Milton’s Paradise Lost has been praised as being the greatest English epic of all time, most stunningly in its author's depiction of the parents of humanity, Adam and Eve. How Milton chose to portray the original mother and father has been a focus of much criticism with contemporary readers. One of the main subjects of these comments is in reference to Eve, who, according to many, is a trivial character that is most definitely inferior to her mate. Nonetheless, many do not recognize that, after the fateful Fall, she becomes a much more evolved character. When Eve is introduced to the storyline of the epic, her character is shallow and extremely undeveloped, meant simply for display. She is quite firmly set as being inferior to her mate as a female in a predominantly male world. However, upon her decision to eat the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, her change is dramatic and she is no longer the simple character seriously lacking in depth of intellect or knowledge. Thus, as portrayed by Milton, the Fall of the parents of humanity is, in fact, an educational and developing process for Eve.
Immediately upon the introduction of Eve to the epic she is clearly portrayed as being slightly dimwitted and unsophisticated, and seems to simply exist for the exhibition of her beauty and grace. She is shown as being desirable and extremely beautiful to look upon, as Milton often describes her beauty. Actually, the first time that Eve sees Adam she flees from him in fear, as he was not as beautiful as the image that she saw of herself in a pool of water. In fact, she was so infatuated with the image of herself that she would have remained had God not taken her away to meet her mate: “Pleas’d it return’d as soon with answering looks/ Of sy...
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11. Gulden, Ann, Torday. “Milton’s Eve and Wisdom: the ‘Dinner Party’ Scene in
Paradise Lost. Milton Quarterly. 32.4 (1998) 137-143.
12. Hart, Thomas, E. “Milton’s Eve and the Ramayana’s Sita: Two Female Archetypes.”
13. Lewis, C.S. A Preface to Paradise Lost. London:Oxford University Press, 1942. 116-
!4. Milton, John. Paradise Lost and Other Poems. Intr. Edwards Le Comte. New York:
Mentor Books, 1961. 33-343.
15. Milton, John. Milton: Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. Ed. Chrisropher Ricks.
New York: New American Library, 1982.
16. Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. 2nd ed.
London: Cambridge at the University Press, 1961. 357-370.
17. Stone, James, W. “Man’s Effeminate Slackness: Androgyny and the Divided Unity
of Adam and Eve.” Milton Quarterly. 31.2 (1997) 33-42.
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