Of Man’s First Disobedience

Question 1: Why does Milton hate Eve so much?

Milton definitely portrays Eve as the weaker sex. She’s less intelligent and can’t communicate directly with God. However, that’s completely contrary to the actual Bible. Sure, men were mostly chosen by God to be prophets, and kings. But women, while fewer in number as holders of power, were arguably far more important than men. Mary is more revered than Joseph, for example. I think that Milton definitely put a lot of his own opinions into Paradise Lost, and that’s why it’s important to consider the fact that Paradise Lost is basically a fan fiction retelling of its source material. God didn’t hate Eve for disobeying, but Milton definitely portrays it that way, putting the entire blame on Eve for being a silly woman rather than how both Adam and Eve were at fault:

Eve, in evil hour thou didst give eare

To that false Worm, of whomsoever taught

To counterfet Mans voice, true in our Fall,

False in our promis’d Rising

Question 2: How does Satan change throughout the narrative?

In Book 1, Satan was a sympathetic character, which was probably a controversial take on the Bible in his time. Satan’s intentions are completely understandable at first – Satan wants to be independent and not have to follow God’s rule over the angels. Throughout, he’s portrayed as a military leader who sometimes doubts his intentions. But in Book 9, Satan completely commits to his evil purpose and causes the fall of Adam and Eve. It’s a really interesting character arc, where Satan starts out as a three dimensional, sympathetic villain, and then devolves steadily into a completely evil force.

4 thoughts on “Of Man’s First Disobedience

  1. I agree that it is somewhat of fanfiction and think that this is a really good point that I haven’t thought of yet. I like the comparisons to the bible and the idea that Milton was purposefully making it how he would prefer, rather than how it was actually portrayed, and think that this is very important to note. The over-exaggeration of the piece plays a big factor in how the characters come across.

  2. I think this really goes to show how religious texts can be so easily misconstrued simply by people’s opinions. Milton’s opinion of women was clearly that we are weak and easily give into temptation, therefore making us the lesser sex; so he portrayed these views in his work. Too often religion is used as a way to excuse racist and sexist views, like how the story of ham in the old testament was used for years to justify racist ideals. I assume Milton was using religion as a way to justify his own misogynistic views.

  3. Some literary scholars have argued that Milton hated Eve *less* than the average man in the 17th century, that by comparison he was promoting a more equal representation of women. I find that a hard argument to swallow, though.

  4. As everyone else who have already commented here has stated, I never put two and two together in seeing that Milton was sexist towards woman. Now that I think back to the temptation scene, I see it now. Satan showered her with compliments about her looks, intellect, and desire to prove herself to God. When Eve ate the apple, it was also Eve who made Adam eat the apple because it was his duty as her husband. I never knew this was different from the bible version and now has shaken my whole POV about this text

Leave a Reply