Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Reader 1

Marissa Nicosia

Reader 2

John Peavoy

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Rights Information

© 2015 Emily R. Kolpien


In the span of this thesis, I investigate the queer nature of John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, and argue that in spite of the biblical subject matter it is in fact a text filled with instances of queer transgression. I focus on preexisting feminist critiques of Milton in my introduction in order to ground myself within the academic field, and in order to illustrate how I will be branching out from it. In my first chapter, I discuss the queered nature of the poem’s landscapes, such as Chaos and Hell, and the specifically queer and masculine nature of reproduction, such as Sin’s birth out of Satan’s head and Eve’s birth from Adam’s rib. I then turn to an in-depth discussion of Sin in Chapter Two, illustrating how she is punished with reproduction and sexual violence, and how this contrasts with her queer birth while illustrating the poem’s problematic stance toward fallen women. In my final chapter, I tackle the character of Eve, and argue that her narcissistic scene at the lake after her birth reveals her queer sexual desire for her feminine reflection. I also discuss how the poem sexualizes Sin and Eve, and how their physical appearances illustrate the state of women in the poem. I finish by arguing that a queer perspective of Milton is important because it allows modern critics to view as both illuminating and empowering.