Rethinking Hawaa: Gender in Abdilatif Abdalla’s Utenzi wa Maisha ya Adamu na Hawaa through the Lens of John Milton’s Paradise Lost

This article by Meg Arenberg analyzes the representation of Hawaa (Eve) in Kenyan poet Abdilatif Abdalla’s epic poem Utenzi wa Maisha ya Adamu na Hawaa [Epic of the Life of Adam and Eve]. Building on Alamin Mazrui’s contention that the poem can be compared to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, scholarly debate on Milton’s treatment of Eve becomes a lens through which to more closely examine Abdalla’s Hawaa and the larger gender implications of her role in the poem’s narrative.

Close reading of Abdalla’s poem through this lens reveals a far less misogynistic interpretation of Hawaa than previous critics of the poem have recognized. Taking into consideration Abdalla’s depiction of Hawaa’s creation, her role in the couple’s transgression against God, and her relationship with Adam before and after their expulsion from Paradise, this article argues that the poet offers Hawaa as an archetype not of female inferiority and treachery but of human fallibility and capacity for growth. Download and read the article below.


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