Consequences of The Fall in Paradise Lost Book 9

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      Book IX of Paradise Lost occupies a crucial position in the structure of the XII book epic, the major action - the Fall of Man, takes place here. Adam who is not deceived about the fruit, decides to take it nevertheless, because he loves Eve so intensely that he would rather share her sin and die than live on in Paradise without her.

Adam’s Disagreement

      Eve proposes to Adam that they should work separately so that they can compare how much work each one can perform independently, when they work together, much of their time is wasted in exchanging looks of love or in conversation. They would, therefore, put in more work if they work separately. Adam does not like this proposal and warns Eve against the Satanic powers at work against their bliss. He cautions her not to be away from him, alone in the fields, for there could be danger for her. Satan could take advantage of her to try her virtue. Eve feels offended and insulted that he doubts her ability to stand alone. Adam is apologetic, for he certainly does not mean to doubt her, yet he says that there is more strength in unity. Still Eve insists on working separately. All persuasions and cautions of Adam fail. Adam gives a short discourse on the power of reason and freedom of will and then finally he agrees to her going away to a separate comer and work there. The poet expresses pity for the deluded Eve through words which are very much like the choric comments in a Greek tragedy.

O much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve,
Of thy presumed return! event perverse!
Thou never from that hour in Paradise
Found it either sweet repast or sound repose;
Such ambush, hid among sweet flowers and shades,
Waited, with hellish rancour imminents.
To intercept thy way, or send thee back
Despoiled of innocent, of faith of bliss.

Seduction of Eve

      Eve is tempted by Satan with the use of flattery and falsehood. His false and perverted arguments totally confuse and bewilder Eve. She is unable to resist the temptation more so because the time is noontime and she felt very hungry after the days work. She argues with herself as to why should they be deprived of the fruit which even mean creatures like serpents freely eat. Thus, she picks the fruit:

So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she ate.

      Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit causes a convulsion in nature. It is felt as a wound by the earth and threat of ruin to the entire natural order because she has undermined the law of obedience whereby the whole hierarchical system is governed. She eats greedily, stuffing her mind with expectant notions of higher knowledge, even of godhead as she forges her body.

Eve Tempts Adam

      Eve returns to Adam and narrates the entire story to him. She tells him that persuaded by the serpent she tasted the forbidden fruit and found it so sweet and juicy. She offers the same forbidden fruit to Adam, saying:

Thou therefore also taste, the euqal lot
May join us, equal joy, as equal love,
Lost thou not tasting, different degree
Disjoin as, and I then too late renounce
Deity for thee, when Fate will not permit.

Adam’s Displeasure

      Adam is teiribly shocked to hear the tale of Eve’s transgression. He shudders to realize that she has been trapped and betrayed by some Satanic agency. Yet he cannot forsake her, for she is flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone. Whatever may happen, he would indeed live or die with her. Eve is grateful at this mark of strong affection from her husband. She amplifies the bond: they are ‘One Heart, one Soul in both’, as evidenced by Adam’s noble resolve to share with her One guilt, one Crime. That is, she adds, if there be any crime in tasting the fruit whose effect has been, directly or indirectly, to present this fortunate trial and proof of Adam’s love, which otherwise would never have been so eminently revealed. She further assures Adam:

Far othenvise but I feel event, not death, but life
Augmented, opened eyes, new hopes, new joys,
Taste so divine, that what of sweet before
Hath touched my sense, flat seems to this and harsh
On my experience, Adam, freely taste,
And fear of death deliver to the winds.

Adam’s Compliance

      Adam’s compliance with Eve’s proposal is unnatural because it is the compliance of husband with wife, of man with woman. Adam though aware of the consequences is “Overcome with female charms”, eats the fruit. The living world of Nature weeps and groans at the completing of the mortal Sin, Original, Adam takes no heed of the thunder and Eve does not fear to repeat her trespass.

The Immediate Effect

      The effect of Adam’s eating the fruit is instantaneous, the vocabulary used by Milton to describe the effect of Adam’s eating the fruit is that of sexual indulgence. The minds of Adam and Eve are filled with overpowering lust. They take their fill of love and its ‘disport’ until they are tired of the game. The sleep that oppresses them is a heavy, drugged, dream—cluttered sleep, bred of the unnatural fumes of inebriation. From it they wake, not refreshed, but ‘As from Unrest’. Their eyes are not opened in the way they anticipated. They are opened to the recognition of their own darkened minds, to the disappearance of the ‘veil’ of innocence that has ‘shadowed’ them from knowledge of evil.

Their Quarrel

      It is not long before Adam and Eve realize that they have been betrayed by the treacherous serpent. They realize that their celestial bliss has departed and they have become grossly earthly. Now they realize that they are naked and felt a guilty shame. The more they try to cover themselves the more naked they feel themselves to be. Now they know both good and evil but “good lost and evil got.”

Their Accusation of One Another

      Overcome by grief repentance and sense of guilt, Adam accuses Eve of disobedience and defiance of his advice and warning not to go away from him to work alone in the fields. Eve’s self-justification greatly angers Adam. He asks her if this is the reward for self-sacrificing joining her in her disobedience? He recalls the case he took in warning her. There was nothing more he could have done, unless he had used force - and there is no place for force where the will is free. He accuses her of invoking God’s fury on themselves and their race and the curse of death. In reply, Eve says that the trap laid on her and the temptation were so great that if he had been in her place, he could not have resisted them. Perhaps, Adam erred in being so overcome by Eve’s qualities that he thought her unassailable by evil. Their mutual recrimination fills the now ‘fruitless’ hours. Neither Adam nor Eve is prepared to take the blame and excuse the other.

University Questions

What are the immediate consequences of ‘The Fall’ in Book IX of Paradise Lost?
Is it true that Adam and Eve arc transformed from “two Innocents into two Red Indian Savages” in Book IX of Paradise Lost?

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