Middleton's Imagination

Douglas Bruster

in The Oxford Handbook of Thomas Middleton

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199559886
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Middleton's Imagination

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)



This article explores Middleton's imagination, which is attracted to the struggle between body and soul, desire and fear, and which generally follows his convictions rather than creating them. Calvinistic in a way that reflects the complexities of that thinker's positions, Middleton finds sin not only inevitable but erotic: one of the pleasures of his own imagination seems to be imagining the painful consequences, for others, of pleasure seeking. Therefore neither his imagination nor its products are habitually transcendent, or especially seek to be. Middleton's major act of imagination is to conceive of human impulsiveness – whether in imaginative creation or the pursuit of the erotic – as less a liberating and productive faculty than a recursive and debilitating one. Yet in their focus on the pull of the physical, his works reveal a compelling range of experience. Middleton has a different way of conceiving of the imagination; in this difference we gain a valuable entry to the differences and achievements of his imagination itself.

Keywords: Thomas Middleton; sin; human impulsiveness

Article.  7570 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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