How do Textual Features Combine To Convey a Theme of the Poem?


Milton wrote extensively throughout his life, and studied literature
profoundly. His cunningness and literary techniques were observed in all of his
literature. However, at the prime of his life, his weak eyes gave as his intense
work and studies caused his blindness. As a result of this tragedy, Milton
created a sonnet about his blindness. He questioned the meaning of this tragedy,
of the future, and God for his blindness within the sonnet. Even though his
whole life and work involved his eyes, he accepted this eventually. Within
Milton\'s sonnet about his blindness: figurative language, personification, his
intent and prosody are adopted to convey his questions and heart felt acceptance
of his blindness.
Milton uses figurative language to express his grievances and discontent.
He reflects upon his life and “how my light is spent,” or the time he had his
sight. Milton then expresses the feeling of the “dark world and wide” of the
blind as his introduction to his questions. He begins to question his writing
that only death can take away (“...one talent which is death to hide..”), “
lodged... useless” within him because of his new blindness. As a result, Milton
begins to question God, “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?” Milton
wonders as to the meaning of his blindness; Does God want him to continue to
write, even with his blindness, or what does God really mean? At first his tone
seems harsh, but his feelings are redirected as he answers his own questions in
time. His last question to God, was answered by himself as he realizes that he
cannot blame God for his actions. His figurative language from the point he
begins to question, up to where he begins to answer his own questions are full
of implications of his thought. These implications must be picked out in order
to make sense of the feeling and statement Milton is trying to make.
Furthermore, Milton uses personification to express the importance of
words and values. He personifies “Patience” as if patience were a man who
replies for him. Patience is his reasoning for accepting the fact that he is
blind. It is used to introduce the answer towards his questioning, and as a
change or turning point within the sonnet. As in standard Petrarchian sonnets
this change is in the 8-9 line, and a transition between problem and solution is
achieved. The problem was whether or not he should continue to write. Yet, in
line 8 the personification conveys the theme of acceptance through Patience.
More or less, Milton\'s patience, or a result of his patience, is telling him
that God accepts whoever bears his burdens and has no need of Man\'s ideas and
creations. Furthermore, he states that God is served by your own means and that
there are many ways direct or indirect to serve and satisfy God. Some serve as
priests and popes, “thousands at his bidding... and post o\'er land and ocean
without rest.” Then there is the rest of the world who take life as it is;
others that “also serve who only stand and wait.”
In addition, Milton\'s prosody and intent on words creates the mood and
theme of the sonnet. Words such as light has the ability to have many meanings
and interpretations. However, within this sonnet it means his life up to his
blindness and his sight. “Death to hide” plays upon the idea that in order to
disappear, death is the only way to go. “My soul more bent to serve therewith my
Maker,” the feeling of the necessity to serve God. However, throughout the
sonnet, a final idea is set that God is served whether you are the priest or one
“who only stand and wait.” He has accepted the fact that he is blind and has
answered his own thoughts on God. Milton believes that he must make a choice to
go on with his writing or “stand and wait,” as he must bear the burden and
continue or stop.
In conclusion, Milton uses many literary techniques to express himself
as he confronts his feelings with blindness within this sonnet. The uses of
figurative language to introduce the dilemma and to personification for change
to the solution of his problems are effectively used to contrast the mood. His
prosody and intention with words creates an imaginative thought process and
detail towards the sonnet. Overall, his techniques combine to convey the theme
of acceptance and realization. Milton has inferred that whether or not he
continues to write depends