The most famous line in the poem belongs to Satan: “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n”. And Satan makes some convincing arguments until he is just plain mean to my friend, Eve. Poor Eve.
I am not a real feminist, mostly because the world has been pretty good to me and even the Old Boys’ Club lets me play in the Clubhouse from time to time. But my closet feminist self is the true and honest reason that I cannot embrace organized religion and it is from that perspective, (egged on by Professor Rogers) that I was attacking this piece.
Rogers says that Eve is “doctrinally wrong” in Paradise Lost, but that she asks some really good questions. Although, it can be argued that asking any questions while you are living in Eden is by its nature doctrinally wrong.
Eve is submissive to Adam, and apparently of her own free will. But one of the great things that Milton does is in challenging the very concept of Free Will as it stands opposed to Predestination. The old philosophical question – “If God knows it is going to happen, why doesn’t he stop it?” blahblahblah.
Skip to the part of the text that really hit me. Eve wakes up one day and suggests to Adam that he go work in one part of the garden and she will work in another part of the garden. Splitting up for the day so they can get some actual work done. (Apparently Dude can’t keep his eyes off her or something.) Adam doesn’t want to do that, saying that the bad guy is out there ready to be bad and they are safer together. Eve’s counterpoint (a great series of lines) is that if they have to live in fear of the Baddie, they can hardly call it Paradise. It ends with:
And here's what the completely out of the closet feminist Wollstonecraft says about Milton's 'Unargued I obey; so God ordains; God is thy law, thou mine':'These are exactly the arguments that I have used with children; but I have added, your reason is now gaining strength, and, till it arrives at some degree of maturity, you must look up to me for advice – then you ought to think, and only rely on God.'Take that, Milton!