Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Louis Schwartz

Second Advisor

Dr. Alan Loxterman

Third Advisor

Dr. Tony Russell


This thesis examines Sonnet 23, especially in concern to: 1) Milton’s adherence to monism, a philosophical and theological position that he derived from his reading of Rabbinical approaches to the Old Testament; 2) His adherence to the related doctrine of mortalism, which held that death entailed the death, until resurrection of both body and soul; and 3) Milton’s interest in the way certain Puritan thinkers idealized desire for aspects of the world’s beauty, especially desire for one’s spouse, and how, particularly in the process of mourning, such desires could foster a stronger bond with God. The thesis also looks at the tripartite structure of Sonnet 23, that is, the series of allusions to Classical, Old Testament, and New Testament texts. The re-examination of the allusions shows that instead of representing despair over bodily limitations, Milton blends monist, mortalist and Puritan beliefs to demonstrate how desire can foster a deeper love between fellow human beings and a deeper love for God.