This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Rape Of Proserpina And Eve's Fall In Milton's Paradise Lost

3785 words - 15 pages

The Rape of Proserpina and Eve's Fall in Milton's Paradise Lost

"She pluck'd, she eat" (PL IX.781). With these four monosyllables, Milton succinctly announces the Fall of Eve in Paradise Lost. Eve's Fall, however, is far more complex than a simple act of eating, for her disobedience represents a much greater loss of chastity. Indeed, Milton implies that the Fall is a violation not only of God's sole commandment but also of Eve herself, for Milton implicitly equates Dis's ravishment of Proserpina with Satan's seduction of Eve. Milton weaves the Proserpina myth, as told by Ovid in his Metamorphoses, throughout Paradise Lost as a trope for rape and Eve's loss of virginity, and this culminates in a metaphorical construction of the Fall as a rape of Eve by Satan. Milton's depiction of Eve's ravishment, moreover, is ambivalently misogynistic, for Milton casts Eve as a seductress who has largely engendered her own rape.

Early in Book IV of Paradise Lost Milton compares Eden to beautiful landscapes of classical mythology, while insisting that his Christian Garden is "not" like such pagan settings. Milton's negative syntax implies the ineffability of Eden—this unfallen paradise cannot be described by a fallen poet to fallen readers and certainly cannot be evoked by pagan similes. Yet Milton's lush catalogue of classical landscapes forces an analogy, and as we amble through the myths, we conjure an image of Eden based on its classical precursors. Particularly salient is the first classical allusion, which compares Eden to Enna:

Not that fair field
Of Enna, where Proserpin gath'ring flow'rs
Herself a fairer Flow'r by gloomy Dis
Was gather'd, which cost Ceres all that pain
To seek her through the world

(PL IV.268-72)

This description closely parallels the Proserpina myth in Ovid's Metamorphoses, in which Dis ravishes Proserpina and carries her off to be his queen in the underworld. Ovid begins:

Haud procul Hennaeis lacus est a moenibus altae,nomine
Pergus, aquae; [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]
perpetuum ver est. Quo dum Proserpina luco
ludit et aut violas aut candida lilia carpit,
dumque puellari studio calathosque sinumque
inplet et aequales certat superare legendo,
paene simul visa est dilectaque raptaque Diti.

(Metamorphoses V.385-95) 1

Milton's negative syntax, therefore, not only draws us away from Ovid's Enna but also propels us toward it, for Ovid too employs a negative construction: "Not far from Enna's walls [. . .]" (Met. V.385-6). Furthermore, Milton's progression from the active participle "gath'ring" to the passive "gather'd" mirrors Ovid's progression from "legendo" (gathering) to "rapta" (she has been taken). In addition, Milton directly prefaces the above passage with "th'Eternal Spring" (PL IV.268), much as Ovid tells us that "spring is eternal" (perpetuum ver est).

What resonates in Milton's description, however, are not the enumerated similarities between Eden and Enna but that...

Find Another Essay On The Rape of Proserpina and Eve's Fall in Milton's Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost - Eve's Defective Character

2222 words - 9 pages , aside from Satan, has caught more negative publicity than Ever herself. After tempting Adam to eat the fated apple, Eve becomes the sole reason for the entire human race's fall from grace. She is seen as the original "devil's advocate," but stepping outside of the realm of biblical scholasticism, Milton's Paradise Lost paints quite a different picture. Milton assigns Eve a character, a personality, and in doing so, quite the defense plea. Famed

Analysis of Satan's Speech in in John Milton's Paradise Lost

1112 words - 4 pages Analysis of Satan's Speech in Milton's Paradise Lost       John Milton's Paradise Lost is a work of enduring charm and value because of its theological conceptions, its beautiful language, and its "updating" of the epic to the modern world's values. Book II of this epic poem opens with Satan's speech to his minions in hell, proposing war on Heaven itself. In these first 44 lines, Satan is clearly established as epic hero, but at the

Milton's Paradise Lost

1752 words - 7 pages Milton's Paradise Lost From the War in Heaven through the fall of man in Paradise Lost, Satan's weapon at every point is some form of fraud (Anderson, 135). Milton's Paradise Lost explains the biblical story of Adam and Eve. Although the epic is similar to the Bible story in many ways, Milton's character structure of Satan differs from that of the Bible's version. Milton describes the characters as the way he believes

Sin and Death in John Milton's Paradise Lost

2555 words - 10 pages Sin and Death in Paradise Lost       Abstract: Death assumes in his original argument, with most readers of Paradise Lost, that Satan is all bad, having rejected God, and presumably that his charisma is illusory. Sin assumes, with Empson, that Satan's entire career, including his corruption of Eve, is the project of an all-powerful and sinister God. By the time Satan gets to Mt. Niphates in Book IV he is convinced of both; he

John Milton's Paradise Lost

1695 words - 7 pages In John Milton's Paradise Lost, Satan may be considered a hero by some readers, because he struggles to overcome his own doubts and weaknesses and accomplishes his goal of corrupting mankind. This goal, however, is evil, and proves that Satan is unworthy to hold the title of “hero”. According to Wikipedia, a hero is a person “who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, displays courage and the will for self-sacrifice

Predestination in Book III of John Milton's Paradise Lost

1798 words - 7 pages Predestination in Book III of Paradise Lost   Milton's purpose in Paradise Lost is nothing less than to assert eternal providence and justify the ways of God to men - a most daunting task.  For Milton to succeed in his endeavour, he has to unravel a number of theologiccal thorns that have troubled christian philosophers for centuries.  Since his epic poem is, essentially, a twelve book argument building to a logical conclusion - the

John Milton's Paradise Lost

3120 words - 12 pages John Milton's Paradise Lost John Milton’s Paradise Lost is filled with fantastical tales from the depths of Hell, extravagant descriptions of the fallen angels, and a curious recitation of the council of demons in their new palace. How did Milton dream up such vivid depictions of such horrible demons as the ones we see in Book I? Most of his fallen angels originate in the form of Pagan gods condemned by the Bible, with actual historical

The Fallen Angels in John Milton's Paradise Lost

2210 words - 9 pages , David. Milton. New York: Norton, 1957. Elledge, Scott, ed. Paradise Lost: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Sources, Criticism. New York: Norton, 1975. Fox, Robert C. "The Allegory of Sin and Death in Paradise Lost." Modern Language Quarterly 24 (1963): 354-64. ---. "Milton's 'Sin': Addenda." Philological Quarterly 42 (1963): 120-21. Johnson, Samuel. "Paradise Lost." Elledge 521-34. Lewis, C. S. A Preface to

Satan in John Milton's Paradise Lost

2624 words - 10 pages rebelliousness, his seeking of transcendence and his capacity for action, particularly evil action, change certain people’s viewpoints on him, even if their viewpoint might be considered theologically misleading. The question is: do we actually understand Satan and evil by means of the book Paradise Lost? In John Milton's Paradise Lost, Satan is banished from Heaven for his defiance against God. Satan and the other fallen angels organize and

Connections in John Milton's Paradise Lost

579 words - 2 pages . "Paradise Lost's" initial connections begin with the awesome power of God. Another connection states Satan being theroot of all evil.  The final connection refers to the forgiveness of God. Paradise Lost's ideas and connections have been in use since this epic poem has been written.       The initial idea of "Paradise Lost" states that God is all powerful. God's supreme power is shown throughout "Paradise Lost": "Him

Shelly's Interpretation of Milton's Paradise Lost

897 words - 4 pages Upon reading Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" and John Milton's "Paradise Lost," an obvious correlation sticks out between the two novels. However, after the obvious "Paradise Lost" reference in "Frankenstein," how much do the stories resemble each other? The correlation doesn't jump out in each novel, but it is definitely alive in the characters and meanings of each book.It is unclear whether "Frankenstein" it is an endorsement or criticism of

Similar Essays

Justifying The Ways Of God In Milton's Paradise Lost

1366 words - 5 pages Justifying the Ways of God in Milton's Paradise Lost Through Paradise Lost, Milton ?justifies the ways of God to men?, he explains why man fell and how he is affected by the fall. He shows that although man had a fall it was a fortunate fall, ?felix culpa?. As a result of the fall there are bad outcomes that man and women will endure but it was a fulfillment of God?s purpose. In creating man, God gave him free will; he created him a

Adam In Milton's Paradise Lost Essay

1801 words - 7 pages Adam in "Paradise Lost": Fate's Ruler - and Subject A central problem in John Milton's "Paradise Lost" in the theological issue of free will versus fate, a traditionally much-debated question. Free will is the condition of having control or direction over fate or destiny; the individual shapes his life and future through his actions. The opposing view, complete lack of free will (made famous by John Calvin), is predestination, which

Milton's Satan In Paradise Lost Essay

2026 words - 8 pages Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost After researching Satan and his kingdom, Hell, through the Bible and Paradise Lost to compare and contrast the two characterizations, I realized that Milton must have been a true Bible scholar. Milton’s Satan is described so closely to the Biblical view of Satan that it is often times hard to distinguish the two. Milton changed and elaborated on a few characteristics of his Satan and his Hell in order to

The Fallen Archangel: Defeated By Pride And Revenge Analysis Of Satan In Milton's Paradise Lost

828 words - 3 pages Christian, and although is he in no way trying to depict this tale as being based on real fact, but he wants to convey a Christian message.In conclusion, through detailed descriptions of Satan's conceit, deceit, and pure wickedness, Milton gives the readers a fantastic myth about why the world is how it is today. The purpose of Paradise Lost is to assert eternal providence and justify the ways of God to mankind and with strong eloquence Milton gives this