[Milton-L] Free will in Eden

Margaret Thickstun mthickst at hamilton.edu
Tue Nov 9 16:41:05 EST 2004

Christopher--you can start with Eve's choice to join Adam as she 
relates it in her birth story--she sees him; he is "less winning 
fair"; she turns away; he calls; she "yields" or chooses.  Diane 
McColley's Milton's Eve is very good and accessible on this scene. 
Adam and Eve exercise their judgments about many things in 
prelapsarian Eden--they choose to go to bed so that they can get up 
in the morning to attend to their responsibilities.  Accepting 
responsibility--even for just gardening--seems to me to be an ethical 
act.  Does your student require an actual choice between "a good act" 
and "a bad act" for a decision to be "ethical"?

Adam and Eve seem "truly human" to me, in that they learn and ask 
questions and care for one another and the Garden.  Are small 
children not "truly human" if they have not been exposed to the evil 
of the world?

In regard to the following:
At 3:55 PM -0500 11/9/04, Christopher Baker wrote:
>Yet granted that, what is there in Eden to "see and know" that will 
>validate a choice between real good and real evil?

Does learning about evil through stories count?  Isn't that what we 
do in teaching stories--give our students the chance to learn 
vicariously about evil (all those mistakes characters make) so that 
they can avoid them?--Margie

Margaret Thickstun
Professor of English
Hamilton College
198 College Hill Rd
Clinton, NY 13323

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