Milton and his three wives

  Milton was the most outstanding poet in the English literary world in the 17th century. Harold Bloom, the author of “The Western Canon”, believed that “Milton’s place in the canon is permanent”, mainly referring to his “Paradise Lost”. , “Paradise Restored” and “Samson Lux”, especially “Paradise Lost” is considered a classic among the classics.
  The life of this great writer can be described as bumpy and ups and downs. Some people say that his life “falls a thousand feet and leaps thousands of miles”, which is not only a true portrayal of his life, but also a narration of his spiritual realm. The most obvious turning point in his life was his first marriage. After the marriage, Milton’s life was turned upside down. It can be said that this marriage was the beginning of his sad life. From the day of his marriage, his original life without setbacks, enjoying literary pleasures, and carefree ended, “From this day on, the pain of the family, the disturbance of things, the noise of arguments, especially the blind man Suffering has accompanied his destiny for more than 30 years.”
  Milton’s first wife was named Mary Powell. His union with this woman is somewhat incomprehensible.
  Mary was the daughter of a squire. In 1643, Milton left London and went to the country to collect an old debt for his father. The debt was not recovered, but he brought back the girl who was 17 years younger than him, and soon married her. Why did he marry such an uncultured and pampered little girl, some people think it was his father’s intentional arrangement, some people think that Milton was moved by the youth and vitality of this country girl, and some people think it was The conspiracy of Mary’s family, they took a fancy to Milton’s wealthy family background, but in the end it was just speculation. One month after getting married, the newlywed wife proposed to go back to her parents’ house, but she never came back. In this regard, many people expressed their views. Some people think that it may be because this girl who is lazy by nature and used to living a careless and leisurely life cannot bear Milton’s serious and quiet lifestyle; The bride from a hard-core royal family had nothing in common with Milton, who belonged to the radical revolutionary; some believe that a marriage without love bored both people, especially Milton; some even thought it was because of Mary’s parents Seeing that the Royal Army at that time had achieved some victories, it was dangerous to follow Milton, a Puritan who supported the revolution and opposed the kingship, so he wrote to Mary to leave Milton. In any case, the young lady had just spent her honeymoon with Milton and returned to her parents’ home. Milton wrote letters several times, urging her to come back, but they all fell into disarray. Later, Milton even sent someone to pick up his new wife, but the person who sent him came back and told him that he was “sent back with some kind of insult”. It seems that Mary is determined to break up with Milton.
  Milton was deeply touched by this incident. He saw from his marriage that the divorce system in Britain was incomplete and unreasonable at that time. He anonymously issued a booklet called “The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce”. Rationally analyzes the institutional problems of marriage. Some of his views were attacked by some people, and he wrote 3 more pamphlets discussing his own views, fighting back. These actions of his make people feel incredible: a person who has just suffered the blow of the marriage change, instead of sucking on his own wounds, he thinks about the system problems that cause his own pain, and explores the root cause of his own pain. Some argue that this is the cause of the times, when Milton lived in a time when “arguments have avoided details” and instead “attempted to dig down to the root of every problem.”
  In these pamphlets, he argues that the incompatibility of political views is a valid reason for divorce and deserves to be understood and supported, while also arguing that love is the foundation of marriage: “In conjugal love there is a sense of purity on both sides. , the natural desire for a suitable companion for the exchange of ideas. This desire, which may be properly called love, is stronger than death…”. From this, we can think that this is Milton’s reflection on his marriage. Of course, it also proves to a certain extent that the previous speculation about the reason for their separation is entirely possible. Protestant factions at the time believed that adultery was the cause of divorce, but Milton believed that adultery, a defilement of the bed, might have caused divorce because “it caused a break in harmony and affection,” that is, It is said that the loss of harmonious relationships and the loss of feelings are the reason and sufficient reason for divorce. Milton’s reflections on divorce are not without value to this day.
  The marriage between the poet and Mary did not end there. Three years later, the two were reunited with the help of friends. The main reason is: the Royal Army suffered a fundamental defeat at the time. Mary’s family believed that Milton’s Puritan status was very important to them, so they asked this mutual friend for help. At this friend’s house, Mary He suddenly appeared in front of Milton who was not mentally prepared, knelt down and asked for his forgiveness, and blamed his fault on his family, especially his mother’s instigation. With the demeanor of a generous gentleman, Milton did not care about the past. He accepted Mary, and at the same time, he accepted the Powell family. Because the land in his hometown was confiscated, Mary’s family went bankrupt and moved to the next year. Milton’s home. Years later, in his “Paradise Lost”, Milton artistically recreated the scene of his wife begging him: … Eve / … but in tears, / unkempt and humbly fell at / at his feet , also holding his feet. Pleasantly / He quelled his anger, . . . /—her humble and pitiful face / persisted until confession and pleading, / reconciled, won / sympathy in Adam’s heart, and his heart suddenly softened to her / Come down, his life and only consolation not long ago, now kneels at his feet in pain. /What a charming man begging him to be reconciled, /As if disarmed, his anger disappeared at once.
  Milton, in his pamphlet on divorce, stated that marriage and family should provide people with comfort and “happy rest.” Obviously, his family failed to provide him with these. The following year, in a letter to an Italian friend, he wrote: “It is often sad to think that those who have died by chance or law, by blood or by some insubstantial connection. I cannot bear the noise of those who live with me all day long.”
  Milton’s wife died in 1652, giving birth to her fourth child, and the newborn baby.
  Four years after the death of his first wife, in 1656, Milton married Catherine Woodcock, nearly 20 years his junior. Being completely blind as early as 1652, Milton did not see his wise wife with his own eyes. But the two are in love and live happily ever after. This may be Milton’s best time since his first marriage, but it seems that fate deliberately played tricks on the poor blind man. The good times didn’t last long. The wife Catherine, whom he fell in love with, lived with him for about 15 years. Within a month or so, she and her newborn daughter died of puerperal fever. Milton’s grief can be imagined. Two years later, he wrote the famous sonnet “Dream of the Dead Wife”:
  I seem to have seen my holy deceased wife,
  as if Alchesi had returned from the grave ,
  returned to her husband by Jov’s great son,
  rescued from death, pale and powerless.
  My Arceste has been cleansed from the blemishes of the puerperium,
  purified according to the ancient statutes, and has remained immaculately white;
  therefore I also seem to have regained the once light,
  and see her unhindered and clearly in heaven,
  Her snow-white clothes are as pure as her heart, and
  her face is covered with a veil, but in my fantasy eyes,
  she clearly radiates love, kindness, and coquettishness, and
  there is no other face than this. People are happier.
  But, ah! Just as she was about to bend over to hug me,
  I woke up, she fled, and the day brought back my night.
  From this poem, we can see how much Milton loved his wife. Arcetis (transliteration Arcetis) is a character in ancient Greek mythology. She was known for her loyalty to her husband and voluntarily died for her husband. Milton uses such a character to describe his wife, which shows that he is very satisfied with her virtuous and loyal wife. more than What do you hope to relive the warmth with his wife, and with her, he seems to have regained the light. It can be said that Catherine, in Milton’s view, is the embodiment of love, kindness and coquettishness. But a dream is a dream after all, and a dream is about to wake up. When Milton wakes up, he feels that he has fallen into the dark abyss again.
  We can fully understand Milton’s love for his second wife. From a human point of view, the gentle and virtuous Catherine brought the light of love to Milton who was in the dark. As Milton, who has experienced a failed marriage, will inevitably compare Catherine with Mary, which will only make him love Catherine more and suffer more for losing her.
  Shortly after Milton suffered the loss of his wife and daughter, he suffered another, perhaps more severe one. In the autumn of 1658, Cromwell’s death plunged England into chaos again. The imperialist power is on the rise, and the restoration of the dynasty is inevitable. Disregarding his personal safety, Milton spoke out against the restoration of the dynasty and for the defense of the liberty of the motherland, but he was in isolation. After the restoration of the dynasty in 1660, Milton was arrested and imprisoned. Later, thanks to the help of his friends and the fact that the royalist forces believed that he was already blind, it was impossible to set off a big wave. He survived, but he lost most of his property. His financial situation is not as good as it used to be. At the same time, his eldest and second daughters were enemies of Milton due to the influence of his grandmother, and the inconvenience caused by his blindness all made his life very miserable in the following years.
  It wasn’t until 1663 that Milton began his third marriage with a woman named Elizabeth Minshal that his living conditions improved. Milton’s wife was not an intellectual woman, and there is no evidence that she helped Milton in literature, but it is certain that she was a careful caregiver of Milton’s later life . She cooks him all kinds of meals he likes. One of their maids said that on one occasion, when Elizabeth served Milton some meals she thought he liked, Milton said: “Betty, thank God, I see you will keep your word, I Cook me these dishes I like when I’m alive, and I’m dead, you know, I’ll leave everything to you.” We don’t know if Milton really said that, but one thing is for sure Yes, Milton spent his last 11 years under the care of his wife, and wrote “Paradise Lost,” “Paradise Restoration,” and “Paradise Lost”, “Paradise Restoration” and “Paradise Lost”, which would be passed down to future generations and made him a giant in the history of British and even world literature. “Samson Lux” and other works. Another thing is certain, after Milton’s death, he did leave all of his own to his wife, not his daughters, which was a modest inheritance, about 1,500 pounds.
  It can be said that Milton’s life was unfortunate, especially in terms of family life. Although the two ladies he later married were very virtuous and indeed gave him some comfort, he was blind at that time and could not be completely blind. Enjoy the joys of family life like a normal person. But Milton did not lose his fighting spirit because of the misfortune of his own body and family life. It can be said that his life was a life of fighting against fate and a life closely related to the fate of his motherland. Until the end of his life, he was still “writing constantly” (the works after his blindness were all dictated by him and recorded by others), and he never forgot the trampling of freedom due to the restoration of the dynasty and the adverse impact on his life, always thinking about revenge. Revenge has almost become a motif of his later literary creation. The poem “Paradise Lost” is not so much about how the ancestors of mankind were expelled from Paradise, but about the war between God and Satan, and about Satan’s revenge against God. By writing such a battle of revenge, I can express the block in my chest. He created a Satan who dared to rebel against the authority of God and against the dictatorship of God, such a glorious image full of rebellious spirit, to symbolize those fighters who fought for the freedom of the motherland. Finally, in the light of Satan, God appears dimmed. And “Samson the Warrior” is even more a masterpiece. Samson’s frame-up, betrayal by his wife, blindness, imprisonment and finally the tragic revenge in the work is exactly the portrayal of Milton’s real life. Milton’s book of life may be the most precious treasure he left to our descendants!

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