Eve in the Garden of Eden
The most important characters in the epic poem, “Paradise Lost”, are Satan and Eve. These two characters are most responsible for the development and progression of events within the poem. Satan is the main figure throughout the vast majority of the plot. “Paradise Lost” follows Satan’s ultimately successful attempt to destroy God’s perfect creation, humanity, by forcing Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. In creating humanity, God set expectations and put in place boundaries for Adam and Eve, yet they were not particularly restrictive.Adam and Eve had free reign within the boundaries of the Garden, and free will to make their own decisions, though there were few necessary. Milton writes in Book 3, “I made him just and right/Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall” (3.97-99). Adam and Eve were able to make their own future together. All that was required of them was to take care of the land in Eden, which would not be harsh labor, as fruit was produced easily. In both the Bible story of the Garden of Eden and the expounded version by John Milton, Satan tricks Eve into eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Just as is true today, Milton’s audience in the eighteenth century would have been familiar with the story of Adam and Eve’s downfall. Readers know that Eve will ultimately be tricked by Satan and convince Adam to eat the fruit. Given that, the audience waits in anticipation for the moment when Eve is manipulated. Greenblatt et al. (2008) write of Adam and Eve, “Their relationship exhibits gender hierarchy, but Milton’s early readers may have been surprised by the fullness and complexity of Eve’s character and the centrality of her role”. This statement accuratel…
…cide to take the Fall together. This continues through the remaining books of the poem. After hearing God’s punishment, the two “…hand in hand with wandering steps and slow/Through Eden took their solitary way” (12.648-49). Adam and Eve would never return to Eden, but they retained their free will.
Milton does not make it clear throughout the early books that the story will include Eve and Adam eating of the Tree of Knowledge, or even include the Fall. God mentions on multiple occasions that the two humans have free will to make their own decisions and determine their own futures. The two humans ultimately do have the freedom to Fall, and succumb to the power of Satan and curiosity.Works Cited
Greenblatt, Stephen, and Meyer Howard Abrams. The Norton anthology of Englishliterature. Stephen Greenblatt & Meyer Howard Abrams. WW Norton &Company, 2012.