Milton’s Eve in Paradise Lost is apparently the weakness of Adam and the tragedy of Eden; she was a mere reflection of him “whose image thou art (Milton, Book 4, Line 472)”; she is subject to Adam to whom she says “God is thy law, thou mine (Milton, Book 4, Line 637). ” Lastly, Adam himself calls her “the inferior, in the mind and inward faculties(Milton, Book 8, Line 542). ” This weakness becomes the strength to contradict the established order. Being a tenuous reflection allows for the willingness to change that evolutionary progress depends on.
Her subjection to Adam, a creature with limitations, bestows on that servility the possibility of autonomy. Inferiority in mind, because it denotes a lack of a closed framework of thought, permits an openness that is characteristic of true wisdom. Adam’s Soul and the Catalyst of the Myth Eve was Adam’s soul by which he breathed his life to other humans, that part of him which made choices, the part of him which was not totally subject to God. She needed to face the serpent alone and choose between free will and absolute mandate. In this sense, she embodied the active content of the story.
Eve brings about change, and the episode of the meal is a central example in the series of incidents where she is the principal actor (Gulden). ” Without her, Adam would had been idling about Eden, lonely and without purpose forever. Eve’s Choice Was God’s Choice We know the consequences of her choice. But what would have happened if she had chosen blind obedience instead. Paradise would have never been lost, but everything else which followed the fall, all the great saints and heroes of mankind, the shining examples of virtue would never have lived.
This, in itself, justifies Eve’s option for free will with all its consequences; it was in accordance with the divine plan that man should himself realize his own Divinity. The thinking human race as we know it today, struggling for and intensely aware of its dignity, would never have been. Price says that “we gradually learn that the hero of the poem is Eve…Milton sees that the human race could literally not have continued (or developed) without her(Price).
Man would have been eternally happy and eternally without free will, divine and irresponsible and senseless. The Wisdom of Eve Eve’s acknowledged role in Paradise was to people it with beings on a higher level than the beast’s and the fowl. In an environment graced by the blissful predictability of mental subjugation to a benign dictator, the forbidden fruit represented the chance to gain the sense of responsibility and autonomy that man as a spiritual being craves.
It is the lack of the divine order providing an adequate sense of identity and autonomy to Eve that precipitates both her and Adam to the fall (Mason). ” Feeling this need inside her, knowing that she was Adam’s image and he was the image of God, she intuited that the fruit was not evil and was not meant so much as test of obedience but a challenge to make an individual’s choice and take responsibility for that choice. What we lost in Paradise was only given to us; what we hope to have after that we ourselves will have merited by our endurance and courage.