Paradise Lost written by John Milton is a detailed version of the book ofGenesis from the Bible. Both stories revolve around a similar basic plothowever, in Paradise Lost, the characters are portrayed differently in anegative sense. Paradise Lost gives the character Eve more reasons for beingtempted into eating the fruit from the forbidden tree. Eve is also given a moresubmissive and unintelligent image in Paradise Lost. The qualities she attainsbasically 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 somewhatinferior to Adam. She realizes that she was made from his flesh and that he wascreated 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 ordersgiven to her by Adam, and that she has no thoughts of her own. Eve continuesgiving Adam the title of, “pre-eminent by so much odds, while thou/ likeconsort to thyself canst nowhere find (IV. 133:447-448).” Adam and Eve wereto be created equal in God’s eyes, however this is not demonstrated in ParadiseLost. Eve is already being given the quality of being vain in her attempt to tryto explain her forthcoming into Eden. She awoke not knowing where she was. Shehad come to a pool of water in which she peered into and saw a reflection ofherself. “Of sympathy and love, there I had fixt/ mine eyes till now, andpin’d with vain desire (IV. 133:465-466).
Eve is being compared with the samebehavior as Narcissus, as being vain. However, Eve is still innocent and has yetto discover her fall. Milton is already attributing negative qualities to Eve,which makes her “flawed” in a sense whereas Adam is not. Adam is awarehe has control over Eve, “he in delight/ both of her Beauty and submissiveCharms(IV. 134:498). Eve again addresses Adam as her creator, “God is thylaw, thou mine (IV. 138:637).
Adam seems to be enjoying the fact that Eve is sosubmissive to him. This is not fair to Eve, she should be created with the sameauthority as Adam. If they are so called “partners,” then they shouldequally collaborate on decisions. Milton foreshadows Eve’s fall when he refersto the myth of Pandora’s box. Adam and Eve are exchanging marital vows whileMilton describes Eve as, “More lovely than Pandora, whom the Gods/ endow’dwith all their gifts, and O too like/ in sad event..she ensnar’d/ mankind withher fair looks, to be aveng’d/ on him who had stole Jove’s authentic fire.
Pandora is responsible for letting evil into the world byopening the box. This parallels to Eve eating of the forbidden fruit andreleasing evil into the world. Pandora is blamed much like the blame is put onEve. Milton seems to impute many ill qualities to women. While Adam and Eve areasleep, the Devil notices the vulnerability and innocent qualities of Eve. Evebecomes the Devils “prey” as he appears to her in her dream. Shestates to Adam who has awakened her, “I have dreamed/ ..of offence andtrouble, 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 sofair and appealing to the senses. This frightens her because she knows it isforbidden and that in her dream she was so tempted into eating from it. Raphaelvisits Adam, not Eve, to warn him of the enemy and danger that is potential.
Forsome reason, Eve is not worthy enough or wouldn’t understand what Raphael has tosay. Adam is basically the messenger for Eve. Adam is responsible for teachingEve the things she needs to know, like the danger of temptation ahead. Let onetake into account why the serpent would chose to tempt Eve. Eve is obviouslyportrayed as more gullible and vulnerable than Adam.
The serpent knows not toeven try to tempt Adam because he would not be able to. Eve is lacking in thewillpower and the ability to chose right from wrong. But the temptation of Eveis much deeper than the appealing physical characteristics of the forbiddenfruit. She wants to be more respected and noted. She wants to have as much poweras Adam and God. If Eve was given the authority and knowledge Adam was grantedwith, she would have never eaten from the forbidden tree. When encountered bythe serpent, Eve states, “But of this Tree we may not taste nor touch/ Godso commanded.” (IX. 253:651-52).
Proceeding her statement the serpentquestions her power by asking her “Indeed? Hath God then said that of thefruit/ of all these Garden trees ye shall not eat/ Yet Lords declared of all inEarth or Air?” (IX. 253:656-58). Eve tells the serpent she is forbidden toeat 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 tobe the Gods and Rulers of Eden, then they should be denied nothing. Obviously heputs the thought in her mind that someone has higher authority if she is beingdenied something: this was to cause a desire in her of being more powerful. Thereasons 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 woulddie. The serpent is able to change her mind by telling her that he has eaten thefruit, he is not dead, and he inherited the ability of speech. Eve then eats thefruit, “greedily she ingorg’d without restraint(IX. 257:791).” Aftereating 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 enoughAdam meets Eve at the Tree of Knowledge. The tables are now turned, Eve istriumphant in getting Adam to eat from the Forbidden Tree. At first Adam is inshock and is overcome by fear for her. Adam is now taking orders from Eve, sheis now the “deceiver.” It is said in Book Nine, “against hisbetter 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, hetoo disobeys God’s commands. Eve had more of a reason to eat the fruit, she hadmore to gain. However, Adam was all of a sudden “overcome” by Eve’sfemale charm? I find that debatable. One can conclude that Eve was put in a farworse position that Adam in means of being tempted by the serpent. Eve’ssubmissive qualities and lack of authority were clearly reason enough for her toeat from the Forbidden Tree. If God had made Adam and Eve truly equal, none ofthis might have ever happened. I feel Eve is taking the blame for someone else’smistake.