Misogynistic Treatment Of Eve And Eve's Apology In Defense Of Women

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The fall of Adam and Eve is one of the most widely used biblical stories to justify the misogynistic treatment of women as subordinate to men. In “Eve’s Apology in Defense of Women” by Aemilia Lanyer, Lanyer reinterprets the Fall to support her declaration of equality, as well as relates it to the biblical story of Pilate’s condemnation of Jesus to crucifixion. In contrast, Book IX of Paradise Lost by John Milton carries the same misogynistic arguments customarily used. Whereas “Eve’s Apology” tears down the misogynistic arguments and defends all women, Book IX of Paradise Lost reinforces them in the following ways: the fact that Adam knew precisely the consequences when he ate of the fruit, Adam’s insistence that Eve fell because of her wandering, …show more content…
The misogynistic implications can be found in that Eve cannot do anything on her own, for without Adam’s control over her she disobeyed God and triggered the Fall. Adam is condemning Eve for her want of freedom. “Eve’s Apology” criticizes this insinuation by referring to the second Genesis story of the creation of man and woman, in which Eve is created from a rib of Adam. Traditionally this is used to portray women as a lesser creation since they are created of man; however, Lanyer uses this to downplay the possible evil within Eve: “If any evil did in her remain / Being made of him, he was the ground of all” (Lanyer 65-66). Anything within Eve, including evil, would have come from Adam since she was created of him. In Book IX of Paradise Lost, Eve’s ignorance is what leads to her sin. Satan offers her a number of sound arguments that appeal to her weaknesses. He is very insistent that wisdom is not an offense, and with that wisdom it would be easier to shun evil: “Of evil, if what is evil / Be real, why not known, since easier shunned?” (Milton 698-699). Another large part of his argument is that eating of the fruit would make Adam and Eve, as humans, move up a level to …show more content…
so to add what wants
In female sex, the more to draw his love,
And render me more equal… (Milton 817-823)
Eve is imagining a way for her and Adam to be equals. As she has now eaten of the fruit, she believes she has ascended a level and is now on par with God. This is a clear indication that Eve feels she is not equal to Adam because of her sex. Adam himself ends Book IX by stating men cannot trust women, and if they trust them, they should be ready to face the consequences:
“Thus it shall befall
Him who to worth in women overtrusting
Lets her will rule; restraint she will not brook,
And left to herself, if evil thence ensue,
She first his weak indulgence will accuse.” (Milton 1181-1186)
Adam’s ending argument in Book IX of Paradise Lost unmistakably paints a picture of misogyny that shadows the entire text. As Lanyer argues in “Eve’s Apology,” Adam should have resisted the urge to eat of the fruit since Eve was created later: “For he was Lord and King of all the earth, / Before poor Eve had either life or breath” (Lanyer 39-40). If it was Adam’s responsibility as the first created to follow God’s laws, he should have not followed Eve’s urge instead of God’s commandment; therefore he bears the greater responsibility for the

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