Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Milton & Relationships


Adam and Eve’s unbalanced relationship dynamic is usually read in the light of divinely appointed dominance and submission, but when compared to Milton’s own sentiments in his divorce tracts the theme is less of an adulation of traditional values and more of a criticism of the society that provided them.


“Sole Eve, assosciate sole, to me beyond
Compare above all living creatures dear,
Well hast thou motioned, well thy thoughts employed
How we might best fulfil the work which here
God hath assigned us, nor of me shalt pass
Unpraised: for nothing lovelier can be found
In woman than to study household good,
And good works in her husband promote.” - Book 9, lines 227-234

"And in herself complete so well to know
Her own that what she wills to do or say
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best.
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded. Wisdom in discourse with her
Loses discount'nanced and like folly shows." -Book 8, lines 548-553

"God is thy law, thou mine: to know no more is woman's happiest knowledge and her praise." Book 4, lines 637-638

God tells Adam "warn thy weaker" (Eve), and "let it profit thee to have heard by terrible example the reward of disobedience" Book 6, lines 909-911

Adam says, "solitude sometimes is best society, and short retirement urges sweet return." Book 9, lines 249-250

Prospective Sources:

Very rough outline:

I. Introduction
II. Context
A. Milton’s marital situation at the time of the tracts
B. The tracts themselves
C. Adam and Eve’s relationship
III. Imbalance of relationships
IV. Doomed from the start?
V. Hope for the future
IV. Conclusion

1 comment:

  1. Elaine, this is a neat topic to write on! I'm curious to see how this goes because everyone (I think) does think of Adam and Eve as the perfect couple. Maybe temper the flaws in their relationship with the good moments (in your hope for the future section). Are you going to compare Adam and Eve with the idolized version of marriage that Milton writes about (intellectual equals) or his own unhappy marriage? It might be difficult to classify Adam and Eve as unhappy (though they do have lots of spats) because I think Milton does portray them as a loving couple, or else why would Adam eat the fruit?