Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost Research Papers
Research papers on Adam and Eve In Paradise Lost, the differences in the virtues of Adam and Eve are described in order to show how these differences contribute to the fall of Man. Although they are without sin before eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, their human characteristics lead them to each make their own decision to disobey God. The story seems to illustrate that even innocent virtues can lead Man down the path of disobedience.
Virtues of Adam and Eve
In Book IV of Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve's different virtues and qualities are explored in depth.
- Adam is described as being contemplative in nature and full of velour
- Eve is characterized as being soft and graceful.
- Milton describes them thus: "For contemplation he and velour formed/for softness she and sweet attractive Grace/He for God only, she for God in him" (4.297-9).
It is important to note that Adam's primary loyalty is meant to be towards God, while Eve is meant to submit and be loyal to Adam rather than God. It is not that God is not important, the roles of Adam and Eve just seem to follow a chain of command. While Adam is described as being strong and manly, great attention is given to Eve's physical appearance. She is described as having, "Her unadorned gold tresses wore/Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved". It is particularly interesting that Milton uses the word "wanton" to describe Eve. Despite the innocent context in which it is used; the word does seem to foreshadow the events of the future.
The two most powerful emotions humans can experience are fear and love. Either of these two emotions can cause men and women to act in strange ways. Love has the additional power to bring on fits of rage when a person feels his or her love has been betrayed. Lines 1163 – 1169 in John Milton’s Paradise Lost show the frustration Adam feels after his beloved Eve chastises him, and even blames him for her role in committing original sin. Eve’s words and the implications behind them are more hurtful to Adam than his expulsion from paradise. In his eyes Eve’s words are worse than the knowledge that he will someday experience pain and eventually death.
When Adam says, “Is this the love, is this the recompence/ of mine to thee, ungrateful Eve!” (1163-4). Adam is responding to Eve’s accusations. She tells Adam in lines 1148 – 1152 that he too would have fallen prey to the serpent just as she did. According to Eve, Adam could never have detected the serpent’s lies. The serpent had never before proven to be an enemy in the past, therefore why should she not have believed him? Would Adam have been able to detect the fraud in the serpent’s words? In her mind the answer is no. The only reason she was the first to eat the fruit is that the serpent spoke to her first. The problem with her logic is that Adam ate the fruit because of her. He wanted to please the woman he loves, not become more like God.
Eve also states that Adam is the one truly at fault for original sin in lines 1153 – 1161 because he let Eve leave his side. If he is absolutely the head, he should have commanded her not to go. Thus, original sin would never have been committed and both of them would still be welcome in paradise. Adam is stung by these words and in his reply he indicates subtlety to Eve that his love for her caused her to be created. He asked the Lord for a companion, and he gave up one of his ribs for her creation.
Adam goes on to tell Eve he is not unchangeable, as she implies in her chastisement, and he reminds her of what else he has given up for lover of her. “…expressed/ Immutable, when thou wert lost, not I,/ who might have lived, and joyed immortal bliss,/ Yet willingly chose rather death with thee?” (1164-7). This is the heart of Adam’s argument with Eve. This is where Adam he feels Eve betrayed him with her accusations. Adam states that he did not have to leave Paradise. He could have gone on living in the Garden of Eden and known nothing of hardship, pain, or death. It is also not only conceivable, but highly probable that God would have created another woman to replace Eve as Adam’s companion in paradise. Instead, Adam accepts banishment from paradise so he can stay with his beloved. He chooses to face unknown hardships, pain, and even death to stay with Eve. For him, it was a choice based on love and nothing else. Not even paradise could be fulfilling to Adam without Eve at his side.