Poetry of revolution : the poetic representation of political conflict and transition in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Marvell’s Cromwell Poems
Thesis (MA (English Literature))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.
Seventeenth-century England witnessed a time of radical sociopolitical conflict and transition. This thesis aims to examine how two writers closely associated with this period and its controversies, John Milton and Andrew Marvell, represent events as they unfold. This thesis focuses specifically on Milton’s Paradise Lost and Marvell’s Cromwellian poems in order to show how these poets reinterpret established literary conventions and invoke traditional Puritan practices in order to explain and legitimise the precarious new dispensation of post-Civil War England. At the same time, their work produces ambiguities and tensions that threaten to undermine the very discourse that they attempt to endorse. Both poets’ work indicates an active involvement in the political embroilments of their time while retaining its aesthetic value. Therefore, these texts do not only function on an aesthetic level but also within the historical framework of political ideologies. The focus of this thesis is a discussion of the relationship between politics and poetry, with the emphasis on poetry of conflict and transition in civil society. In other words, it is not only considered how different poetic genres reflect social and political change in different ways but also how these genres in turn contribute to political rhetoric. During the English Revolution Milton and Marvell try to provide solutions for the political disturbance, even while remaining aware of the new conflicts produced in the attempt.