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Milton in the Long Restoration$
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Blair Hoxby and Ann Baynes Coiro

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198769774

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198769774.001.0001

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Milton’s Essay of Dramatic Poesy

Milton’s Essay of Dramatic Poesy

Samson Agonistes

(p.97) 5 Milton’s Essay of Dramatic Poesy
Milton in the Long Restoration

Ann Baynes Coiro

Oxford University Press

Samson Agonistes engages with two heated Long Restoration debates: the use of rhymed verse in tragedy and the status of the tragic chorus. Each might seem pedantic now or merely technical, but they were vitally important to Milton and his contemporaries. Indeed, Samson Agonistes’s chorus remains at the very heart of current (widely varied and fiercely contested) readings; our understanding of Milton’s rhyming chorus thus determines our overall understanding of this disturbing Restoration tragedy. This chapter reads Samson Agonistes’s chorus closely in order to understand the dramatic poem in contemporary terms.

Keywords:   Samson Agonistes, chorus, Dryden’s Essay of Dramatic Poetry, blank verse, rhyme, John Dennis, ancients vs. moderns, Eikonoklastes, Aristotle, closet drama

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