Paradise Lost Essay, Research Paper
Visions of Marriage
In John Milton s poem, Paradise Lost, there is a portrayal of marriage between the two protagonists Adam and Eve. The narrator tells a story about the unity between this man and woman and shows us their trials during this time. Adam was a man created by God and through one of his ribs, his wife Eve was then created. These two characters are human and throughout the poem the author points out their flaws and drawbacks as a couple. In the beginning of the story Adam and Eve are a couple who is happy and in love. However, toward the end of the poem we see a change in attitude from the couple; we notice a shift in feelings and in mindset. Milton shows us an image of what a happy marriage should be like, but when the two separate, it is then that their marriage begins to crumble while this power dynamic shifts from Adam s character to Eve s character and is seen through the use of diction, imagery, and tone. Therefore, through the use of these literary elements, Milton tries to explain that a marriage will be able to be successful, but there is always a struggle with separation, temptation, and being a flawed human.
In Book IV, Milton uses diction to introduce these two characters and how happy they are. The scene begins in Eden, a garden in paradise. Adam stands in the garden and looks over his empire. Adam and Eve are described as God-like erect, with native honor clad in naked majesty seemed lords of all (293). The use of the words God-like, majesty, and lords of all shows a lot about how they should be perceived by the reader. They are thought of as these almighty humans because they are like God. Although they are naked, they are still confident in themselves and the use of this diction shows it. In this book, we also see the first glimpse of the power marriage dynamic between Adam and Eve. The narrator explains how Eve has come from his flesh, his bone; to give thee being [he] lent out of [his] side to thee, nearest [his] heart . . . (98). She is created from him and we see a closeness because she came from his heart. He lent his side to her out of love. The marriage between Adam and Eve begins with how she is created and we see a closeness between them because of how she was made.
The author’s use of diction is also used to describe how content Adam and Eve are content at the beginning. Although there are some comparisons that are made because both [Adam and Eve where] not equal, as their sex not equal seemed . . . (295-296). There are differences between Adam and Eve. They were not made equally, or rather, it did not seem that way. Adam is described as being valor formed whereas Eve has sweet attractive grace . . . (297-298). Furthermore, Adam has courage and is made masculine and Eve is lovely and feminine. Although there are these differences between the couple, they are happy. The couple walk hand in hand and they are considered the loveliest pair (321-322). They are content with the way they were made and they walk together with their arms connected. The use of these words shows that they are beautiful and suiting for one another. We get the impression that they are living out an ideal marriage through the author s use of diction.
Eve s tone when speaking more openly about her marriage explains why she is living a blissful like because she has Adam for a husband. She believes that to Adam, indeed all [her] praises owe because he has made her (444). She feels confident that she should be thankful to Adam because he has created her. She is so amazed by how beautiful Adam made her that when looking at her reflection in the water, Eve was pleased . . . with [the] answering looks (464). The marriage works because Adam is handsome and Eve is beautiful. Indeed she is so beautiful that when she looks at this reflection of her in the water even she is impressed. The tone that she uses explains a lot about her feelings and how content she is with herself and in her marriage.
Adam s tone can also be distinguished when he answers Eve after she thanks him for making her so beautiful. Se explains how out of [his] side to [her] being [he] lent / out of [his] side to [her], nearest [his] heart (483-484). We previously saw some of the inequalities that this couple faced in their marriage and Adam s tone in his later response shows that she should be thankful to him for creating her. This idea that Eve is submissive to Adam is accepted in this marriage because they both understand that. Eve is thankful to Adam and she even admits that she is submissive to him describing that she is beautiful, but only through Adam s manly grace (490). Adam delights in her beauty and admires her swelling breasts and her loose tresses. He is also content in this marriage and loves her body and beauty. He feels that he has created someone with so much appeal that he is so in love with her beauty and submissive charms (498). The inequality in this relationship works because they both agree that one is superior over the other and their tone explains this reasoning.