Friday, Aug. 05, 2005 | 2:04 p.m.
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Okay, just for the session, but still... I'm having a nap, followed by an evening of beer and more sleep. And I won't have to read anything I don't like.
So. The women's studies final was hard. There is a book for the class, and we read it, but the only way it was really connected to the lecture was via theme. The test was over the lectures, which means you better have really good notes and you better know which points were most important. Without the help of Powerpoint or much writing on the board. What's frustrating is that I know I got all the main concepts. I studied. But I don't know if I wrote what she wanted me to write. The worst case scenario is a B, so...
The English rest was easier -- I was surprised how easy, actually, and sat for five full minutes making sure I hadn't missed something. Most of the test was over either "The Tempest," which I loved, or "Paradise Lost," which I didn't.
Here was my final take on Milton:
I want to say that Iíve enjoyed Paradise Lost, but the truth is, Iím a terrible liar, and I havenít enjoyed it at all. Iím glad this came at the end of the session because it is the only thing weíve read that I really had to grit my teeth and force my way through. Itís not the language. Iíve read parts of it before, in high school, and I get it. Lack of understanding and/or struggling with the form is not my problem. Itís the story itself and its stark reflection of misogyny and zealotry.
I get that Milton (whoíve Iíve taken to calling Milty the Misogynist in my head) is incredibly gifted. I get the complexity and beauty of the form. Yes, the descriptions of these mythical places are breath-taking and rich. Itís just too hard for me to get beyond the biblical subject matter and the assumptions of ďtruthĒ and righteousness that go with it. I was annoyed by the typical Christian treatment of other mythologies as inferior. In fact, the story pretty much exemplified all I find annoying about certain sects and time periods of Christianity Ė damnation of other religions and vilification of women. I know it has to be taken in the historical context Ė still I find even that horrifying. Milton is basically on the same road as Kramer and Sprenger (of "Malleus Mallificarum" fame), a road that ultimately led to hatred and death. I canít swallow it without retching.
This story was explicitly written to ďjustify the ways of God to men,Ē so maybe itís not surprising that I was annoyed. When I read it, all I could see was demonization of other religions and women. For me, reading Milton was sort of like finding a really beautiful piece of fruit and biting into it to find bitterness and rot. The form and beauty of his art does not, for me, mask the bitterness of the preachy subject matter. I spent more time squelching the desire to point out the problems with Miltonís reasoning (which would be expected, right, as Iím a puny free-willed woman wrestling with the gift of Reason) and ideology than anything else.
I recognize Miltonís place in history, in this class and in this book. I understand why itís important. It just left a foul taste in my mouth.
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