ON MILTON’S “PARADISE LOST”

After my reading of this famous epic, by John Milton, my major thoughts are, of course, on the fall of man. However, my focus is not on the tragedy of that event, but of the love story that might not be too revealing for all to see but yet so strong I couldn’t resist pondering on it.
Before I go into my thoughts, let me give an overview of this Epic as well as a brief history of the writer himself.
John Milton, at the age of 44, went completely blind. An impairment that for a moment left him devastated. He was sure his writing days had come to an end yet he felt deeply, that he had not yet fulfilled his purpose on earth and that pained him greatly. It was at this time of distress that he wrote his famous sonnet “On His Blindness” (When I Consider How My Light Is Spent).
After this, he went on to write all three of his Epics, “Paradise Lost,” “Paradise Regained” and “Samson Agonistes”
Paradise Lost, as the name slightly reveals, is an Epic on the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Milton takes us through the war that happened in heaven, the banishment of Satan and other rebel angels, and their ultimate plot against man and the universe. He then moves on to introduce the first man and the mother of all creation to us, how she is deceived, and how he also falls.
Although this fall was conveyed not only by Milton as a tragedy of mortal sin, I would like to strain out a very interesting love story.

As per the Bible, and then from the Epic, the mother of all creation, Eve, was the one who encountered Lucifer. He enticed her. Deceived her, and this is what happened…

“So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the Fruit, she plucked, she ate
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat
Sighing through all her Works gave signs of woe
That all was lost…”

After eating the fruit, her eyes were opened and she contemplated whether to share the fruit with her partner or not. Initially she decided not to, so she’d have power over him. But after thinking things through, she concluded that she knew not what the true consequences of her actions were and so she was going to share; that done, whatever comes, she’d bare it with her partner, whether good or evil.

Eve’s fall was therefore born out of pure deception. She was made to think it was a good move to eat that fruit. But let’s go to Adam. Eve finds him and upon seeing her, he immediately knows what has happened to her, for she had changed. She tells him what she had done and he laments! (This very quote is where my interest lies) –

“O fairest of Creation, last and best
Of all God’s Works, Creature in whom excelled
Whatever can to fight or thought be found
Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet!
How art thou lost, how on a sudden lost
Defaced, deflowered, and now to death devote?
Rather how hast thou yielded to transgress
The strict forbiddance, how to violate
The sacred Fruit forbidden! Some cursed fraud
Of enemy hath beguiled thee, yet unknown,
And me, with thee hath ruined, for with thee
Certain my resolution is to Die;
How can I live without thee, how forgo
Thy sweet Converse and Love so dearly joined
To live again in these wild woods forlorn?
Should God create another Eve and I
Another rib afford, yet loss of thee
Would never (depart) from my heart; no, no, I feel
The link of Nature draws me: Flesh of my Flesh
Bone of my Bone thou art, and from thy State
Mine shall be parted, bliss or woe”

Did you read that out loud? What Adam said to Eve? He knew she was doomed. He knew him eating the fruit meant Death, and yet he looked upon her and said, to paraphrase,

“Look here my love, this thing that you have done now, you are going to suffer for it…eventually die for it. But I can’t let you go. No. I can’t live without you. Why let you go? So God will make me another woman with another of my ribs? I don’t want another Eve. I want you. You are a part of me and I love you. And so I choose to suffer with you. I choose to die with you”

My, oh my! Now tell me this is not love!! He knew the extensive consequences that decision held for him but for that one woman, he gave in. Call him stupid, but love, true love, he did have for Eve, and that, I think, is simply beautiful!
Hmm, as to whether Eve loved him equally, I will talk about that another time.

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16 thoughts on “ON MILTON’S “PARADISE LOST”

    1. The many angles this can be looked at fascinates me. What if she was not able to convince him? What if she had been the only one banished and another Eve was made? What if another Eve was made and Adam just could not forget the first Eve? lol, I love this Epic!

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  1. …and people still don’t get the Romantic ideal?!

    I see it here manifested in a manner much more powerful than Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

    As a matter of fact, I’ve looked at the Adam and Eve story in this way before, but only briefly. That story seemed too old…until now.

    I’m really glad I read this post. I’m sure to use such a powerful love story in my yet-to-be-famous epic poem 😀

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