Feminist approaches

  • Margarita Stocker
Part of the The Critics Debate book series


Feminist criticism has been the most fecund recent growth area in Milton studies, but the general issue of Milton’s attitude towards women has been standard critical equipment for some time. Arguably ‘the one thing that almost every undergraduate “knows” about Milton is that he was a misogynist’ [Rudrum, 1969, 13]. But things are not as simple as the popular view suggests. One of the first avowedly feminist critics of Milton insists that ‘It is unreasonable to argue that Milton was a misogynist’ [Landy, 1976, 11]. If so, how did that view gain such hold? Its most significant source is biographical, the failure of Milton’s first marriage to Marie Powell, commonly assumed to be the motive for his tracts arguing the legitimacy of divorce. Even in his own lifetime, political opponents cast that marriage in his face, along with anything else that could defame him. But the decisive popularisation of Milton’s misogyny was Johnson’s.


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© Margarita Stocker 1988

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  • Margarita Stocker

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