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Milton blindness

How do textual features combine to convey a theme of the poem?

Milton wrote extensively throughout his life, and studied literature profoundly. His

cunningness and literary techniques were observed in all of his literature. However, at the

prime of his life, his weak eyes gave as his intense work and studies caused his blindness.

As a result of this tragedy, Milton created a sonnet about his blindness. He questioned the

meaning of this tragedy, of the future, and God for his blindness within the sonnet. Even

though his whole life and work involved his eyes, he accepted this eventually. Within

Milton's sonnet about his blindness: figurative language, personification, his intent and

prosody are adopted to convey his questions and heart felt acceptance of his blindness.

Milton uses figurative language to express his grievances and discontent. He

reflects upon his life and "how my light is spent," or the time he had his sight. Milton then

expresses the feeling of the "dark world and wide" of the blind as his introduction to his

questions. He begins to question his writing that only death can take away (" talent

which is death to hide.."), "lodged... useless" within him because of his new blindness. As

a result, Milton begins to question God, "Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?" Milton

wonders as to the meaning of his blindness; Does God want him to continue to write, even

with his blindness, or what does God really mean? At first his tone seems harsh, but his

feelings are redirected as he answers his own questions in time. His last question to God,

was answered by himself as he realizes that he cannot blame God for his actions. His

figurative language from the point he begins to question, up to where he begins to answer

his own questions are full of implications of his thought. These implications must be picked

out in order to make sense of the feeling and statement Milton is trying to make.

Furthermore, Milton uses personification to express the importance of words and

values. He personifies "Patience" as if patience were a man who replies for him. Patience

is his reasoning for accepting the fact that he is blind. It is used to introduce the answer

towards his questioning, and as a change or turning point within the sonnet. As in standard

Petrarchian sonnets this change is in the 8-9 line, and a transition between problem and

solution is achieved. The problem was whether or not he should continue to write. Yet, in

line 8 the personification conveys the theme of acceptance through Patience. More or less,

Milton's patience, or a result of his patience, is telling him that God accepts whoever bears

his burdens and has no need of Man's ideas and creations. Furthermore, he states that God

is served by your own means and that there are many ways direct or indirect to serve and

satisfy God. Some serve as priests and popes, "thousands at his bidding... and post o'er

land and ocean without rest." Then there is the rest of the world who take life as it is;

others that "also serve who only stand and wait."

In addition, Milton's prosody and intent on words creates the mood and theme of

the sonnet. Words such as light has the ability to have many meanings and interpretations.

However, within this sonnet it means his life up to his blindness and his sight. "Death to

hide" plays upon the idea that in order to disappear, death is the only way to go. "My soul

more bent to serve therewith my Maker," the feeling of the necessity to serve God.

However, throughout the sonnet, a final idea is set that God is served whether you are the

priest or one "who only stand and wait." He has accepted the fact that he is blind and has

answered his own thoughts on God. Milton believes that he must make a choice to go on

with his writing or "stand and wait," as he must bear the burden and continue or stop.

In conclusion, Milton uses many literary techniques to express himself as he

confronts his feelings with blindness within this sonnet. The uses of figurative language to

introduce the dilemma and to personification for change to the solution of his problems are

effectively used to contrast the mood. His prosody and intention with words creates an

imaginative thought process and detail towards the sonnet. Overall, his techniques combine

to convey the theme of acceptance and realization. Milton has inferred that whether or not

he continues to write depends on himself and serving God.

Source: Essay UK -

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