"Paradise Lost": The danger of the feminine
Zsolnay, Lauren M.
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" Paradise Lost : The Danger of the Feminine" analyzes and examines the roles of Sin, Eve and Adam in a gendered reading of the epic. Milton's Sin emphasizes the danger of the feminine and the virgin/whore dichotomy wherein she combines beauty and seduction with the grotesque, demonstrating both the appeal and the revulsion of disobedience and the projection of masculine fears about the horror of feminine sexuality. Milton contrasts the fatal allure and destructive temptation of women throughout literature with his fallen Sin who is the embodiment of misogynistic tradition and with the ambiguous Eve whom he, in part, attempts to clear of traditional stereotypes. She is at first presented as a woman who is subject to male authority, but later establishes herself as a strong, curious and prideful woman. Adam is explored as a man whose primary flaw is being unable to use reason and his God-given authority over Eve as he should, which inextricably leads to their temptation. The essay will explore both Milton's departure from tradition and his misogynistic tendencies to assert the truth about Milton's characters and explore the diverse attitudes about gender issues within the epic.