John Milton’s Treatment of Adam and Eve in Book IX of Paradise Lost
Adam and Eve, the first couple on the face of the earth, are the chief ancestors of man. These are the only two human beings who have been included in, John Milton. Before their fall, they knew not any human beings from the other world. They were living a happy life in the Garden of Eden. In this Garden, they have little to do but to lop and prune and prop and bind to adore their creator and to avoid the prohibited tree. Their maker has very kindly and benevolently exempted from all types of pains and wounds. (This article also answers the question: What was the subject of Paradise Lost? )
Physically Adam’s built is quite majestic which even scares Satan to approach him. They do not, have any bindings on themselves, and enjoy full freedom of action. The only restraint, which their Creator has bound them is, they will avoid the prohibited tree and yet they transgress. According to them, as related to the “Paradise Lost”, Eve surrenders to the frivolity of her mind. She does not understand the flattery of the serpent and its consequences. In the case of Adam, the fall results when he yields to her persuasions though he knows fully well her enormity and his own act of transgression. After committing the offense, the passion overpowers them. They quarrel with each other and grow greedy and sensual. Adam reaches the height of criminal levity when he says:
If such pleasure be
In things to us forbidden, it might be wished
For this one tree had been forbidden
The victory of passion over reason is thus complete. According to Raleigh:
Adam from the wealth of his inexperience is lavishly sententious, but C.S Lewis considers Raleigh’s inference to Adam’s inexperience as misleading. He says, “The whole point about Adam and Eve is that, as they would never, but for sin, have been old, so they were never young, never immature and underdeveloped. They were created full-grown and perfect. Adam was, from the first man in knowledge as well as in stature. No useful criticism of Miltonic Adam is possible until the last trace of the naive, simple, childlike Adam has been removed from our imagination. And from the very first sight, we have the human pair Milton begins doing so.”Raleigh’s remarks
As far as Adam’s relations with Eve are concerned, we must recognize their greatness. His lectures to his wife sometimes excite the smile of modern readers. He is not merely her husband; he is the total of all human knowledge, and wisdom, and answers her as Solomon answered the Queen of Sheba.
Character of Eve
“The royalty is less apparent in Eve, partly because she is in fact Adam’s inferior, in her double capacity of wife and subject, but partly I believe, because, her humility is after misunderstood. She thinks herself more fortunate than he because she has him as her companion while he, “like consort to himself” can nowhere find” and obeys his commands un-argued. “This is humility, and, in Milton’s view becoming humility. “
“But do not forget that it is to Adam she speaks; a lover, to a lover, a wife to a husband, the Queen of the earth to the KIng.” “In actual life, many women in love, many wives, perhaps many queens, have at some time said or thought as much. We see her prostrate herself in spirit before Adam as an Emperor might kneel to a Pope or as Queen courtesies to a king. Apart from all this, she has truly depicted majestic.
There is no doubt that Milton was extraordinarily susceptible to the woman’s beauty and charms. His weakness is quite evident in the case of the matriarch of the world-eve:
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say
Seems wisest, virtuousness, discreetness, best
However, we can come to this conclusion that of the two, “Eve is better drawn and the more human.” She is at all times self-sacrificing, quite obedient to Adam and these are the womanly qualities, which we find in Milton’s description.
“There is no speech of Adam’s to be matched with the pleading intensity of Even’s appeal, beginning”. “Forsake me not thus, Adam!” and to her, Milton commits the last and best speech spoken in Paradise:
But note lend on
In we do not delay; with thee to go,
is to stay here; without thee there to stay,
Is to go hence unveiling; thou to me.
Art all things under heaven, all places thou
Who for my awful crime art banished hence
Even, as for as her qualities are concerned, she is generous and loving. “Her only reproach addressed to Adam is that he acceded to her request and permitted her on that fateful morning, to do her gardening alone; among the roses and mysteries. There is even a certain dramatic development in her character after she has eaten of the fruit, audacity, and deceit appear in her reflections; she meditates withholding from p dam the advantages of the tree, in order that she may become:
More equal, and perhaps,
And thing not undesirable-sometimes superior
This is as near an approach to drama in handling of a human situation as is to be found in all Paradise Lost.