Essay on A Sense of Hope in Milton's Sonnet XIX

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A Sense of Hope in Milton's Sonnet XIX

John Milton's contemplative "Sonnet XIX" reveals the idea of man in adversity coming to terms with fate. Milton reflects upon the condition of his own soul in physical blindness through his ideas of service, duty, and talent in order to explore his relationship with God and his art: writing. Milton's use of diction and structure provide clues to the sonnet's interpretation and help resolve the thematic dilemma presented. The sonnet's imagery connotes multiple meanings. An examination of Milton's allusions to biblical verse and historical parallels help give important insight towards understanding the sonnet.

Milton divides this sonnet into two structural parts of iambic pentameter in
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Wigler refers to this as, "a shift in tone from egocentric concern to theocentric awareness" (Wigler 162). This is further stressed in, "They also serve who only stand and waite" (line 14). Milton may have been one of thousands speeding to meet a certain understanding of God's demands but he now realizes the legitimacy of patiently accepting one's perfect place in the present moment.

Milton grapples with the image of spent light. The image of light symbolizes the physical quality of sight, the soul of man immersed in communion with God, and the God given ability to write. Milton's use of the image of spent light seems to symbolize the effects of these three qualities changed through blindness.

Milton initially links his loss of sight to an emptier existence. He writes, "Ere half my days in this dark world and wide" (line 2). His use of the words dark and wide simultaneously convey his new physical state and a shadowed vastness of spiritual doubt. According to Anna Nardo, "the idea of days taken from the second line may be linked with Milton's working days" (Nardo 146). Milton may be responding to pressure to work against the impending future and his allotted time to write if he is to achieve the fulfillment of his literary promise. Writing is Milton's method of serving God, yet he is no longer able to read the created text serving as a vehicle of his talent on the page. This estrangement propels his

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