Notes on Paradise Lost Themes

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Paradise Lost Topic Tracking: Misogyny

Book 4

Misogyny 1: Satan explains that Adam's "eye sublime declared absolute rule." Book 4, lines 300-1. In Satan's opinion, Adam rules Eve as a king rules one of his subjects.

Misogyny 2: Eve reminisces to Adam about the first day she encountered Adam and how she looked at him meekly and submissively and surrendered to him. Here, Eve is portrayed as weak and powerless against the stronger Adam.

Book 6

Misogyny 3: He tells Adam "warn thy weaker" (i.e., Eve), and "let it profit thee to have heard by terrible example the reward of disobedience." Book 6, line 909-11. Raphael explains that Eve is weaker than Adam, a thought previously expressed by Satan.

Book 9

Misogyny 4: With Adam's permission, Eve goes, assuring Adam that the proud foe would not stoop to seeking out the weaker of the two. Eve echoes Raphael by calling herself the weaker one. She has assumed the role that others have explained she must fulfill.

Misogyny 5: Satan tells himself how happy he is not to see Adam, since Adam is of a higher intellectual capacity than Eve. This is the first mention specifically of Eve being of a lesser intellectual capacity, and Satan is ready to take advantage of her because of it.

Misogyny 6: Oblivious, Eve is thrilled to have received knowledge, and wonders whether she should let Adam partake in it or not tell him and keep it to her advantage so to "render [herself] more equal." Book 9, line 825. Here, for one brief moment in the poem, Eve envisions a way for she and Adam to be equal. This is her first "transgression" from following others' notions that she should submit to Adam.

Misogyny 7: Adam closes by saying he who trusts women too much should be prepared to be accused if evil ensues. Adam clearly believes men can't trust women, and if they go ahead and trust them anyway, they should be ready to face the consequences.

Book 10

Misogyny 8: The Son asks Adam if Eve was his God or superior, since his "perfection far excelled hers in all real dignity." Book 10, line 150-1. The Son tells Adam he was foolish to believe Eve, since she is imperfect.

Misogyny 9: Adam calls Eve nature's defect and says that men will never find fit mates. This is Adam at the depths of his despair after sinning, and at his most misogynist moment.

Misogyny 10: Adam loses all his anger and forgives Eve for being more frail and infirm by nature of her sex. In Adam's ideology, Eve is excused since she was too weak to defend herself from the serpent. Interestingly, Eve's inferiority becomes both the reason she transgressed God's rule, and the reason she should be forgiven.

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