The Role Of Death In John Milton's 'Lycidas'

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Humans have long developed a means of dealing with death. The work in mourning that comes with losing a loved one is a long and painful path. We mourn in order to feel comfort, or like John Milton puts it in his epic pastoral elegy, “For so to interpose a little ease” (l. 153). While feeling solace is pivotal for the mourner, it does not occur without a number of crucial stages that lead grief to ease. Sigmund Freud’s observation of mourning ties an evident relationship with John Milton’s “Lycidas”, but Milton also demonstrates an act of selfishness through his grieving. Perhaps this egotistic act defuses the pain in loss which Milton simultaneously conveys through his process of sorrow.
After Milton losses his friend Edward King, he dedicates his epic elegy to King. As per Freud, the first step of losing a loved one is to question reality. Did this really happen, is this really happening to me, and how can this happen? Milton has to convince himself that his good friend is gone, and he does it by writing “For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime” (l.8). This repetition of “dead” also brings attention to the intensity this death has resulted, and the reason why he is writing this poem. Lycidas’ death is certainly a tragedy for Milton because King has died so young, before his prime as he says. Interestingly, Milton compares this loss of a friend before his prime to a more selfish loss, the loss of having to “I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude, /And with forced
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