Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

English (M.A.)

Department

English

First Advisor

Kathleen Blumreich

Second Advisor

Benjamin Lockerd

Third Advisor

Jo Miller

Abstract

Critics have observed how Satan‘s personality changes dramatically over the course of Milton‘s Paradise Lost, but what they have missed is that this transformation in his character is due to an identity crisis that spirals into a gender shift. There are no studies of Satan as feminine. Drawing upon feminist theory, I contend that it is important for readers to see Satan as a female voice in Paradise Lost and not as a positive one at that. In Milton‘s attempt to ―justify the ways of God to men‖ he, by necessity, must explain the character and purpose of Satan in the fall of mankind. Milton‘s perception of ―woman,‖ coupled with his desire to provide a way for people of his time to understand Satan and the Fall, led to his creation of decidedly feminized Satan. Since evil was, in Milton‘s time, more closely associated with the mysteries of the feminine sphere, for Milton to create Satan as a character that weighs heavily on the female side seems inevitable. Throughout his depiction of Satan, Milton suggests that balance within gender and between the genders is essential to the maintenance of harmony. Without such a balance, there is only chaos, which is precisely what Satan embodies and performs.

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