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Literature: John Milton

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Paradise Lost written by John Milton is a detailed version of the book of
Genesis from the Bible. Both stories revolve around a similar basic plot
however, in Paradise Lost, the characters are portrayed differently in a
negative sense. Paradise Lost gives the character Eve more reasons for being
tempted into eating the fruit from the forbidden tree. Eve is also given a more
submissive and unintelligent image in Paradise Lost. The qualities she attains
basically sets up the stage for her to be the one easily tempted by the Devil.
Since the beginning of her creation, Eve understands that she is somewhat
inferior to Adam. She realizes that she was made from his flesh and that he was
created first. Eve is to be subservient to Adam in many ways. She states,
"O thou from whom I was form'd/…and without whom am to no end, my Guide/
and Head (IV. 132: 440-443). Eve believes that she has to follow all orders
given to her by Adam, and that she has no thoughts of her own. Eve continues
giving Adam the title of, "pre-eminent by so much odds, while thou/ like
consort to thyself canst nowhere find (IV. 133:447-448)." Adam and Eve were
to be created equal in God's eyes, however this is not demonstrated in Paradise
Lost. Eve is already being given the quality of being vain in her attempt to try
to explain her forthcoming into Eden. She awoke not knowing where she was. She
had come to a pool of water in which she peered into and saw a reflection of
herself. "Of sympathy and love, there I had fixt/ mine eyes till now, and
pin'd with vain desire (IV. 133:465-466). Eve is being compared with the same
behavior as Narcissus, as being vain. However, Eve is still innocent and has yet
to discover her fall. Milton is already attributing negative qualities to Eve,
which makes her "flawed" in a sense whereas Adam is not. Adam is aware
he has control over Eve, "he in delight/ both of her Beauty and submissive
Charms(IV. 134:498). Eve again addresses Adam as her creator, "God is thy
law, thou mine (IV. 138:637). Adam seems to be enjoying the fact that Eve is so
submissive to him. This is not fair to Eve, she should be created with the same
authority as Adam. If they are so called "partners," then they should
equally collaborate on decisions. Milton foreshadows Eve's fall when he refers
to the myth of Pandora's box. Adam and Eve are exchanging marital vows while
Milton describes Eve as, "More lovely than Pandora, whom the Gods/ endow'd
with all their gifts, and O too like/ in sad event..she ensnar'd/ mankind with
her fair looks, to be aveng'd/ on him who had stole Jove's authentic fire(IV.
140:714-719)." Pandora is responsible for letting evil into the world by
opening the box. This parallels to Eve eating of the forbidden fruit and
releasing evil into the world. Pandora is blamed much like the blame is put on
Eve. Milton seems to impute many ill qualities to women. While Adam and Eve are
asleep, the Devil notices the vulnerability and innocent qualities of Eve. Eve
becomes the Devils "prey" as he appears to her in her dream. She
states to Adam who has awakened her, "I have dreamed/ ..of offence and
trouble, which my mind/ knew never till this irksome night(V. 150:31-35)."
She dreamt that she encountered the Tree of Knowledge and that it appeared so
fair and appealing to the senses. This frightens her because she knows it is
forbidden and that in her dream she was so tempted into eating from it. Raphael
visits Adam, not Eve, to warn him of the enemy and danger that is potential. For
some reason, Eve is not worthy enough or wouldn't understand what Raphael has to
say. Adam is basically the messenger for Eve. Adam is responsible for teaching
Eve the things she needs to know, like the danger of temptation ahead. Let one
take into account why the serpent would chose to tempt Eve. Eve is obviously
portrayed as more gullible and vulnerable than Adam. The serpent knows not to
even try to tempt Adam because he would not be able to. Eve is lacking in the
willpower and the ability to chose right from wrong. But the temptation of Eve
is much deeper than the appealing physical characteristics of the forbidden
fruit. She wants to be more respected and noted. She wants to have as much power
as Adam and God. If Eve was given the authority and knowledge Adam was granted
with, she would have never eaten from the forbidden tree. When encountered by
the serpent, Eve states, "But of this Tree we may not taste nor touch/ God
so commanded." (IX. 253:651-52). Proceeding her statement the serpent
questions her power by asking her "Indeed? Hath God then said that of the
fruit/ of all these Garden trees ye shall not eat/ Yet Lords declared of all in
Earth or Air?" (IX. 253:656-58). Eve tells the serpent she is forbidden to
eat from this certain tree, but the serpent goes on to question her
"genuine rank" in Eden. He says that if Adam and Eve are supposed to
be the Gods and Rulers of Eden, then they should be denied nothing. Obviously he
puts the thought in her mind that someone has higher authority if she is being
denied something: this was to cause a desire in her of being more powerful. The
reasons the serpent gives to Eve of why she should eat the fruit are numerous.
The main fear for Eve is that she was told that if she ate the fruit she would
die. The serpent is able to change her mind by telling her that he has eaten the
fruit, he is not dead, and he inherited the ability of speech. Eve then eats the
fruit, "greedily she ingorg'd without restraint(IX. 257:791)." After
eating the fruit, she feels drunken and starts to praise the Tree of Knowledge.
She remembers Adam is waiting for her return and ponders what to do. Soon enough
Adam meets Eve at the Tree of Knowledge. The tables are now turned, Eve is
triumphant in getting Adam to eat from the Forbidden Tree. At first Adam is in
shock and is overcome by fear for her. Adam is now taking orders from Eve, she
is now the "deceiver." It is said in Book Nine, "against his
better knowledge, not deceiv'd/ but fondly overcome with Female charm (IX.
262:998-999)," Adam eats the fruit. One can see, Adam is not so perfect, he
too disobeys God's commands. Eve had more of a reason to eat the fruit, she had
more to gain. However, Adam was all of a sudden "overcome" by Eve's
female charm? I find that debatable. One can conclude that Eve was put in a far
worse position that Adam in means of being tempted by the serpent. Eve's
submissive qualities and lack of authority were clearly reason enough for her to
eat from the Forbidden Tree. If God had made Adam and Eve truly equal, none of
this might have ever happened. I feel Eve is taking the blame for someone else's
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