ABSTRACT

In Paradise Lost, Milton places marriage at the center of social institutions. It is from the point of view of marriage that all social roles and attitudes are defined and judged valuable or destructive. Sibling relationships and parental roles function to establish and maintain male authority. Male-female relations in the human sphere reflect the pattern of dominance and submission characteristic of the divine sphere, where it is seen particularly in the relationship of the Father to the Son. Adam's prelapsarian role is analogous to that of God. He is defined as creator, author, disposer, while Eve is confined to being a source of inspiration, and to the roles of mother and wife, summed up in her title “Mother of mankind.” After the Fall, Eve must learn through pain, humiliation, and abasement that she should not have striven for equality with Adam, that her duty is to be submissive to him as wife and mother. In general, worldly activity belongs to the man: he is artist, ruler, intellect. The woman's role is to be procreative, skilled in domesticity, and obedient to her husband, upon whom she depends for education and guidance. Her freedom is fully expressed in her fulfillment of her family role as wife and mother.

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