Title of the Poem Eve’s Apology in Defense of Women

The title of the poem sums up the two attitudes that Aemilia Lanyer presents about women – one of an apologetic Eve, another of all women who are considered subordinate to all men. In the title itself, she offers Eve as a representative of all women, who must ‘apologize’ for the crime against humanity on behalf of all women. On the other hand, the title highlights how unjustly and unfairly all women are punished for a sin they did not commit and how their oppression is justified by presenting them as the prime bearers of the burden of Original Sin and as fickle and weak-minded. Through her use of satire and irony, Lanyer turns this argument on its head by saying that if women are weaker and men stronger, why did Adam give into the temptation along with Eve? If he sins despite being stronger, his fault is bigger than Eve’s. The title suggests that Lanyer posits a difference between Eve and all the other women. While Eve must apologize for her actions, her apology is not necessarily meant for her sin of eating the forbidden fruit but as a means of defending all women and freeing them from her guilt. In doing so, Lanyer presents a sisterhood between all women and a sense of female community who not only celebrate each other’s achievements but also defend each other’s actions.

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