Narendran Sairam March 24th, 2008 Mr.

Marc (Doc) Aronson World Literature Paradise Lost Essay Final Draft (Topic 2) The Fragile Character of Eve The character Eve in John Milton's Paradise Lost knows and acknowledges the fact that she is inferior to Adam and that she is more likely to disobey God's orders. She is also not very interested in learning. She is intelligent, but she is satisfied with following God's orders through Adam. She is very rational. If one examines the debate between Eve and Adam, Eve's arguments seem to be much more rational by today's standards. She is also very beautiful. In fact she is more beautiful than Adam, even though she was created from a rib belonging to Adam. But beauty, her greatest asset, also brings out her greatest weakness. ...which Eve Perceaving where she sat retired in sight, With lowliness Majestic from her seat, And Grace that won who saw to wish her stay, Rose, and went forth among her Fruits and Flours, To visit how they prosper'd, bud and bloom...(VIII,40-45) This quote show two things. It shows that Eve acknowledges the fact that she is inferior to Adam and the fact that she is not interested in learning. Eve stays and listens to Raphael and Adam talk about various things until the they start talking about 'higher' things, like the creation of the universe at which point, she leaves to tend the flowers. Milton later says that she did that, not because she could not understand the abstract discussions, but because she wanted to hear it from Adam with the 'digressions' of love. This shows that she does not want to learn about the things that Adam and Raphael talk about but she wants to use it as an excuse to have sex. Her absence from these discussions that Adam and Raphael have affects her intelligence. Even thought she is intelligent, she does not become any more knowledgeable during the course of this book while Adam learns a lot of things during the length of Paradise Lost. By doing this she is acknowledging the fact that she in inferior to

Adam and will blankly follow him without knowing anything or thinking for herself. In the end her lack of knowledge is acknowledged by Micheal when he puts her to sleep while he shows Adam the vision of the future. All in all Eve is intelligent but not as knowledgeable as Adam which shows that she is inferior to him. Another thing that can be noticed about Eve is that she is very rational. If the debate between Adam and Eve are examined carefully, Eve seems more rational than Adam. The argument between Adam and Eve in Book IX, where Eve tells Adam that they should work separately so that they can get more done, is a very good and important example of this. She begins by telling him that there are many advantages of working separately. Firstly she says, that they will get more done without getting distracted by each other's looks. She also says that it will give them a sense of satisfaction and make their dinner more enjoyable and deserved. Adam replies by saying that it is not such a good idea because she is a lot likely to get swayed by Satan when she is alone than when she is with him. In reply Eve says, in a hurt tone that she is sad that he does not trust her and that they cant be hurt physically or mentally by Satan who is now mortal. Adam gives it one more go and Eve, as a final argument, comments on their condition of living in fear of a foe that can be beaten. Adam finally gives into her persuasion. In book VIII, even Adam says that “ ...Authority and Reason on her wait,...(VIII, 554) .” If the reader analyzes this debate, Eve is the one that makes the most sensible arguments whereas Adam's claims are true but weak. Another very interesting aspect of Eve is her beauty. While it is the factor that gains her Adam's love and makes her so valuable to him, it is also the factor that brings the Fall upon the ancestors of Mankind. In Book VIII, Adam describes her as being “ wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best...(VIII, 550).” This shows how dear she is to him and how much he loves her. When Eve describes her creation in book IV, she says that she fell in love with her reflection in a body of water. “... As I bent down to look, just opposite, A shape within the watery gleam appeared, Bending to look on me. I started back, It started back; but pleased I soon returned as soon with answering looks Of sympathy and love; there I

had fixed Mine eyes till now, and pinned with vain desire,...(IV, 460-466).” Her beauty makes her arrogant. This make her susceptible to praise and flattery. This is the weakness that Satan targets when he tries to persuade her to eat the Fruit.
“Wonder not, sovran Mistress, if perhaps Thou canst, who art sole Wonder, much less arm Thy looks, the Heav'n of mildness, with disdain, Displeas'd that I approach thee thus, and gaze Insatiate, I thus single, nor have feard Thy awful brow, more awful thus retir'd. Fairest resemblance of thy maker faire, Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine By gift, and thy Celestial Beautie adore With ravishment beheld, there best beheld Where universally admir'd; but here In this enclosure wild, these Beasts among, Beholders rude, and shallow to discerne Half what in thee is fair, one man except, Who sees thee? (and what is one?) who shouldst be seen A Goddess among Gods, ador'd and serv'd By Angels numberless, thy daily Train.” (IX, 532- 548)

He uses her beauty to his advantage and says that she is as beautiful as a goddess. Even though this is only the prologue to the big speech he is about to give, this has a tremendous effect on Eve. The praise catches her attention and she gives in to his flterry. When Satan give his speech, where he tells her that there is nothing to be afraid of, every single word sinks in and she believes him. Her beauty gets in the way of the way of her ability to think clearly which leads her to eat the apple. She eats the apple, she falls and the rest of mankind follows. In conclusion, Eve's character in Paradise Lost is a very interesting one. The most important one of these characters is her beauty. It is her power but it is also mankind's curse. Her beauty and arrogance make her susceptible to the Serpent's speech. She falls for Satan's praise and his oratory skills. As a result she gets mankind kicked out of paradise. Another character of hers is her ability to reason. In all the debates between her and Adam she emerges victorious, partially because Adam loves her with his life but also because her arguments are well reasoned. This is also another reason that contributed to the Fall. The last but not the least, interesting character is her behavior. She knows that she is inferior than and less knowledgeable than Adam and that she will never be as good as him but

she still never tries to make herself better than she already is. This is another thing that is bad for her. This results in her not being able to see the future that Micheal shows Adam. Over all her character is interesting but is not helpful in any way to her or Adam.

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