Exploring the Role of Marriage in Paradise Lost Essay

Exploring the Role of Marriage in Paradise Lost

In his epic poem, Paradise Lost, John Milton addresses the role of woman and man within the institution of marriage. More specifically, he explores why such a bond is considered sacred within the context of his Protestant religion. The book of Genesis offers two guidelines for an ideal marriage, both exemplified in the relationship between Adam and Eve. The first account states, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2.24). A contextual reading gives the reader the impression that God encourages man and wife to pursue a spiritually enriched relationship, in which they share such intimate feelings that they seem to become a single person. The second account translates the word of God, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1.28). This statement asserts that procreation is an important aspect of an ideal marriage. Milton’s own account of Genesis within Paradise Lost, supports the first account, but does not discount the latter. Adam and Eve are the original parents of mankind, and do procreate within the Garden of Eden. However, Milton chooses to focus much more on the bond shared between them, instead of the results of their sexual relationship. Adam and Eve maintain a partnership that involves deep friendship and understanding for one other. Connecting with one another allows them to maintain a structured relationship without any confusion as to each role within the relationship. Concentrating on the bond between one another allows them this clarity, much like, in Protestant religion, a strong devotional relationship to God allows clarity within one’s life. In emphasizing the importance of t…

…: A Study of the Divorce Tracts and Paradise Lost. Yale University Press. Conn.:New Haven, 1970.

3. Marilla, E.L. Milton & Modern Man. University of Alabama Press. Alabama:University, 1968.

4. Milton, John. Paradise Lost. The Riverside Milton. Ed. Roy Flannagan. HoughtonMifflin Company. Mass: Boston, 1998.

5. Nyquist, Mary. “The Genesis of Gendered Subjectivity in the Divorce Tracts and inParadise Lost.” Critical Essays on John Milton. Ed. Christopher Kendrick.G.K. Hall & Co. New York, 1995.

6. Samuel, Irene. “The Dialogue in Heaven: A Reconsideration of Paradise Lost.”Milton, Modern Essays in Criticism. Ed. Arthur E. Barker. OxfordUniversity Press. New York, 1965.

7. “The First Book of Moses, Called Genesis.” Handout. 9 October 2003.