In Paradise Lost, Milton puts forth the idea that an innate difference exists between man and woman, claiming “For contemplation he and valor formed, / For softness she and sweet attractive grace; / He for God only, she for God in him” (Paradise Lost IV.296-298). For centuries, these three lines have been the topic of debate among poets and writers from every literary genre. Some have declared Milton to be an early chauvinist, criticizing him for supporting the notion that women should have no functional purpose within society, while others have maintained that the famous three lines prove him to be an advocate for women’s rights, asserting that Milton was disparaging this kind of attitude toward women, not condoning it. A similar issue
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However, it is not long before Laura is overcome with curiosity about the strange creatures that “[tramp] [d]own the glen” (55) and gives in to their “sugar-baited words” (234) urging her to “come buy” their enchanted wares. Lizzie knew the danger of giving in to the temptation and “thrust a dimpled finger / In each ear, shut eyes and ran” (67-68). Once Laura has indulged herself in the “fruit globes (. . .) [that were] Sweeter than honey from the rock” (128-129), she returns home and tells Lizzie of her succulent feast.
There exists within the first few pages of the poem an unmistakable allusion to the story of Adam and Eve’s fall from Eden . It is no surprise to find a reference to the story of Adam and Eve in a poem that can easily be read as a criticism of the social oppression of women. As evidenced by the lines taken from Paradise Lost, it is common for writers to focus on the relationship between Adam and Eve when discussing where women fall within the social hierarchy. Rossetti’s comparison In considering this, the reader must identify Laura as being the Eve figure that is tempted by a creature and tricked into eating that which is forbidden to her. Once she has eaten what has been offered her by the merchant men, Laura has fallen from grace . Lizzie, however, has resisted the taunts of the goblins, and so seems to prevail as the