Eve, Paradise Lost, and Female Interpretation

Susan Wiseman

in The Oxford Handbook of Milton

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697885
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Eve, Paradise Lost, and Female Interpretation

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
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This article addresses how John Milton deals with the question of Eve, obedience, and the Fall in relation to the interpretations of the poet Aemillia Lanyer, the polemicist Rachel Speght, the prophet Anna Trapnel, and the Quaker Margaret Fell. It seems more likely that in imagining Eve Milton responded to the controversy over women's preaching and participation in the separatist and sectarian congregations that proliferated during the English Civil Wars. Although Speght and Fell are using Eve differently, both focus on her potential after the events in paradise; both insist on her prophesied redemptive role as the factor that should influence interpretation of Eve in the present. Comparing Paradise Lost with some women's writings on Eve has not delivered a unified feminist view, shared by women, to set against Milton's poem.

Keywords: John Milton; Aemillia Lanyer; Rachel Speght; Anna Trapnel; Margaret Fell; Paradise Lost; Eve; obedience; Fall

Article.  6557 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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