Saturday, January 23, 2010

Eve's Coyness

We had only started talking about gender roles in Paradise Lost towards the end of Thursday's discussion; I wish we could have discussed it further! I find the role of gender to be among the most compelling themes in the text. As we were saying, the manipulative rhetoric Eve uses to sway Adam is clearly a comment from Milton on how women obtain power in their relationships. I found another passage in book four that seems to support the idea that Milton's portrayal of women via Eve is a cunning, coy and hardly doe-eyed one. When she and Adam have their first sexual encounter, Eve is not described as a damsel, but as a woman who deliberately uses her charm to affect gentleness and gentility. Milton uses phrases like "coy submission", "modest pride" and "sweet reluctance"to describe her, all of which fit into a portrait of women that is anything but innocent (IV, 308-310). Earlier in this very passage, Milton writes that Eve was meant to glorify Adam, but to me it seems that she is expert in manipulating him with her feminie wiles. What does this say about the nature of women in their romantic relationships with men? To me it seems that Milton attributes a great deal of power to women despite the societal rules and conventions that keep them technically as the inferior sex, and this power is to manipulate and corrupt.

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