Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The accusation of misogyny continues to be levelled at Milton despite, indeed often because of the critical attention his women continue to evoke. Is woman the instrument of redemption, or the cause of t he fall -- such questions remain hotly debated today. In Milton's poetry the portraits of Eve and Dalila offer the ambiguities which critics so relish; it strikes this reader that both portraits are sympathetically painted, especially if we allow the artist his donnee -- woman is inferior to man, beneath him on the great chain of being. This allowance simultaneously excuses a good deal of their weakness while pointing accusingly at their male counterparts who ought to be, but are not always, stronger and wiser. In both Paradise Lost and Samson Agonistes, women act as the agents for some type of masculine fall; they are not, however, the cause of that fall. Both participate in the recovery from the fall as well, Eve wittingly, Dalila without knowing what she does and working counter to her own intentions. At any rate, the following analysis will attempt to define the weaknesses and strengths of Milton's women in relation to men, compare feminine to masculine guilt, and discover to what extent these women can be seen as sympathetically portrayed.