'A barbarous nook of Ireland' : representations of the Irish Rebellion in Milton and some contemporaries
The Irish Rebellion profoundly affected the literary and political imagination of John Milton and his contemporaries. This work examines some of the textual strategies employed in representing the Irish Rebellion. These include analogies to the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, the Old Testament, and paternity. Each of these analogies works in con j unction Nvith the familiar, barbaric Irish stereotype in order to discredit the political objectives of the rebels. In addition, many of these political analogies prompt accusations of sexual depravity. This association of the political and the sexual is essential in how Milton, in particular, genders the godly commonwealth as masculine. Representing the Irish, however, also betrays domestic political anxieties. The binary opposition of civility and barbarism prompts an active struggle against barbarism on both a national and individual level. Paradoxically, the more the Irish stereotype is used in an attempt to differentiate and distance the Irish from the godly commonivealth, the closer the poles of the binary opposition come together.