"He For God Only, She For God In Him"

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 150

Context: True to his time and to the tradition his generation inherited, Milton does not see the sexes as equal; rather, for him, as the poem shows, the sexes are complementary in the scheme of creation. To man Milton gives "Absolute rule," gently administered. To woman Milton gives subjection, "Yielded with coy submission, modest pride,/ and sweet reluctant amorous delay." Before the Fall, Adam and Eve dwell together in Paradise with no bickering, no lack of co-operation: what they do they do together, under Adam's direction. Theirs is marital bliss, such as was unknown in Milton's first marriage, to Mary Powell. The poet apparently tries to idealize what he would have liked to find in his own first marital experience:

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. . . both
Not equal, as their sex not equal seemed;
For contemplation he and valor formed,
For softness she and sweet attractive grace,
He for God only, she for God in him.

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