Nothing to blog home about.

Milton’s Prose – The Reason of Church-Government
Monday June 30th 2008, 1:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well to begin, I have to say that I strongly prefer Milton’s poetry to his prose.  I, too, question whether I belive some of the arguments that Milton makes for The Reason of Church-Government.  For starters, Milton draws his immediate Biblical justification from the Old Testament, which while his arguments are strong, they seem to argue for the wrong religion in some ways.  The Old Testament refers to the religion and government of the Hebrew people, rather than the New Testament which focuses on the latter chosen people – Christians.  Milton’s prose in this section contains many similar themes to his poetry, often providing Biblical and mythological references, but at times it feels like his argument is hidden behind his flowery language.  Perhaps I am being too hard on Milton because I had so much difficulty reading his prose, but I do have to give him credit for his rhetoric.  His arguments and reasons for his case are sometimes convoluted but he weaves such an intricate and beautiful representation of language that I sometimes got lost in them and his original case no longer took precedence over his presentation.  He holds an almost manipulative or hypnotic element because his argument is so intelligently worded that I could almost blindly agree with him.  It was only when I stepped back and analyzed what he was actually saying that I realized the concrete points of his argument, some of which are contradictory.  I really disliked his prose because I felt like I really had to sift through his poetic language to retrieve the points he was attempting to drive.  At the same time, I suppose that is the very reason why many political figures are respected – not because of the argument but because of how the argument is presented. 

 In conclusion, I love Milton’s poetry, I feel tricked by his prose, but I have to acknowledge that he is damn convincing and good at what he does.

I also prefer Milton’s poetry to his prose but I’m not sure whether the hypnotism you speak of is really intended; I think if Milton thought he was having that effect he would be upset about it. He wants people to agree with him, of course, but somehow Milton strikes me as the kind of guy who would want people to agree with him because they found his arguments persuasive and not simply because his language held them in his sway. Maybe I’m wrong, who knows, but I think the language he uses, he uses because he finds that his argument deserves beautiful language, and not in order to pull readers under his thrall. That said, I know what you mean by being pulled into the language over the argument–I had that experience at times as well.

Comment by rachel 06.30.08 @ 7:45 pm