Essay about Milton’s Eve Revisited

For centuries, John Milton’s portrayal of Eve in Paradise Lost has been labeled as misogynistic in that Eve acts as a narcissistic simpleton who is shackled to Adam by divine right. Feminists also assume that since Eve was created last, she is automatically put into the role of the submissive. However, it must be acknowledged that Eve knows that she is the fairer sex and is the first one to question divine authority. She is the one who wants to divide the work so that it may be done faster and so Adam and Eve may be equal in tending the garden. It is because of her desire to be equal to Adam that she is the first one to eat of the fruit and therefore the first to fall.Throughout Paradise Lost, Milton emphasizes the idea of free will and how it is because of free will that humankind fell from Paradise. Free will cannot be ignored when discussing Eve and her role in Paradise Lost because she makes the decision to follow God and then later disobey his commands. Free will also controls whether Eve is forced into submission or that she chooses to be submissive. It must not be forgotten that Eve chooses to eat of the forbidden fruit; she is not forced by Satan to do so. While he does tempt her with the possibility of knowledge, she is the one to make the decision to eat it; she could have ignored Satan’s enticing words. All in all, Milton’s Eve must be seen as a more dynamic figure than feminists believe her to be and Eve has an inner strength and personality that cannot be denied.From the first time Eve is mentioned in Paradise Lost, she is known by her beauty, not her future sins. Milton describes Eve as modest but without shame and while she uses gentle persuasion, she does not tease those who are in awe of her (Musacchio 97)….

…y Women Writers. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania, 2008. Print.Milton, John. “Paradise Lost.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Carol T. Christ, Catherine Robson, Stephen Greenblatt, and M. H. Abrams. 8th ed. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2006. 725-852. Print.Musacchio, George. Milton’s Adam and Eve: Fallible Perfection. Vol. 118. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 1991. Print. American University Studies: English Language and Literature. Ser. 4.Schoenfeldt, Michael C. “Gender and Conduct in Paradise Lost.” Sexuality and Gender in Early Modern Europe: Institutions, Texts, Images. Ed. James G. Turner. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 310-38. Print.Whitfield, Jonathan. “The Invisible Woman: Eve’s Self Image in Paradise Lost.” Oshkosh Scholar. Vol. II. Oskosh, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2007. 57-61. Print.

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