‘A Thousand Fantasies’: The Lady and the <i>Maske</i>

Ann Baynes Coiro

in The Oxford Handbook of Milton

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697885
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 ‘A Thousand Fantasies’: The Lady and the Maske

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John Milton put A Maske presented at Ludlow Castle in the middle of his authorial identity when he announced that he was an important writer. A Maske has often been linked with Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue. John Fletcher's The Faithful Shepherdess was one of Milton's favourite plays and reading it can feel like a phantasmagoric encounter with Milton's Maske. The points of intersection between Coelum Britannicum and A Maske show the difference between the sceptical courtier and the romantic humanist. A Maske is the crucial nexus of Milton's two great English influences: Spenser's pastoral romance and Shakespeare's richly human drama. The most fascinating feature of the masque is the Lady. The masque's reversion to a conventional deus ex machina (Sabrina, or, if necessary, Heaven) only underscores retrospectively the boldness of Milton's most original creation in A Maske, a real woman acting nobly in the world.

Keywords: John Milton; Ludlow Castle; Pleasure Reconciled; Faithful Shepherdess; Coelum Britannicum; pastoral romance; human drama; Spenser; Shakespeare

Article.  12377 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Postcolonial Literature)

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