Milton's Emerging View of Fame and the Heroic Life
By the writing of Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes, Milton clearly defines fame in Christian terms. His method is generally parodic; he throws into relief true fame by parodying its false varieties. Thus he makes a clear distinction between earthly fame and heavenly fame. Chapter 1 traces Milton's struggle to define fame in his early poetry. His major works are treated independently in subsequent chapters; each chapter discusses his view of fame from negative and positive aspects through concrete representations. The last chapter gives a summary of the thesis. Milton, in his early poetry, realizes and expresses the transient qualities of earthly fame. He clearly distinguishes, however, true Christian fame from the traditional concept of earthly fame in his major poetry by illustrating (1) the exemplary pattern of achieving true fame in the Son's act of faith, his ministry of redemption and (2) the parodic pattern of true fame in Satan's act of disobedience and self-glorification, his pretense as an exemplar of the worldly heroes. In the pattern of Samson's regenerative experience, Milton shows how the Son's type of act of faith resulted in ultimate fame.
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