The dramatic characters of Adam and eve have led to a spectrum of opinions, which touch issues regarding the roles of the sexes even today. Milton’s dramatization of the biblical eve was interpreted vain, having trivia; characteristics inclined to fall. What was ignored was Milton’s assertion of eternal; providence for both man and woman.
Virginia Woolf and many other literary women’s view are that Milton’s verse is a powerful rendering of a culture myth, which is at the heart of west literary patriarchy.
Reasons for this are that it is the story of a woman’s secondness. her “otherness” which leads to her demonic anger, her fall, her sin, her fall and her exclusion from the garden of god’s which for her is the garden of poetry. According to the feminists, milt shows Adam as god’s favored creature, and eve as inferior who is satanically inspired.
. For most women writers Milton and creature of his literary imagination constitute what ‘Gertrude stein’ calls patriarchal poetry.
Adam and eve are capable of obedience to god; eve prefers to believe the devil. Adam loves his place of eve above his love of god.
Of their free will they are disobedient. Eve before the fall is innocent womanhood, and after the fall is guilty womanhood. God is their creaotor and he has forbidden them to eat the fruit. The obligation to obey is stressed again and again in the account of Eden.
Eve has a double obligation of obedience to obey Adam as well as god. Eve before the fall is the weaker vessel. Eve returns to the day of her creation, dwelling at some length upon theEve relates to God’s law through her husband, who is her law. She is not told about the prohibition by God, but by her husband.
Adam is made “for God only, she for God in him” This hierarchy, argues Maureen Mulligan, “negates a direct relationship between God and woman”The Eve of Paradise Lost actually assumes a lesser role in the rule of the earth. It is Adam’s “fair large front and eye sublime” that declares “absolute rule”Milton does not so powerfully compound Eve’s inferiority–in image, intellect, spirit, and dominion–merely because he is a product of his times. As A.L.
Rose writes, it “is all very well to excuse Milton for this assertion of women’s inferiority to men as being the customary attitude in his time; but I know of no one else who so constantly and unwearyingly asserts it all through his work” in Paradise Lost, Milton’s desire is to emphasize the sinfulness of man’s uxoriousness. For Milton, excessive devotion to one’s equal could never be so great a sin as excessive devotion to one’s inferior.Indeed, In Milton’s view, it is appropriate to submit to a superior, but it is unacceptable to submit to an inferior..
. Adam begins to fail in this duty the moment he allows Eve to part from him despite his knowledge that a tempter is afoot. Man’s fall begins as early as the separation scene; as Michael tells Adam, mankind’s woe does not originate from woman, but from the “effeminate slackness” of man, “who should better hold his place”Walter Lim writes that “the wisdom of native innocence is lost when Adam’s uxoriousness transforms Eve into his idol” Indeed, God makes Adam’s uxoriousness the main issue when He confronts the fallen man.Adam says he eats the forbidden fruit because Eve seems “so good / so fit, so acceptable, so divine, / that from her hand I could suspect no ill”.
He does suspect ill, and eats anyway, but his devotion to Eve persuades him to set aside his better judgment.Adam is a strong, intelligent, and rational man, God’s first human and as perfect as a person can be but Adam’s curiosity and hunger for knowledge are his weaknesses. Created to be Adam’s mate, Eve is slightly inferior to Adam. She falls in love with her own image reflected in a body of water.
Her greatest asset, beauty, produces her greatest weakness, vanity. Satan knows that flattering her on her beauty and godliness will make it easier for him to persuade her to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.Eve believes that b eating the fruit; she will reach the revolutionary stage Raphael promised. It is a temptation of ambition and not pride.
Man’s will is free, is freely obedient to his reason. And his reason is sound but needs to be cautious and alert least she should be taken off guard by something that falsely has the appearance of good. Stanley fish” if the light of reason coincides with the word of god, well and good; if not reason must retire and fall into the resumption of denying or questioning what it cannot explain”.Empson- Adam’s explanation of reason and will are to be obeyed to eve.
Acc to him, it seems to be some kind of explanation for the fall. Interpretative differences heighten the dramatic tension, which was Milton’s intention.Eve has a further descent to undergo; she worships the tree, an act of idolatry that completes the parallel between her fall and Satan’s-she who thought it beneath her dignity to bow to Adam or God now worships a vegetable. Adam carrying a garland joins eve and eats the fruit.
Thus we see the corruption of man’s chief faculties, reason and will.Incident of her reflection in pool. An incident as Hanford says,” that serves to point out the weakness that is to entrap her”. Eve’s vanity does two-fold service to Satan, once securing her attention to his discourse, and again s an important motive in her fall.
“But as they seem not equal, neither are they:For contemplation hee and valour formd,For softness shee and sweet attractive grace,hee for god only, she for god in him:His fair large front and eye sublime declar’dAbsolute rule”.”Without Satan. Adam and eve would not have been exposed to temptation, .Adam and eve are firm enough to withstand temptation .
their fall is their own. Eve like Satan at the tree employs arguments from areopagitca-arguments, which do not apply to the objections, which Adam raises, and do not apply to the situation. Eve is vain, and the susceptibility to flattery that results from her vanity is useful to Satan. She is unwary, not looking for Satan in the serpent.
She is credulous, for she believes a liar. Her resistance isinsufficient because satinwoods find” too easie entrance into heart”. But the flattery that catches her attention in Satan’s “glozing poem” is extremely skillful. The temptation itself is very great form Satan.
He flatters eve with praises like” a goddess among gods, ador’d and serv’d, b angels numberless”. Eve’s fall like all sin is a departure from reason. Adam in his warning to eve about the right conduct makes it clear to eve, includes the obligation of right thought. Specifically warned against specious reasoning, she follows Satan’s false hood until she falls into her train of thought: her reason misinforms her will” to do what god expressly hath forbid”.
She accepts the serpent’s assurance that it is envy on the parts of the gods that accounts for the prohibition.”Intent now wholly on her taste, naught elseRegarded such delight till then as seemed,In fruit she never tasted…
“eve seeks knowledge as a means to godhead, but she does not seek knowledge. Hunger is part” in making eve fall through vanity and curiosity for new experience,” says Hanford. It is not the loss of companionship that Adam cannot accept, it is the loss of eve certain is my resolution to die; how can I live without thee..
.”Adam’s sin is that he puts his love for eve before his love for god”.Adam falls by uxuriousness, and fails to weigh the consequences of disobeying and betraying the Lord.Adam’s act is neither noble nor heroic.
If seen from another point of view, Adam’s weakness leads to his own fall. His love for Eden is above his love for god. Intellectually superior to eve, he abandons reason and rationality and joins Eden in eating “the forbidden fruit”. He lacks the excuse of being deceived.
Satan did not deceive Adam. He yielded to eve because of his love for her. After the fall, Adam loses some of his mental quickness. The fall robs him of his pure reason and intellect.
As John Broadbent puts it”Milton’s chief ethical interest was freedom. He wanted to be free of his own appetites, and the appetites of others, especially tyranny. Repeatedly he says you can’t have the second freedom without the first; and since the fall that is difficult”.
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