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But it was Milton who – even while emphasising her special culpability – gave her character special depth, including paradoxical power and exceptional poignancy. 456–7) and was entranced by her own image, much like a female version of the mythical Greek Narcissus.
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.
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?
Beginning ‘O Sacred, Wise, and Wisdom-giving Plant, / Mother of Science, Now I feel thy Power / Within me clear’ (Book 9, ll.
679–81), he argues duplicitously that once she eats of this fruit she will be ‘as Gods, / Knowing both Good and Evil as they know’ (Book 9, ll. His words ‘Into her heart too easy entrance won’ (Book 9, l.
425) and begins his fatal seduction by praising her ‘Celestial Beauty’ (Book 9, l. Astonished and not a little flattered, she wonders at his command of human speech: ‘What may this mean? Now Satan embarks on his great temptation speech, which is almost like an operatic aria in praise of a certain ‘goodly Tree’ (Book 9, l. Once he had eaten of it, he tells his naive listener, he experienced ‘Strange alteration’ (Book 9, l. 614) Eve expresses an interest in seeing this amazing tree, and, of course, serpentine Satan leads her directly there.
Language of Man pronounc’t / By Tongue of Brute, and human sense exprest? 599), including ‘Reason in my inward Powers, and Speech’ (Book 9, l. When she remonstrates that this tree bears forbidden fruit, he embarks on another operatic aria praising its beneficence, to which she listens in all innocence.
If a kind of drunkenness was Eve’s first reaction to the fruit, lust is Adam’s, who finds her ‘inflaming’ (Book 9, l.
1013) his senses and leads her, ‘nothing loath’ (Book 9, l. Where their earlier lovemaking had been innocent and beautiful, their new fall into ‘Love’s disport’ is ‘of their mutual guilt the Seal, / the solace of their sin’ (Book 9, ll. When they wake from a gross sleep, they suddenly feel shame at their nakedness, ‘destitute and bare / Of all their virtue’ (Book 9, ll. Horrified, they fall to blaming each other, and, tellingly, ‘in mutual accusation spent / The , Milton depicts her mounting remorse, shame and guilt.