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The Issues of Sexism in Paradise Lost

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Paradise Lost the epic poem written in a blank verse by the 17th century English poet John Milton. He recounts the biblical description of the fall of mankind. Eve is the only character that is female and human in the poem and Milton’s representation of her of her is beyond doubt sexist. The story of Adam and Eve has led to the establishment of so called gender roles pervaded through society as the world of God. Man is considered as the superior figure to conduct the weaker, subservient sex female. Studying the issues of sexism in Paradise Lost, there are many consideration that have to be taken an account. Firstly, Milton is reproducing God’s word, and that’s why he can not be solely accountable for the way women are represented. According to Ferry, “Bible is a record of divinely inspired truth which it is the Christian’s duty to interpret and follow, not to contradict or ignore. As Milton is reproducing the God’ word , the portrayal of women as a figure of inferior, subversive tempter, sinner, ignoramus is not only deliberately Misogynisticness of Milton, It is biblical.

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Paradise Lost says that man is created by God and Woman is created from the image of man. So, inequality between men and women is the trademark since the creation of human being. Eve is exposed as a flawed character through the characteristics of narcissism, carelessness, temptress in not only in the Milton’s epic but also in the Bible. Eve stares at her own reflection at extended period of time, coming off with vain narcissism. When Raphael tells the story of fall to Adam, she seems careless and starts to roaming around in the garden. The characteristics of Eve can be pursued by the physical features of Eve in front of the dominant powerful feature of Adam. It is very easy for Eve to connected with story from the words of the Adam .One of the vital flaws of Eve is the tempter for Adam, and having been tempted by Satan to eat the fruit from the Tree of the knowledge of the evil and good which we find in both Milton’s epic and Bible.

Milton’s misogynistic attitude in Paradise Lost is illustrated though Eves soft and sweet features which, according to Milton suggest her inferiority to man. Adams stalwart and manly features, on the other hand, portray him as superior. In Paradise Lost, “Whence true authority in men; though both/Not equal, as their sex not equal seemed;/ For contemplation he and valour formed,/ For softness she and sweet attractive grace”. The first time that Adam and Eve first look at one another Eve feels submissive and meek in Adams authoritative presence. It clearly shows that Eves softness and sweetness render her inferior to Adam, while he is regarded as a valorous, heroic, and therefore superior creature: His fair large front and eye sublime declared/ Absolute rule. Because Milton characterizes Adam as a more forceful character, his power provides an explanation of mans pre-eminence. Milton alludes to the fact that physical strength is what dictates the status of a human being. With respect to Eves sensuality, she assumes a submissive role because of her meek softness and sweetness, whereas Adam has absolute rule because of his fair large front and eye As a result, Milton exploits the extreme differences between these two in order to highlight the inequalities between women and men, under the light of the original story which is depicted in Bible thus contributing to the misogynistic quality of Paradise Lost. It shows us that inequality between men and women has existed since the creation phase.

Milton illustrates the Eve’s another flawed Characteristics which is the lack of intellectuality through the action of Satan.Why Satan has targeted Eve first? Through the action of Satan it is easily comprehensive that Eve is lack of intellectual that is why Satan has targeted Eve first. Satan believes that Eve is less intellectual and weak than the highly powerful and intellectual Adam.

However, Ferry shows that the first time we see Eve and Adam through the eyes of Satan in Book Four, we see two ‘of far nobler shape erect and tall/Godlike erect, with native Honor clad/In naked Majesty seemed Lords of all’. There is no distinction between Adam and Eve — both are majestic and both are ‘Lords’. This is an outsider’s (Satan’s) view, yet it is the reader’s first introduction to Eve, and as such, the first impression. This moment would have been an ideal time to pursue a misogynistic agenda if Milton had wanted to, but he does not choose to do so. The lines which follow the initial appearance do lower Eve slightly from equality; however, what is done is correct within the Biblical mythos. Ferry points out that ‘Milton held with passionate conviction…that the Bible is a record of divinely inspired truth which it is the Christian’s duty to interpret and follow, not to contradict or ignore’. How, then, could Milton fail to point out that, in the eyes of those who wrote the Bible, ‘He for God only, she for God in him’? ‘We, therefore, have to take into account the givens — the fixed points of interpretation that he was unavoidably compelled to work with or to work around’.

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To conclude, we can say that, Milton has reproduced the God’s word, so he can not be solely accountable for the way women are presented in Milton’s epic. He illustrates the story of fall Under the light of Biblical one. Discrimination between men and women has created since the creation phase of human being. Milton is reproducing the word of God. He is not the originator of the story regarding the fall of Adam and Eve. So, he is not solely responsible for the Misogynisticness we have experienced in the book Paradise Lost.

Works Cited

  2. ‘The Problem of Misogyny in Milton’s Work.’ Grades Fixer, 04 Jun. 2018, 
  3. Feminist and Non-Feminist Views on Miltons …
  4. Bouvier,
  5. Ishanthi  Dissanayake. “Portrayal of Women in Milton’s Paradise Lost.” Google.Com, 2019,
  6. Ferry, Anne, “Milton’s Creation of Eve”.Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 28.1 (1998):113- 132. Web.

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