Eve’s Transgression Against Mankind

Eve got duped by the satanic serpent. She was tricked into doing the one singular thing that God told her not to do. Adam is understandably upset because he even warned her not to eat the fruit, but is he completely justified in his actions post-fruit consumption?

Book IX of Paradise Lost finally unveiled the climax the of the poem: the fall of mankind performed by Eve. We see Satan mystically pop over into Eden with the intent of destroying God’s creation that took him six days to make and wreck havoc in just one day. He takes the form of a serpent, which carries too much symbolism for my pedigree to even get into. As Adam and Eve split up for their daily chores, Satan the Serpent follows Eve. He appeals to her beauty with compliments and says that God is not allowing them to eat from the Tree of Knowledge because he does not want them to have independence and free will. Eve takes this into consideration and munches on the fruit; thus, mankind has fallen. Adam is horrified when she appeals to him to eat the fruit and join her, but he is too entranced by her sexuality and dooms himself as well.

I found the passage and discussion between Satan the Serpent and Eve to be filled with sexual innuendo, which seems odd and vulgar for a man of religion like Milton was to put down onto paper for the rest of history. I felt that this was a commentary on the seductiveness of women, and I don’t know if these were Milton’s feelings about women, but I can understand that his religious background and time period in which this was written would lead him to believe this. Put simply, if Eve had just submitted and listened to Adam as God had intended, mankind would not be in this predicament. Then, as if the lines with Satan and Ever were not enough to get this point across, Eve seduces Adam because she does not want him to love another woman and would rather have him doomed with her. Too in love with her to think otherwise, Adam decides to be doomed as well to be with her.

Once they have both eaten the fruit, everything essentially goes to crap. They run off to presumably be intimate, and once they wake, they realize the shame that their actions have brought. Their sexuality is now a sin and needs to be hidden, which they accomplish with leaves to cover their genitalia. This led me to make the connection that Milton is making the parallel that a woman’s sexuality is the sin in this instance. Had Eve not been so lustful and wanting more than what she had been granted by God, she and mankind never would have fallen. This is a common theme again in literature of this time period, equating a woman’s sexuality with shame.

So, now what? Where does the story go from here? Is it several more books of Adam and Eve arguing over their poor life choices? What beastly form does Satan take next? Does Raphael come back to talk more about how angels make love? Stay tuned for the next book of Paradise Lost to find out the answer to all of these burning questions!

-Marie Burns Spring ’20