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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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John Dennis, John Locke, and the Sublimation of Revolt

John Dennis, John Locke, and the Sublimation of Revolt

Samson Agonistes after the Glorious Revolution

Chapter:
(p.121) 6 John Dennis, John Locke, and the Sublimation of Revolt
Source:
Milton in the Long Restoration
Author(s):

Catherine Gimelli Martin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198769774.003.0007

This chapter questions why John Dennis, the first literary critic to associate Milton with the poetic sublime, refuses to apply this term to Samson Agonistes or even publicly to discuss the drama. This omission is particularly problematic given that Dennis regards Milton’s sublimity as the product of his religious passion and defends the portrayal of tragic heroes who share much the same flaws as his Samson. The answer to the problem explored here is that while Dennis generally shared Milton’s politics, after the Restoration the political resistance theory implicit in his drama is far more radical than John Locke’s theory in the Second Treatise on Government, which Dennis explicitly approved. The post-Restoration implications of these differences are thoroughly discussed, along with the probable influence of George Buchanan’s Jephtes (1554) on Samson Agonistes.

Keywords:   Samson Agonistes, political resistance theory, John Locke, Second Treatise on Government, John Dennis, literary criticism, George Buchanan, Jephtes

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