[Milton-L] just struggling

Walker at geneseo.edu Walker at geneseo.edu
Sat Feb 5 17:58:50 EST 2005

"Undoubtedly neither God nor Satan are nearly as misogynist as Paul."

Oh, yawn.

I have just joined this list, hoping for something like the level of
discussion we get on the Spenser list.    Is this exchange typical? 
should I claw back that  space in my IN Box?

Milton's God, Milton's Satan, Milton's Eve, and Paul -- whoever and how
many people constitute Paul --  are cultural constructs, no?  (And if your
blood pressure is rising about Paul, read some more about the Council of
Nicea.)  You are discussing them as if they were running for office in the
here and now.

Whether or not Milton's Eve is intrinsically more frail than Milton's Adam
is an open question only if you haven't read Book IV.  The lake scene,
always called the pool scene because we all hear the Ovidian Narcissus
echo so deafeningly, is about as unambiguous as it gets.

Eve is weaker.  Does this make Milton a misogynist?  Have we flashed back
to the 1970s and Gilbert and Gubar?  Or even back to Woolf?  How about
someone re-reading Patricia Parker's "Coming Second"?

What Eve becomes (as Milton's character) may be open to debate, but let's
not start imaging her having coffee at Starbucks -- or working as a
barista serving Paul his half-caff skinny latte.  But by the same token,
could someone please explain to me what makes racism or sexism disarming
if it's found in the (not The) garden?

One of my friends recently sent me a neologism at which I laughed: 
"presentism."  I laughed because I thought lit people were beyond that
sort of anachronistic fiddling.  Seems I'm wrong.

off to Starbucks,

Julia Walker

On Saturday, February 5, 2005, at 02:59  PM, Hugh Wilson wrote:

The issue of whether or not Milton portrays
Eve as really intrinsically more frail than Adam
is an open question.  Some scholars, like John
Ulreich, have credibly argued that Eve is heroic.
In some significant respects, she seems morally
superior to Adam.

When Milton was three, in Salve Deus Rex
Judaeorum [1611], Emilia Lanier had already
argued that Adam was more culpable
for the fall than Eve.

Hugh Wilson
hwilson at together.net
(518) 562-8027

P.S.  Also, as an aside, insofar as
"misogyny" means the hate of women,
Paul isn't "misogynist" at all.  The word
is devalued by being over-used.  Jason
in Euripides' Medea is expresses genuine
misogynist sentiments when he wishes
that women never existed, and that men
could produce children some other way.

Garden variety sexism or unconscious
prejudice isn't misogyny anymore than
the garden varieties of unconscious racism
are tantamount to membership in the
Aryan Nation.

Given the questions about Paul's authorship
of the most controversial epistles, and the
is debate about what they really meant, it
seems that we should be more circumspect.

At 06:35 PM 2/3/2005, you wrote:
I think to answer your questions you'd have to ask either God or the Devil
directly.  The best I can do is point to a textual tradition that Milton
may have been following.  Undoubtedly neither God nor Satan are nearly as
misogynist as Paul.


BlevinsJake at aol.com wrote:


Paul of course wrote from the perspective that Satan's deception of Even
already occurred, so yes it was woman who was deceived. The question, I
guess, would be did it have to be that way? PL depicts an Adam who, I
believe, could have been swayed--albeit, as I said before, perhaps by a
different mode of attack. The very fact that Adam is not "tricked" by Eve
but falls with full knowledge, so to speak, makes it difficult for me to
imagine that he couldn't have been tricked into doing the same thing.
You're right that an important aspect becomes why did Satan choose to go
after Eve first--it could just be Milton's following the "historical"
account of the story or the general idea that woman is somehow a lesser
version of man, or Satan was privy to Eve's attitudes toward herself at
the pool. Regardless, none of that necessitates the idea that Eve was
without a doubt more vulnerable to the attack--only that Eve was indeed
vulnerable. Remember, Satan HOPES to find Eve alone, but isn't he prepared
to tempt the both of them if need be?


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