"E(a)ve'sdropping" in Paradise lost: knowledge and disobedience in Eve
LE3 .A278 2007
Master of Arts
English & Theatre Studies
Many feminist arguments about John Milton's 'Paradise Lost' accuse the poet of misogyny, asserting that Eve's character is a negative reflection of women, even as an opposing camp of critics see Milton's Eve as a revolutionary depiction of equality between the sexes, and 'Paradise Lost' as a subversively feminist text. I will explain the polarity of criticism on Milton's Eve by suggesting that Milton writes two different sides to her character, and that the presentations depend upon a closer examination of knowledge and education in the poem. I will also consider early modern ideas about education and marriage, as Eve is portrayed, in many passages, as a paragon of seventeenth-century virtue and domesticity. Eve's conflicting speech and behavior during key scenes about knowledge, however, showcase a more ambitious side of Eve, one who ignores the domestic sphere in favor of a more masculine education.
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