Paradise Lost Essay Questions

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Hee hath eat’n and lives, / And knows and speaks, and reasons and discerns, / Irrational till then’ (Book 9, ll. In her soul she now appears as resentful, as Satan was before her. Or to us denied / This intellectual food, for beasts reserv’d? her rash hand in evil hour Forth reaching to the Fruit, she pluck’d, she eat; Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat Sighing through all her works gave signs of woe, That all was lost. 780–84) Now, though she has been ‘eating Death’ (Book 9, l. Musing with an arrogance that parallels Satan’s, she utters words that confirm her sinfulness, as she fantasises that she might, Ultimately, it’s only the fear that God might have seen her violation of His law that convinces her to offer the fruit to Adam.

For what if she died and were replaced with another Eve?

is vain vulnerable and evidently intellectually inferior to Adam.

However, Sandra M Gilbert argues that, though Milton portrays her as a weak character, he also puts her on a par with Satan in her refusal to accept hierarchy and because of her ability to move the plot of will primarily examine ‘Man’s First Disobedience, and the Fruit / Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste / Brought Death into the World’ (Book 1, ll.

As Milton shows us, not by chance, but through her own rebellious search for independence. Adam worries that harm will ‘Befall thee sever’d from me’ (Book 9, l. Her urge to separate herself from Adam, if only briefly, is curiously reminiscent of the way in which she had run away from him after she was first created to be his spouse and ‘second Self’, and already prefigures doom.

Early in Book 9, as the couple prepare to tend the Garden, she suggests to her husband that they should ‘divide our labours, thou where choice / Leads thee ... 252), for they must be on guard against a ‘malicious Foe / Envying our happiness’ (Book 9, ll. The wife, he declares, But Eve disagrees, protesting that if she and her husband are forced ‘to dwell / In narrow circuit strai’n’d by a Foe... Inevitably, as Eve journeys through the Garden on her own, Satan discovers her ‘Veil’d in a cloud of Fragrance’ (Book 9, l.

734), since she is more susceptible to such wiles than Adam.

Or, alternatively, is Eve more ambitious, rebellious and disobedient than Adam? As Eve, reasoning (perhaps sophistically) with herself, notes that though the eating of the fruit supposedly brings death, ‘How dies the Serpent? Satan has won the game, and Eve, in five succinct lines, determines to change the world: ... 793), she outlines an idolatrous plan to worship the Tree daily, then considers whether or not to share what she believes is her new divinity with her husband.

341), and from ‘many a berry, and from sweet kernels prest / She tempers dulcet creams’ (Book 5, ll. As the Father of Mankind and his spiritual guest enjoy their repast, ‘at table Eve / Minister’d naked, and thir flowing cups / With pleasant liquors crown’d’ (Book 5, ll. Such bliss, as God points out to his Son, is not fated to last.

Satan, the high-ranking angel once known as Lucifer, Son of the Morning, is enraged by his own secondariness to God’s Son and models rebellion to his followers and, ultimately, to Eve. Here Satan creeps again into Eden and resolves to disguise himself as a serpent. Gloriously phallic, the diabolic creature appears not ‘Prone on the ground, as since’, How, though, has Eve happened to encounter him? After all, she notes, when they work side-by-side, they waste too much time in loving discourse. What kind of bliss can there be in Eden, she seems to be wondering, if she has so little freedom?


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