John Milton's pedagogical philosophy as it applies to his prose and poetry
Varghese, Jooly Mary
This work examines, more completely than earlier works, the development of John Milton's pedagogical philosophy and its application to his major prose and poetry. The study traces the development of Milton's philosophy from his days as a student through his days as a polemicist, and later. While "Of Education," outlines the poet's concept of the ideal curriculum, thoughts on the topic are found in many of Milton's writings, not only in his prose and poetry but even in his earlier academic exercises. This preoccupation with teaching and learning that pervades much of Milton's writing serves as evidence that education was a major passion of his life. The study examines the effects Milton's early philosophy had on his first major poems. Ode on Christ's Nativity (1629), Comus (1634), and Lycidas (1637). While certain educational views were refined and at times redefined throughout his life, the poet firmly held on to the belief that the true scholar was one who had the ability to evaluate all knowledge critically, thus being able to retain the truth and discard error. He vehemently opposed the idea of anyone accepting a teaching or belief simply because it came from a particular group or person, however respected. Milton's ideal student is one who is self-motivated in his or her pursuit of knowledge, and the poet's ideal teacher is one who can present learning effectively enough to inspire the student onto that road of self-motivated learning. The study also examines how Milton's pedagogical philosophy is applied to his final great poems Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. In these works, the reader is not allowed to be a passive recipient of knowledge; he or she has to work constantly, often with the characters, through contradicting ideas and emotions to arrive at the truth. The poet in compelling his readers/students to travel this path endeavors to develop in them the power of reason, a gift that he believed was endowed to all creation by the Creator to reach the "heights of knowledge."