In Book IV of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Eve recounts her memory of her first living moments to Adam. Eve relates that upon seeing Adam, she turned around and began walking in the opposite direction. Eve then quotes the exact words Adam used to convince her to stay: “Return fair Eve! …my other half” (page 91, lines 481-488). Upon examining Adam’s words, I discovered that Adam takes advantage of Eve’s lack of knowledge when reasoning with her. He doesn’t tell her everything. He keeps a few pieces of important information to himself. Assuming all Adam’s logic is truthful and based on facts, then he has a very valid argument as to why she should stay with him. But since it is not based on substantial evidence, rather assumptions, as I will soon prove, his argument to Eve will be shown to be invalid and should be disregarded. Yet, since Eve is unaware of all the facts and has only Adam’s words to believe, Adam prevails and his reasoning wins Eve’s heart, “I yielded, and from that time see how beauty is excelled by manly grace and wisdom which alone is truly fair.” (lines 489-491)
I will begin my proof by analyzing Adam’s use of the word “lent” in “To give thee being I lent out of my side to thee.” (lines 483- 484) According to The Free Dictionary, “lent” is the past tense form of the word “lend” which means “to permit the use of (something) with the expectation of return of the same or an equivalent.” Firstly, how does Adam know that an act of loaning took place? We turn to book VIII where Adam relates his vision of Eve’s creation to Raphael. He says “Mine eyes he closed… abstract as in a trance methought I saw (though sleeping where I lay),” (page 190, lines 460-463) showing that at the time, he was neither conscious nor…
…ts Adam’s truth distortions have on Eve are quite simple. Saying he consented to the loan tells Eve that Adam did something nice for Eve that he didn’t have to do, and that without him, she would not exist. Thus, gaining her compassion and giving her an extremely strong feeling of indebtedness. Adding that what he loaned her was “substantial” life implies that she owes him something of a similar degree of importance in return, which he claims to be her. Obviously wanting to fulfill her obligation, she “reimburses” her creditor, “I yielded” (line 489).
Now it is clear that from the outset, Adam exploits Eve’s lack of knowledge in order to “Have thee by my side” (line 485). Was this the only way to accomplish his goal? Probably not. But was it the safest way (the most likely to work)? I think so, and apparently, so does Adam.