This second lecture on Milton's masque probes its complex depictions of virginity and chastity. The version of the masque performed in 1634 is compared with the published version of 1637, with particular emphasis on a monologue on the vanquishing powers of virginity that is created for the latter. The poet's commonplace book, specifically his notes on the self-mutilation of the medieval nuns of Coldingham, is linked to images of the body in the masque. Milton's gradual revision of his initial position favoring life-long virginity is described in detail.
A study of Milton's poetry, with some attention to his literary sources, his contemporaries, his controversial prose, and his decisive influence on the course of English poetry.
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