What makes Adam different from Eve and vice versa? Is it because Adam happens to be a man, and Eve is a woman? Even though this happens to be a true fact, there is a deeper meaning to contrasting Adam and Eve. John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, gives key differences when contrasting Adam and Eve. Paradise Lost can be summed up as being about the creation of the world, which is known as “the paradise” and the events before and after that surrounded the creation. Along with the creation of the world came the creation of the first two human beings known to mankind, better known as Adam and Eve. Although Adam and Eve were created equally by GOD, these characters shared different thoughts and performed different actions that distinguished them from one another, which lead to them having contrasting strengths and weaknesses.
When GOD was in the process of creating the first two human beings, one would predict that they would be very similar. From the physical outlook, differences between Adam and Eve could be seen easily, simply because of the physical characteristics that differentiate man and woman. But if the human eye were to somehow dig deeper beneath the skin of Adam and Eve, one could see how the two were fairly different. One way of distinguishing one from the other and contrasting the two would be the strengths that each of them possessed. With the strengths, Milton not only showed the differences through the personality, but through the actions as well. The stronger of the two or the character that possessed the most strength was Adam. Even though this choice is very much debatable, Milton backs this up with examples within Paradise Lost.
Both Adam and Eve possessed thoughts, and performed actions that one would consider strength. But there are certain strengths that stick out to one’s mind, and that had an effect surrounding the story. Eve’s greatest strength was her capacity for love, emotion, and forbearance. In contrast to Adam, Eve possessed a large amount of love in her heart, which leads her to curiosity and being able to think “outside the box”. Adam did have a great capacity of love foe Eve, but it is nothing compared to the capacity that Eve held. “She as a veil down to the slender waist Her unadorned golden tresses wore Disheveled but in wanton ringlets waved As the vine curls her tendrils, which implied Subjection, but required with gentle sway And by her yielded, by him best received Yielded with coy submission, modest pride, And sweet reluctant amorous delay” (IV, 304-311). This quote lists characteristics of Adam and Eve, but what separates the two qualities is Adam’s “reluctant amorous delay”. These quoted words describe Adam’s struggling for position in with love, which proves the point that he had a smaller capacity for love than Eve.
Adam on the other hand possessed more strengths than Eve. This is believable because Adam was naturally built by GOD to lead Eve, as Milton proclaimed in the epic. For one, Adam was strong, intelligent, and rational. Milton also claimed Adam as being “the most perfect as any human being would ever be.” But the strength that set him apart from Eve and that contrasts his strength from hers, was his capacity for reason. He could understand the most sophisticated ideas instantly. Eve did not possess this; therefore she was easily influenced and deceived. Proof of her being easily fooled, would be how she was the first to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Adam tended to take his approach on problems by thinking critically and asking help from GOD. So although Adam and Eve were created equally by GOD, each of them possessed different strengths that distinguished them from one another.
Along with the strengths of Adam and Eve, there also came weaknesses. Between Adam and Eve, Eve possessed more weaknesses than Adam. Again this is a debatable opinion, but in the case of Paradise Lost, Milton portrayed this. Eve was created to be led by Adam, but did not do so because of her lack of learning. Milton portrayed Eve as being slightly inferior to Adam. Even though she was in love with him, she resented him because she fell in love with her own natural beauty. One case of this is a part in the epic poem when Eve began gazing at her reflection in the water. It was then that she became somewhat conceited, and one of her greatest weaknesses became her assets and vanity.
Another form of Eve’s weakness was her lack of intelligence. She did not approach situations that called for reason, correctly. An example of this is the way she was easily seduced by Satan. “The varieties of hatred and revenge exhibited by the demons during their infernal council are rooted in fallen human experience” (Ryken 103). This quote connects to the point that Milton portrayed the fall of Eve and mankind, through her experience with Satan. She had a weaker mindset than Adam because Satan seduced her into eating from the Tree of knowledge.
From reading Paradise Lost one could possibly blame Eve for the downfall of Adam. But what makes Adam’s weakness different from Eve is the person that he had loved for. Eve fell in love with her own assets and vanity. In contrast, Adam did not fall in love with himself, but instead fell in love with Eve. “Adam’s desire for Eve in Paradise Lost is nothing if not honorable, and, indeed, it does induce in him the gravest perturbations. He yields to his desire and suffers calamity as a result” (McMahon 51).
That happened to be Adams greatest weakness and his downfall; his great love for Eve. As a result for his strong infatuation for Eve, she could easily persuade him, as Satan persuaded her. Adam did not want to lose and upset Eve, so Eve’s love lured Adam into eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Another weakness that Adam possessed was his thirst for knowledge. This also contributed to his downfall because he was always willing and wanting to know more. An ironic comparison is how Adam’s “thirst for knowledge” led him to the “Tree of Knowledge.” So in summation Adam’s weaknesses led him to disobey GOD for Eve. Although Adam and Eve were created equally by GOD, their different thoughts and actions led to a contrast in each other’s weaknesses.
In the final analysis, one can see how similar characters from birth, grew to be different characters with time. Although Adam and Eve were created equally by GOD, these characters shared different thoughts and performed different actions that distinguished them from one another, which lead to them having contrasting strengths and weaknesses. Neither of the characters were heroes nor satanic figures, even though they contributed to the downfall of man. “Paradise Lost is a Christian epic and Christ is the hero.
Milton has laid the classic epic under tribute for details that adorn a new and in most respect modern type” (Woodhull 256). This quote shows how others see the detail that Milton put in to describing Adam and Eve, and making it more understandable in today’s world. In closing, the synopsis of Paradise Lost is very debatable when comparing or contrasting Adam and Eve. They were the two first human beings known to mankind, and set the stage for the rest of the world. Milton portrays each Adam and Eve to the fullest that gives readers a chance to have their own clear views about each.
McMahon, Robert. The Two Poets of Paradise Lost. Louisiana: Louisiana Tate University Press, 1998. Milton, John. Edited by Teskey, Gordon. Paradise Lost. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc, 2005. Ryken, Leland. The Apocalyptic Vision in Paradise Lost. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1970. Woodhull, Marianna. The Epic of Paradise Lost Twelve Essays. New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1907.