of the Elizabethan drama was not found. Artificiality rather than originality became dominant

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