Fall of Man in Paradise Lost by John Milton

John Milton's Paradise Lost Epic Poem

In this article, we will try to know that who is responsible for the fall of Man Adam or Eve? We will illustrate it in the light of our interpretation of Book IX – Paradise Lost. (Read about Fall of Man in upcoming lines)

Satan has heard that God has created a new world and has established in it a new race that He would equally favor as the angles. Therefore, Satan proposes that all of them should go there and take revenge:

What though the field is lost?
All is not lost, the unconquerable will
And a study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield (Li., 105 – 108)

With this resolution, Satan with his fallen angels burst into the new world.

Space may produce new worlds; were of so rife
There went a fame in Heaven that he ere long
Intended to create, and therein plant
A generation whom his choice regard
Should favor equal to this son of Heaven
Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhaps
Our first eruption-thither, or elsewhere

In order to take revenge, Satan enters to Garden of Eden stealthily under the cover of darkness. He finds a place; says the poet:

There was a place
Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the change,
Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise,
into gulf shot underground, till part
Rose up a fountain by the Tree of Life
in with the river sunk, and with it rose
Satan, involved in rising mist; then sought
Where to lie hid

Satan searches for the creature because he has made up his plan to enter into it. Feeling his inability, he decides that the serpent is the most suitable of the beasts to carry out his nefarious design and wicked purpose. The serpent is so huge that he enters into his body, nobody would suspect.

In at his mouth
The Devil entered, mid his brutal sense
In heart or head, possessing son inspired
With act intelligential, but his sleep
Disturbed not, waiting close the approach of morn

When he saw the beautiful world, he burned with envy at the blissful life of Adam and Eve and made up his mind to take revenge. He, in vengeance, resolved to move Adam and Eve by guile to taste the fruit of the Tree of knowledge. He thought to himself that by this method, he would bring down upon them God’s curse.

Adam and Eve wake up when the day dawns and offer their prayers to God. After repeating their vow to remain faithful to their Creator, they prepare themselves for the day’s labor. They have been working together in the Garden: This day Eve proposes to Adam that in the interest of the progress of work, it would be better if they work separately:

Let us divide our labors-thou where choice
Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind
….. While I,
In yonder spring of roses intermixed
With myrtle, find what to redress till noon

Adam does not like her suggestion but yields to her womanhood. He warns her of satanic powers and cautions her that he may lurk around to trap her. Eve does not like Adam’s warning and resents like a child and says: “How can I ever grow up if you will not let me. ” Seeing her willpower, he lets Eve go alone but adds to say:

Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more
Go in thy native innocence, rely
On what thou hast of virtue; summon all
For God toward thee bath done this part; do shine.

Before leaving Adam, to work independently, Eve very confidently tells him that she is going away with his consent and permission. Later on, she will blame him reminding him for allowing her to go. Being the head of the family, he should have asserted his authority. In this way, Eve has fallen even before the fall and Milton misses no opportunity of exposing the pettiness, the frivolity, and cursing of the fair sex. ” (Article: Fall of Man)

Eve walks away and Adam continues watching her. The poet comments “Eve was very much mistaken. The emery of Man, Stan was lying in wait to tempt and seduce Her and thus ruin their blissful state forever. Never again would she enjoy this bliss, food, or rest in the Gardens of Eden. Her days of carefree innocence were over.”

Now she is alone away from Adam and Satan is confident of seducing her and she is busy working among roses, but she is the most beautiful flower. Satan, in the guise of a serpent, moves nearer and nearer. He feeds his gazes with her beauty and forgets his evil design for some time. But immediately, this fire of revenge, burning inside, ends his ecstasy and reminds himself of his design to wreak the vengeance on God:

For not in formidable exempt from wound,
I, not so much hath Hell debased, and pain
Enfeebled me, to what I was in Heaven

Satan first uses flattery, then hypocrisy, and then finally logic to tempt and seduce Eve.” He addresses by different titles like Sovereign Mistress, “Empress of the fair world,” resplendent Eve, and others. On bearing serpent talking like a human being, she is very much surprised and asks him:

“What may this mean? Language of Man pronounced.
By tongue of brute, and human sense expressed. “

Satan now poses as a friend and well-wisher. He uses hypocrisy to seduce Eve which she would not detect because of her inexperience. Eve gets very interested in eating the fruit of the tree, which gave the power of language and reasoning to the serpent. When Satan bring her, to the forbidden tree whose fruit was not allowed to be taken by her. She reacts innocently and tells Satan that she cannot touch the fruit:

But of this tree. We may not taste not touch;
God so commanded, and left that command
The sole daughter of his voice: the rest, we live
Law to us: our reasons is our law

Satan advances arguments to convince her and tells her that his personal experience is sufficient proof that by eating the fruit:

Ye shall not die
How should you? By the fruit? I give you life
To know, By the threaten? Look on me,
Me who have touched and tasted, yet both live
And life more perfect have attained than fate
Meant me, by venturing higher than my …

Eve, at noon time, feels hungry after day’s work. Overcome by the arguments, and her hunger, in addition to being confused by the false logic of Satan, she picks the fruit. This was the most cursed hour in the history of mankind. Milton expresses it:

Earth left wound, and Nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of one
That all was lost

The entire nature was wounded by the sin committed by the first woman of humankind. She wanted to keep it a secret from Adam. The feat of death overpowered her imagination. What if she dies and Adam marries? This idea stings her mind and finally she decides:

Then I shall be no more
And Adam wedded to another eve,
Shall live with her enjoying, I extinct.
A death to think. Confirmed, then I resole
Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe
So dear I love him that with all death
I could endure, without him live no life

Thus she is guilty of the sin of jealousy and pride in addition to that disobedience and intemperance. She invites him with all love and suggests to him to taste the fruit. (Ref: Fall of Man)

In my experience, Adam, freely taste
And fear of death deliver to the winds

Adam also eats the fruit not out of ignorance of the consequences but overcome with female charm:

With liberal hand; he scrupled not to eat,
Against his better knowledge, not deceived,
But fondly overcome with female charm
The earth trembled from her entrails, as again
In panged, and nature gave a second groan

Nature gets wounded once again. All the objects and forces of Nature tremble with fear and horror once more than Adam’s transgression. Adam has fallen and the original sin has been committed.

In order to apportion to blame who really is responsible for the fall of man, the circumstances are to be properly weighed in the pans of metaphysics. Adam did not realize the full enormity of the danger to which he allowed her to expose. Had he been there himself he would not have suspected the serpent, because the latter spoke so well and there was no ground of enmity between them. Moreover, he would be more firm and if he had felt that much danger, he should not have allowed her to go seperately.

Neither had I transgressed, nor thou with me dam could have used force to stop her, but the use of force, “but force over free – will hath here no place.” Force is the negation of free will, so he did not use force. God gave man free will so that he could use his reason to choose between good and evil. For without this freedom, what possible value could there be in obedience.

Adam’s mistake was that he considered her to be perfect and forgot that frailty thy name is woman. He now repents for his error. Milton writes in this regard:

“Thus it shall befall
Him who, to worth in woman over-trusting
Lets her will rule; restraint she will not brook; And, left to herself, it even thence ensure,
She first his weak indulgence will accuse.”

With their transgression, hate, distrust, suspicion, discord, etc., enter the Garden of Eden. They begin accusing each other. Adam accuses Eve of disobedience and defiance. He blames her for bringing the wrath of God on them. (Fall of Man) Eve in return tells Adam of the trap laid for her and the temptation. Which she could not resist. She accuses Adam of not restraining with his authority. They go on accusing each other and continued to quarrel. (Fall of Man)

Thus they in mutual accusations spent
The fruitless hour, but neither self-condemning
And of their vain contest appeared no end (Li., 1187 – 1189)

In order to make the final decision, we revert to the opening lines of Book I, which read as under:

Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With the loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat
Sing Heavenly Muse

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