Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost Book 9

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      Adam and Eve are the only two human beings presented in the epic. They have been placed in the midst of luxuriant natural wealth and beauty. They have in abundance everything that human mind on imagination can conceive or aspire for. The only prohibition laid on them is that they are not allowed to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Eve is tempted by Satan and Falls as a result of the frivolity of her mind and her susceptibility to flattery. Adam Falls as a result of his being overcome by ‘female charms.’ He commits the folly of transgressing inspite of knowing the consequences. In the words of C.S. Lewis: ‘‘The whole point about Adam and Eve is that, as they would never but for sin, have been old, so they were never young, never immature or undeveloped. They were created full grown and perfect. Adam was, from the first, man in knowledge as well as in stature. No useful criticism of the Miltonic Adam is possible until the last trace of the naive, simple, childlike Adam has been removed from our imaginations. And from the very first sight we have of the human pair Milton begins doing so. Among the beasts we see two ‘of far nobler shape’, naked, but ‘in naked Majestic’, ‘Lords of all’, ‘reflecting their glorious Maker’ by their ‘Wisdom and Sanctitude’. They are people with whom we would be well advised not to take liberties.”


      Some critics consider Adam as the Hero of Paradise Lost because it is he who acts and suffers most and on whom the consequences have the most influence. This is how he becomes the main character, though Eve is the more interesting and Satan the more energetic. Yet Adam, the only representative of the human race, is the central figure in Paradise Lost. The business of the whole poem is to conduct Adam through a variety of conditions of happiness and distress, all terminating in the utmost good from the state of precarious innocence, through temptation, sin, repentance and finally a secure dependence upon the interest in the supreme good by the meditation of Christ. As far as the physical charms of Adam go, he has a heroic built and such majesty and grandeur that even Satan is afraid to approach him. Moreover, he has a stronger mind and is less virile and susceptible. Thus, it is Eve whom Satan seeks to seduce. The nobility of Adam’s character is brought out when he finds out about Eve’s transgression and her disobedience of the prohibition of God laid upon them. He immediately suspects the hand of their fraudulent enemy who has caused this mischief to invoke the fury of God upon them. However, what is past is done and now he desperately hopes that the Almighty will not destroy them both and thus defeat the entire project of which they are the key figures. He foresees the doom in store for Eve yet he decides to undertake the same plight as for him the ‘Bond of Nature’ is stronger than the law of obedience. Adam’s supernatural kingship of earth and his wisdom is brought out in his kingly manner. When he receives the homage of the beasts, he instantaneously ‘understands their Nature’ and assigned their names. He has a complete insight into the mysteries of the dreams and can give Eve a full explanation of the phenomena of dreams.


      In Book IV, Eve appeared as an emblem of beauty, innocence, purity, devotion and constancy, though Eve retains her beauty and charm, she has now become wilful, fickle, whimsical and querulous. She is argumentative and defiant. Though, it may well be understood that Milton paints her character thus, in order to bring about her subsequent Fall and to prepare the reader for it. Otherwise, right from the start, her grandeur and a certain aloofness in her, live in some of Milton’s most memorable phrases; ‘With sweet, austere composure thus reply or to whom the virgin majesty of Eve?’ The charms and attractions of Eve have been described thus:

When I approach
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she will to do or say
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetness, best.

      Eve falls as a result of the flattery of the disguised serpent who approaches her, finding her alone and attracting her attention by his human language. Eve is surprised and to her curiosity, the serpent tells her that he happened to eat the fruit of a certain tree which opened his eyes and gave him language and power of reasoning. The guileful serpent tempts Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of knowledge, in spite of her reluctance and thus brings about her fall. In the opinion of A.J.A. Waldock; “Eve is just a victim of misfortune. It has been, although she does not know it, her unlucky day. Things have been going away from the start. She wakes in independent mood, she decides to enjoy herself in her own fashion, to follow her whim, to sit off, for once, alone. Adam’s dissuasion merely strengthen her resolve to have, for this one time, her own way. Then she begins unexpectedly, to enjoy the situation. Adam’s opposition is a new experience, not without its interest. She begins to act a little, to play a part. She pretends to be hurt by his mistrust; she assumes an air of injured dignity. She shows a pretty obstinacy, feels her power and gets her way.”

Their Relation to Each Other

      Adam and Eve as wife and husband in Paradise enjoy perfect human happiness. They live a life of perfect happiness in the pleasure garden of paradise. They are the masters of their little world and their only occupation is to trim and tend their heavenly garden. They are an incomparable pair inseparably bound in natural ties of love and devotion to each other.

University Questions

Give a brief description of the presentation of Adam and Eve in Book IX of Paradise Lost.
How has Milton depicted the only two human beings i.e. Adam and Eve in his book Paradise Lost?

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