Narcissism in John Milton’s Paradise LostWhen Eve eats the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, her decision to tell Adam of her disobedience turns on two suppositions. If her transgression is kept secret from God, Eve’s augmented knowledge might increase Adam’s love for her, and perhaps cause her to be more equal or even superior to Adam. Even though Eve was created comparable to Adam as his helper, she refers to Adam as her “Author and Disposer.” Furthermore, she says that while God is Adam’s law, Adam is her law. Apparently, Eve chafes under this arrangement, as she wraps up her evaluation of not telling Adam of her sin with, “for inferior who is free?” However, her death is assured if God has seen her wrongdoing. In this alternative, God may provide Adam with another woman, rendering Eve extinct. Eve finds unendurable the possibility that Adam will father children with a new Eve. Eve’s consideration of either alternative depends on her narcissism and her need to be loved, even worshiped. Milton’s Eve, like Narcissus, is infatuated with herself. Created in Adam’s image, Eve draws Adam’s love, his narcissism projected onto Eve. Inexperienced with women’s wiles, uxorious Adam falls.
Having created Adam in his own image, the Lord God commanded Adam not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. After the Lord God created Eve from Adam’s rib, Milton’s Adam warns Eve that the consequence of eating the tree’s forbidden fruit will be the knowledge of death. From the Bible and Milton’s text, it is apparent that Eve hears directly only from Adam about the forbidden fruit. It is significant that God sends Raphael to “converse with Adam,” to warn him of the fall of Satan and his companions, and to alert Adam to the …
…rcissism engenders the desire to be worshipped as a Goddess. Wanting deity for both, Eve chooses to induce Adam to eat because she is resolved that Adam shall share her fate. Eve’s female charms seduce Adam. He desires Eve more than he loves God, and he eats freely of the fruit. Adam and Eve’s ardour, once based on mutual respect, turns to carnal lust. God’s Son berates Adam for subjecting himself to Eve’s will. Why did Adam obey Eve, who is in no way superior to Adam in reason and other faculties of the mind? Adam has sinned against God; Eve has sinned against God and Adam. Only when Mary of the seed of Adam and Eve conceives the Son of God does God extend his grace to mankind, permitting narcissistic Eve and uxorious Adam’s progeny to enter heaven.
Works Cited and Consulted
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. Merritt Y. Hughes. New York: Odyssey Press, 1962.