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Eve's Apology in Defense of Women

Publication Date: June 1, 2011

Chapter: English Literature in the Early Seventeenth Century

Before we begin, I should mention that this poem is excerpted from a larger work. In the above link, search the page for line 745. That's where the Norton begins its coverage.

Now then, "Eve's Apology." It's an interesting beast, and - I suppose - it can be interpreted in a few different ways. The gist, insofar as I can see it, is that Eve has historically gotten a bad rap, and that she doesn't deserve the blame for eating the forbidden fruit. The reasoning given in this argument is that Adam, as Eve's master, should've been keeping a closer eye on her to begin with. Which is to say, Lanyer posits that Adam was responsible for Eve's fruit-eating in the same way today's parents should be responsible for their kids playing violent video games. You can't blame the kids - they don't really know any better. It's the job of parents to keep their children on the straight and narrow, just as it was Adam's job to keep Eve in line.

Which is to say, this entire poem is quite the backhanded compliment. The fall of man wasn't Eve's fault? Awesome. It wasn't her fault because Adam should've been treating her like an irresponsible child to begin with? That's... less great. As far as feminism goes, we're talkin' one step forward and two steps back here.

In any event, strips like this are why I needed to introduce James into the comic to begin with. So yay for having male characters lying about, just in case.

Author: Aemilia Lanyer • Year: 1611 • Info: The Internet

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