Marriage and Gender Relations

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Milton opened up the right of divorce in an age when divorce was unmentionable in society and prohibited by nearly all denominations and religions. The only ground for a lawful divorce in Milton’s time usually involved some sort of sexual incompatibility due to unlawful relations outside of the marriage. John Milton’s discussion of marriage and gender relations in “Paradise Lost” can be critically analyzed through his portrayal of the purpose of marriage in “Doctrine of Discipline and Divorce”. Having read Paradise Lost through the understanding of Milton in his prose work, titled the “Doctrine of Discipline and Divorce” allows for a deeper understanding of his misogynist views and the disposition of Adam and Eve in “Paradise Lost”. Milton argues that the main purpose allowed for divorce is adultery and that it is not nearly as important as a couple’s incompatibility. In Paradise Lost, Milton intends to “justify the ways of God to men”. He proposes that man’s disobedience results in the loss of Paradise. He is clear to define the fault of all downfalls and therefore is careful to justify the purpose and need for lawful divorce. In “Doctrine of Discipline and Divorce,”Milton argues that if a married couple is forced to remain together for life in an un-happy marriage that it is truly an offense to the dignity of God’s creation. Therefore an incompatible marriage is not of God’s choosing. So then if Christ is to be taken as condemning all divorce, except for that of adultery, and re-marriage is considered adultery, then the earlier law of marriage has been contradicted. Not only has it been convicted of adultery but God is then considered to carry inconsistencies and is therefore unfair to the human race. The “Doctrine of Discipline and Divorce” directly challenges the doctrine of eternal marriage as well as the warrants of divorce. With this said, Milton strongly supports that incompatibility should be considered lawful grounds for divorce with the ability of...
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