Vol. 60 No. 2 (2012)
Research Article

Hierarchical Naming in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Twain’s Diaries of Adam and Eve

Published 2012-06-01


  • classification,
  • toponyms,
  • typology



Mark Twain — author, wit, philosopher, and self-named man — used names and naming throughout his works, not simply to add color, interest, or even characterization, but to shed light on the power struggles between people at different levels of nineteenth-century American society. Twain’s ‘Extracts from Adam’s Diary’ and ‘Eve’s Diary,’ which were directly influenced by one of his greatest literary influences — John Milton, are especially saturated with active naming. In Paradise Lost, Milton describes a hierarchically struc- tured naming system that separates angels from fallen angels, God from man, and man from woman. In Twain’s versions of the creation story, he inverts Milton’s naming structure, instead using naming to demonstrate his anti-imperialist ideals through the dominant naming of Eve.


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