Towards a Miltonic Mariology: the word and the body of Mary in Paradise Regain’d (1671)


  • Joan Curbet Soler Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


Gender, motherhood, selfhood, epic


It is a recurring critical topos that John Milton’s Paradise Regain’d (1671) is a revisionist poem, one that works towards reframing and redefining the epic tradition; what has certainly been less noticed is the central function played by the character of Mary, the mother of Christ, in this revisionist process. This article will try to prove that Mary’s appearances in the poem are, though limited, essential to its content and to its perspective on the interrelated subjects of the revelation of God in history and the individual confrontation with historical forces; and it will try to do so by bringing together theological discussion and a gender-oriented approach.

There have certainly been approaches to Paradise Regain’d that have explored some of the gender issues brought about by the poem’s modification of the heroic function: almost unanimously, these approaches have concentrated on the character of the Son. My intention here, however, is another: I will try to show how the function and voice of Mary in the poem set in motion a complex, rich network of implications


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