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Iconoclasm As An Artistic Strategy

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Chapter Summary

The theory and practice of iconoclasm is one of the most important lenses through which to examine English Protestant poetry. This chapter suggests a number of specific gestures within the practice of iconoclasm that have equivalents in the artistic process used by John Milton and his contemporaries. It then turns to the most explicit of Milton's statements about iconoclasm, in Eikonoklastes, which lays out not just his antipathy to the iconography of Charles I as a Christ-like martyr, but also reveals many of the principles for Milton's alternative iconography of the Son. The most important aspect of Christian image theory for a discussion of Milton's poems-and a key element of Reformation-era iconoclasm-is the hostility to depictions of the Son as well as of God the Father. Several techniques of iconoclasm became important tools for the composition of Protestant poetry when it depicted God the Father and the Son.

Keywords: artistic strategy; Christian image theory; Eikonoklastes; English Protestant poetry; iconoclasm; John Milton



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