Article

Milton's Regicide Tracts and the Uses of Shakespeare

Nicholas McDowell

in The Oxford Handbook of Milton

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697885
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199697885.013.0014

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Milton's Regicide Tracts and the Uses of Shakespeare

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John Milton seeks in the regicide tracts the reform of literary culture at the moment of both political and religious reformation, and he looks beyond an English theatrical culture tainted by Stuart patronage to the political and moral lessons of classical, anti-tyrannical closet drama. The idea of a Miltonic ‘expulsion’ of Shakespeare after the regicide would not be accepted by those who have argued for a strong and positive Shakespearean presence in Paradise Lost. It has been found puzzling that Macbeth ‘never seems to be quoted in the literature of 1640–60’. The submerged presence of Macbeth in the Tenure does not offer a sound basis on which to argue for or against the beginnings of a Miltonic expulsion of Shakespeare, although the bias of argument has been towards Milton's reading against the grain of Macbeth's pro-Stuart and divine-right sympathies.

Keywords: John Milton; regicide tracts; Shakespeare; Macbeth; Tenure; English theatrical culture; literary culture

Article.  10320 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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