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Patrick McEvoy-Halston English369 IFOI Dr.

Tolomeo 13 December2003 Bold, and Righteous(Re)Quest Adventurous, Adam's Presumptuous, with fallen adventurous, bold behaviouris associated and Normally, presumptuous, in characters John Milton's ParadiseLost. Satan,for example,as he wilfully journeyspastevery barrier in pursuit of his devilish goal, is repeatedlydescribedasbold in the text. And Eve too, after shehaseatenthe apple,is describedby Adam as "bold," "presumptuous,"and "adventurous"(IX, 92I). There is, however, one characterin the text who oncebehavesin this fashion yet is neither a nor someonewho falls as punishmentfor his action-that bein{pau fallen character, /" , when he

his asksGod for a companion. Thoughit is typical of Adam to circumscribe freedom,as he does, for example,after Raphaelwarns him that his interestin the heavensis becoming lustful, and though we are most familiar with the wilful act which dooms him, Adam relentlesslypursueshis desirefor a companion,and doesnot stop until he achieveshis "heart's desire" (VIII, 45L). And has especiallyas it advances, all the feel of a trial which is testingAdam's thoughthis encounter, us it ratherthan his obedience, likely surprises by proving to be one in which Adam disobedience the demonstrates righteoususe of his God given freedom. One of the things Raphaeldoeswhich convincesAdam to desis/rn / his inquiry into the

make-upof the heaveny is to remind him of all that he alreadyhas been given. Raphaeladvises / / Adam to take'Joy t. . .l / In what he givesto thee,this Paradise And tvy fairEve" (VI[, I7O-73), and remindshim of how God had "bid dwell far off all anxiouscares"( 185). However,later in book VIII, when Adam tells Raphaelthe mannerby which he actually receivedEve from God, he to to relates him how, despitehavingjust beengiven Paradise lord over, and having being told that is Paradise a placewherehe neednot "fear t. . .l dearth"(322),he chosenot to "check'i(tSq) hit

still" "apprehension / thel t. ' .l wanted tthatl t. . .l in these Ihel t. . .l foundnot what [he]thought to (355). AdamtellsRaphael he,instead, decided askGodfor rnore. Askingfor moreafter that Adam thingfor Adamto do; and,indeed, to beinggivenso muchlikely seems us a presumptive as s" himselfcharacterizes request "presumptuou (367). Thoughhe doesyet know that his to overreach, graspfor morethanwhat onehasalreadybeengiven, is what doomedboth Satanand to has that will doomEve,he obviously somesense to presume askfor morefrom Godis atthe 1t ) ! t'"': I of thatit mightbe a trespass somekind. and very leastinappropriate, possibly morethanhe hadbeengiven,may remindus of Satan's ThoughAdam,by pursuing
from to the ingratitude, way in which he responds God's gifts might haveus thinking more of Jesus to Paradise RegainedthanofSatanfrom Paradise Lost. For just as Jesusresponds Satan's presentations for example,"a table richly spread"(II, 340) and a "wide domain / In ample of, territory" (IV, 81-82)rn ParadiseRegainedbyinforming Satanthat he has offeredhim nothing of that "Not only thesefair bounds,but all the earth/To to value,Adam responds God's declaration theeand to they raceI give" (VIII, 338-39)by implying that God has of yet offeredhim nothing that will either make him (Adam) happy and/or content (364-66). I draw the parallel betweenthe Adam beginshis I because want to draw attentionto just how audaciously two situations argument. Though Adam takes greatcareto avoid arousingGod's angerwhen he speaksto God,l risks momentarilymaking God seemas nevertheless Adam's reply to God's gift giving gesture madeSatanseem. impotentand foolish as Jesus'reply to Satan'slavishness by by God is not displeased Adam, and my guessis that most readersarenot too surprised God, we likely think, is outrageously, his reaction. For evenif Adam is behavingsomewhat

Adu-, for example,never explicitly and directly confronts God with the assertionthat he has thus far failed to make Adam happy, but rather indirectly implies this by asking God, "In solitude / What happiness,who can enjoy alone,/ Or all enjoying, what contentmentfind?" (VIII, 364-66). He is also careful to initiate his requestwhen it seemedleast likely to arouseGod's anger. Though earlier in their encounterGod had been "resound[ingly]" (334) "[s]tern" (333), Adam commences request his only after God had returnedto "his clear aspect"(336).



/ after/al| a permissive deity, and Adam doesn't thus far seem to have disobeyed God. However,

to when Adam chooses persistbeyondan "obstacle"which previously(in the text) had haltedhis readers likely becomelesssureas to how God will reactto pursuitof knowledgeof the heavens, Adam's boldness. was not sinful, that "To ask or When Raphaeltold Adam that his interestin the heavens I search blame theenot" (V[I, 66), he followed this by trying to get Adam to desistin his interest to in the heavens.He told Adam to "admire" (75) God's creations, be contentwith what he has, and to "solicit not thy thoughtswith mattershid" (L67). Similarly, though God smilesat Adam to he let him know he hasnot (yet) transgressed, follows this by remindingAdam that his (Adam's) "realm is large," and ordershim to "Find pastime,and bearrule" (375). And when, despite God's reply as an "order" (V[I, 377), Adam choosesto proceedon his quest,we recognrzing that by proceeding into uncertainterritory. Adam understands likely feel that he is (tres)passing beyonda barrierintendedto hem him in-this being,of course, forward he may be transgressing in God's commandthat he desistand find happiness what he has alreadybeenprovided. And in himself for a potentially dangerous fact, much like Satanbefore enteringthe abyss,Adam prepares journey. He imploresGod not to "Let [his] t. . .l words offend [him]" (379), and therebyis likely by trying "to ward of the potentialpunishment anticipatingit" (Forsyth,119). But Adam doesnot in even his his we proceed forth meekly;instead, sense boldness, aggressiveness, his arrogance his response God. to subsequent judgmentaland assertive.We sense wilfulness,for example, his Adam's speech becomes pairs "soon prove/ Tediousalike: of fellowship I speak/ Suchas that mismatched when he states his which beganwith God's assertiveness, added). An encounter I seek"(VIII, 389-90;emphasis of egoism,clearly evidentin the text (the result,in part, of the accumulation the declarative "I statements God makes:"I have set" 1324],"I warn thee" [327], "I give" 13391, bring" 13431),


of now is veeringtowardonein which Adam is the moreactiveandassertive the pair. And though by (398)with Adam,we may not be assuaged we areagaintold thatGod was"not displeased" r-y + J:/ 1 ' Fa as to for God'sreaction; Godresponds Adam'sassertiveness if heis baitingAdamto makethe itself into is that Satan.As if sensing this encounter transforming that same mistake oncedoomed himselfasnot to a battleof witls, God,in effect,setsAdamup sothathe seems haveto establish just god-like, God'ssuperior, orderto win their debate. in but (VII, 399)in Adam'sstate' happiness" GodtellsAdamthathe "see[s]""A niceandsubtle as howhe (God),asisolated Adamis, feels. In orderto proveto God andinvitesAdamto imagine betterthan that that he (Adam) truly is unhappy,then,Adam mustboth demonstrate he both sees of, Goddoes,andthathe hasinsightinto the state if not God'smind,thenat leastGod'sheart. how "Al1 humanthoughtscome Adam takescareto stress Now ratherthancall God short-sighted, Adam However, in short"[414])to thatof God. And Adamis very self-deprecating his response' with him with keeninsightinto that indirectlysuggests God'ssighthasnot provided nevertheless of as and thestate Adam'smind/heart, he doesspeculate to thenature God's"need[s)"(419). of "to sp[oke]" (434),after havingdaredseeming have And after Adam finisheshaving"emboldened skills the equalled surpassed reasoning/debating ofl themostHigh" (I, 40), he is, surprisingly' [or by and bothhandsomely rewarded Godwith his (Adam's)"heart'sdesire"(VUI, 451)' God rewardsAdam for the "permissive"(VItr, 435) useof his reasonandfreedom,but God's to how bold he-was disobey he givenhow presumptuous wasjust to initiatehis request, an he apparent order andpersistin his request,andhow adventurous was to advance argument we might still feel thatGod foolishandhimself whichat timesriskedmakingGodseem -Godlike, which doomedboth rewardsAdam herefor the samesort of indulgent,disohedient-behaviour normally arethe characters SatanandEve. We aremore apt to feel this way sinceemboldened his oneswho arepunishedinParadiseLost, andsinceAdam's normally circumscribes freedom,as


lustful. in is he doeswhenhe learnshis interest the heavens becoming way drawsmy interestin the same For me, at least,the untypicalnatureof this encounter drewAdam's (Vm, 7). It alsoexcitesme to be presumptuous: thatnature's"disproportions" to herehasbeenlargelyto drawattention how oddit is thatAdamis rewarded Thoughmy purpose which normally doomscharacters and adventurous, bold behaviour for the sortof presumptuous, as helpbut finish by speculating to why this oddityexistsin thetext. Inst,I cannot in Paradise adventurous, for in ThoughAdam is the only "character" the text who is rewarded presumptive, this behaves way but who hasnot yet thereis onewho self-admittedly andbold behaviour, judgmentfor doing so-that being,the narator, or, if you will, Milton himself. My received to for if conj"l,ur", then,is: Perhaps it waseasier thenarrator/lVlilton initiatehis own emboldened (V[, 13)epic"song"(I, 13), (I, "adventurous" 13),ambitious, "presum[ptuous]" and admittedly of whenhe knew he would telUsing at leastonemanwho "aim[ed]" "ambitiousfiy]" (I, 4l), yet sky" (45) for doing so. flaming from the ethereal avoided being"Hurled headlong (1540words).


Works Cited Forsyth,Neil. The Satanic Epic. Princeton: PrincetonUniversity Press,2003. Milton, John. Paradise Lost. John Milton: A Critical Edition of the Major Works. Ed. Jonathan Orgel. Oxford: Oxford University Press,I99L 355-618. Goldbergand Stephen