The critical separation scene between Adam and Eve in Book IX of Paradise Lost has long been something of a crux for Milton's readers. Recent critical opinion of the passage has seen in it chiefly an indictment of Adam: for one group of readers, he ls the overbearing husband trying to suppress the burgeoning independence of his wife; for another, he fails as a spiritual leader in not suppressing that independence enough. I would like to offer an alternative reading of the passage by redirecting our attention to the simple dynamics of what we must remember is ultimately a prelapsarian debate between disputants who are, as a consequence, inherently guiltless. Rather than exploring who is most responsible for the loss of Paradise, Milton shows us chiefly in this scene what occurs in discourse when unfallen humans are simply unable to agree.
Philological Review: Publications of the Arkansas Philological Association
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Curlin, Jay, "Casual Discourse Lost: The Separation of Adam and Eve" (1994). Articles. 246.