English Language and Literature ETDs

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This thesis explores the ways in which Samuel Parker, an obscure philosopher and theologian who became Bishop of Oxford, played a role in the literary relationship of John Milton and Andrew Marvell. Chapter I gives the sketchy biographical facts which link the three men. As a Latin Secretary to Oliver Cromwell, Milton helped the young Marvell advance his prospects until Marvell ultimately became a Member of Parliament and a government emissary. But as Marvell rose in political circles, Milton gradually retired from public life. Perhaps to repay past favors, Marvell defended Milton from scurrilous attacks by Parker and his followers in a pamphlet dispute in which Milton was inadvertently involved. Chapter II analyzes references to Milton in the dispute more particularly with special emphasis on Marvell's The Rehearsal Transpros’d and his attack on Parker as a false arbiter of style. One of the references to Milton in the dispute is unique because it is the only contemporary reaction have to Milton's original use of blank verse in Paradise Lost, instead of the more usual rhymed couplet. The final chapter discusses Marvell's other defense of Milton, the poem “On Paradise Lost," first in the context of Dryden's role in the early reception of the epic and then as a continuation of the rhetorical discussion in the debate with Parker--clearly linked through the phrase 'tagging of points." Marvell's poem is organized like a medieval theme, and in the testimonium--a traditional part where an author's words are used in his own support--Marvel paraphrases Milton's own defense of blank verse in "The Verse" to answer the Parker objections. Considering the poem as a part of the Parker dispute clears up ambiguities Marvell's editors left unresolved.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Morris Freedman

Second Committee Member

Edith Buchanan

Third Committee Member

Mary Beth Whidden



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