I'm sorry this post won't be very long. I'm working on narrowing down my topic so that I can make an actual good thesis. I'm interested in the topic of overreachers, both contextually in the works of Milton and intertextually in the works of those that he was influenced by and those that he later influenced. Obviously I don't just want to list examples of overreachers throughout literature, so I'm working on narrowing it to an actual defensible argument. One thing that intrigues me that I've been trying to look at is the idea of Milton himself as a kind of overreacher. We've said many times in class that Milton was marked by strong ambition--even sense of destiny--that he had to do something great in his life. We see examples of this in his writing, most notably in the opening lines of Paradise Lost where he states that he is trying to write a poem "That with no middle flight intends to soar / Above th’ Aonian mount, while it pursues / Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme" (I: 14-16). Milton had to be aware of his own ambition, seeing as how it is a common theme throughout both Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. In PL we see untempered ambition personified in the form of Satan who attempts to usurp the throne of God and fails miserably; while in PR we see the dichotomy of ambition in Christ, someone who is ambitious but who tempers that ambition with patience in waiting on God the Father for instruction. Which one would Milton have thought of himself as being more like? Likely, Milton wished he was more like Christ (obviously), while knowing that he was closer to Satan in terms of his level of ambition. After all, Milton spent his own time in a figurative Hell when he was imprisoned briefly following the Restoration of the monarchy. Obviously Satan's fall form grace comes from the biblical source, but I can't help but think that part of Milton's inspiration or motivation in writing as eloquently as he did about this fallen angel came from his own experience in over-reaching.
I'm basically thinking out loud in this blog post, which is why it isn't terribly cohesive, for which I hope you'll forgive me. I like the idea of examining Milton's life and seeing connections between his own experiences and those of the characters that he wrote about. I also like finding intertextuality between Milton's works (especially PL) and other great works in literature and art. Anyway, if you have any suggestions on how to narrow this topic down to a concise argument, let me know. Hopefully my next post will include a real thesis to work off of. At any rate, I plan on my next post showing more research into secondary sources.