Paradise Lost Essay, Research Paper
Adam vs. Eve
In John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, the issue of who is to blame for the fall of man is one that for the most part can be interpreted from a close reading of book IX. Based on the text, Eve made the main decision to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Adam was more passive in that he simply followed the wishes of Eve and everything he did was out of love for her. Once everything is sorted out later in the story, it becomes clear that Adam and Eve were equally at fault for their fall and exile from the Garden of Eden.
After a long visit from the angel Raphael in which he made detailed explanation to Adam the dangers of falling into temptation and disobeying God’s will. Adam has a large problem the next morning. Adam?s problem is that Eve wants to split up for the day and Adam knows that they should not, especially after she has had the dream that she has told him about. They argue for a very long time but in the end Adam allows Eve to do as she wishes; even though he knows she is making a poor choice.
Adam knows that his ability to reason and think is inherently stronger than Eve’s, yet in his love for her is so strong that he concedes to her firm will. This is very similar to Eve?s yielding to the serpent?s deception because, like Adam, Eve is aware of how this is likely to turn out in the end. In Adam?s final request for her to remain devoted, he says to Eve: ?O woman, best are all things as well Of God ordained them; his creating hand Nothing imperfect of deficient left Of all he had created, much less man, Or aught that might his happy state secure, Secure with outward force. Within himself The danger lies, yet lies within his power; Against his will he can receive no harm. But God left free the will, for what obeys Reason is free, and reason he made right, But bid her well, and still erect, Lest by some by fair appearing good surprised, She dictate false and misinform the will To what God expressly hath forbid. Not then mistrust, but tender love, enjoins That I should mind thee oft, and mind thou me. Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve, Since reason not impossibly may meet some specious object by the foe suborned, And fall into deception unaware, Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warned. Seek not Temptation, then which not to avoid Were better, and most likely if from me Thou sever not: trial will come unsought. Wouldest thou approve thou constancy, approve First thy obedience, th’other who can know, Not seeing thee attempted, who attest? But if thou think trial unsought may find Us both securer than thus warned thou seem?st, Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more. Go in thy native innocence; rely On what thou hast of virtue, summon all; For God towards thee hath done his part: do thine.?
In this long speech Adam is trying to convince Eve to see that this is a terrible idea for her to go out into the garden alone in the likelihood of such horrible danger. It?s seems almost as though he is giving her a speech before she takes her leave to go out to battle. Unfortunately, battle is precisely what she finds. Eve is accosted by a serpent who tries to convince her to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. The serpent tells her that he ate of the tree and it transformed him from a simple snake to a being that could speak and reason. By this logic he convinces her that if she eats of the tree she would become a god; seeing how advanced she is at the time being.
After Eve has eaten of the fruit she becomes more calculating. She realizes that now she has committed sin and she will have to face the punishment, which is death. Even though she doesn?t realize what death is at this point, she still has a fairly good idea that it would mean for her to wither or be forgotten for another woman that god would create for Adam. It is at this point that you see the jealousy creep through and it proves that she is no longer innocent as she once was.
Through this, Adam is clearly aware that this is going to happen. He makes his decision to yield to Eve that makes him as much to blame for the fall as Eve is for trusting the serpent and falling into temptation. When Eve tries to get Adam to eat the apple, he knows that it is very wrong, but he does so anyway because his love for Eve is so strong will not let her suffer punishment alone. This being his decision, he eats the apple and thus disobeys the word of God and contradicts every thing he has been telling Eve that they must believe in. Once he has eaten the apple, both Eve and Adam fall feel a deep lust for the other and they make love for a long time until they pass out. After they awaken, they realize what they have done and fall into a terrible argument of who is to blame, but the reality is that the two of the are equally at fault for the fall of man, because either could have prevented it if they had obeyed the will of God. Even though in the end it was Eve that convinced Adam to eat of the tree, it all could have been prevented if at any given point they had not disobeyed.