Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


English Language and Literatures


College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

David Lee Miller


My dissertation, “‘Held by Thy Voice’: Navigating Time in John Milton’s Poetry” explores how and to what extent John Milton uses the formal device of suspension in “Lycidas,” Paradise Lost, and Paradise Regained. I argue that by using suspension, Milton negotiates between multiple categories of time. These moments are important because they highlight characters’ perspectives and expose the limitations of their viewpoints. Milton also employs suspension to introduce potential scenarios that reveal characters to be out of step with a providential framework. He uses suspension to connect two or more temporal categories and to reveal an individual’s position in relation to his or her moment in time, a relationship that Marshall Grossman in Authors to Themselves terms “historical consciousness.” In moments of suspension, temporal categories are often at odds with one another. While some critics have noticed suspension operating in Milton’s poetry, they have not fully considered how it illuminates Milton’s conception of time. In my argument, form is central to understanding the relationship between various temporal constructs and the way Milton makes them his own. Tracing Milton’s pauses provides us the opportunity to understand how form is working to illustrate point of view, how point of view functions within the plot, and the extent to which characters’ perceptions of their roles are often outside the boundaries of right action and good timing.