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Representations of the fall 1 pamphlets and sermons
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Representations of the fall 1 pamphlets and sermons

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Part of a presentation situating John Milton’s Paradise Lost in a cross-disciplinary, cultural discourse that engenders the Fall as feminine— …

Part of a presentation situating John Milton’s Paradise Lost in a cross-disciplinary, cultural discourse that engenders the Fall as feminine—
a discourse that employs Eve as an agent for propelling negative stereotypes of women

Aughterson, Kate, ed. Renaissance Woman: A Sourcebook: Constructions of Femininity in England. New York: Routledge, 1995. Print.

Usher Henderson, Katherine, and Barbara F. McManus. Half Humankind: Contexts and Texts of the Controversy about Women in England, 1540-1640. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1985. Print.


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  • 1. Pamphlets & Sermons
  • 2. Swetnam presents women both as -easily deceived- “… (Eve) was no sooner made but straightway her mind was set upon mischief, for by her aspiring mind and wanton will she quickly procured man’s fall. And therefore ever since they are and have been a woe unto man and follow the line of their first leader.” (193-4) “ And yet women are easily wooed and soon won, got with an apple and lost with the paring.” (204)
  • 3. and as -deceptive-
    • “ Then who can but say that women sprung from the Devil? Whose heads, hands, and hearts, minds and souls are evil, for women are called the hook of all evil because men are taken by them as fish is taken with the hook.” (201)
    • “… the Devil himself hath not more illusions to get men into his net than women have devices and inventions to allure men into their love.” (206)
    • “… (a woman) is simultaneously a source of pleasure and displeasure to man, causing him great delights and yet most cruelly deceiving him.” (202)
  • 4. Sowernam Defends Women
    • “… (God) being a most excellent workmaster, did so Create his works that every succeeding work was ever more excellent than what was formerly created.” (223)
    • “… (God) created her (woman) out of a
    • subject refined…” (224)
    • Since the woman was the more perfected human, her fall was the greater conquest —
    • she was the greater prize for the Serpent to attain. (232)
  • 5. Renaissance Women Stereotyped as: seductive shrewish vain chaste nurturing pious
  • 6.
    • Here beginneth a little book named
    • the Schoolhouse of women ,
    • wherein every man may read
    • a goodly praise of the conditions of women. (1541?)
    • “ I pray you, why was Adam shent (blamed)
    • Because he only did transgress?
    • Eve him moved first to consent;
    • To eat of the apple she did him dress (direct),
    • So all came of her willfulness.
    • And since that woman that offense began,
    • She is more to blame than is the man.” (153)
  • 7. John Calvin , Sermon on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, 1574
    • “… women must needs stoop and understand that the ruin and confusion of all mankind came in on their side, and that through them we be all forlorn and accursed and banished the kingdom of heaven: when women do understand that all this came of Eve and of womankind, there is none other way but for them to stoop and to bear patiently the subjection that God hath laid upon them, which is nothing else but a warning to keep themselves lowly and mild” (Aughterson 17)
  • 8. William Whately, A bride bush First preached as a wedding sermon, 1617
    • “ God hath given it (authority) to him (the husband), saying to our first mother Eve, thy desire shall be subject to him, and he shall rule over thee…
    • Though my (“the good wife” & Eve’s) sin hath made my place tedious, yet I will confess the truth, mine husband is my superior, my better…
    • Now she shall testify her inferiority in a Christian manner by practicing those two virtues of reverence and obedience, which are appropriate to the place of inferiors.” (Aughterson 31)
  • 9. Matthew Griffith, royal chaplain , Bethel, or a form for families, 1634
    • Justified the wife’s “duty of subjection” as Divinely ordered by
    • creation, “because Adam was first formed,” and
    • corruption, “because Eve was first deformed; and so brought that into the world, which brought the whole world into bondage. [Rom. 8:20: For the creature was made subject to vanity.]” (Aughterson 157-8)