[Milton-L] help interpret a line

John Leonard jleonadr at uwo.ca
Sun Jan 25 14:50:19 EST 2004

Diane McColley wrote:
The first false premise is indeed the starting point, that the fruit
itself gives wisdom.

Is it a false premise? The fruit *does* give knowledge of death.  Before
she ate, Eve had no answer when Satan (just six lines before the line in
question) said:  "whatever thing death be."  After she has eaten, she
has a new notion of death as extinction.  She says "I shall be no more"
(9.827).  This new knowledge is not welcome to Eve, but it is new
knowledge, and it does come right after eating the fruit.  Before the
Fall, Adam and Eve are afraid of death but have no idea of what it is
they fear ("whatever thing death is.  Som dreadful thing no doubt").
After the Fall, they have an inkling of what death involves (though they
do not immediately apprehend the full terror of the Second Death).
Satan's tactic, at least in part, is to assure Eve that she doesn't need
to be afraid of something she doesn't understand.
John Leonard
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