Paradise Lost

Feminism in Paradise Lost Book IX College

Milton’s construction of Eve in Paradise Lost is beset with dithering ambiguity, with her identity being defined and redefined within. The text has been construed during the Restoration, on the backdrop of the libertine culture and the increasingly active social role of women. Women’s identities were being redefined, in terms of their virtue and ‘use’ value while their autonomy was being questioned. Milton’s portrayal of Eve has been touted both anti and proto-feminist, often derived from her interactions with Adam and later, Satan. Questions about her autonomy as a ‘reasoning’ self constantly under the ‘gaze’ in a masculine ethos are thrashed out in the epic, with the ambiguities being highlighted in Book 9. Milton’s Eve is quite different from her Bible counterpart, for here, her character is allowed much visual and discursive space, with focusing on her evolving sexuality and the resulting effects. This essay will attempt to sketch Eve’s interaction with the existing masculine power structures while actively engaging with the notions of ‘Choice’, ‘Responsibility’ and ‘Control’. Moreover, it will try to figure out the evolving ambiguities from within and analyse whether Eve’s becoming a woman is overtly a proto-feminist...

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