[Milton-L] Struggling with a paper
Jennifer Page / Joe Mayer
jenniferjoe at sprynet.com
Fri Feb 4 16:55:52 EST 2005
I think that you're making life difficult for yourself by attributing
to Eve "an affinity for knowledge" and "an interest in learning and
reason." Such intellectual inclinations on the part of Eve seem to me
questionable, and by positing them you make it harder to find
connections between her and Satan.
True, Satan tempts Eve by talking up the forbidden fruit's
Wisdom-giving properties. But he is not talking about knowledge for
knowledge's sake. Once her and Adam's eyes are opened, he says, they
"shall be as Gods." He appeals not so much to a love of knowledge, but
to her sense of not being duly appreciated, of being consigned to an
inferior status. (Here is an obvious link between her and Satan.).The
knowledge that she'll gain will remedy her impairment.
A similar argument can be made about her question in Book 4: "But
wherefore all night long shine these, for whom / This glorious sight,
when sleep hath shut all eyes?" (4.657-58). At first sight, this
question might seem to indicate simply intellectual curiosity. But in
light of her Satan-inspired dream (Book 5) and Satan's successful pitch
in Book 9, this question can be seen as expressing dismay that the
glorious sight of the stars goes unappreciated, since sleep has shut
all eyes to their beauty. Such, she feels, is her own plight. In her
dream, the angel calls her "Nature's desire" at whom all things gaze
raptly, attracted by her beauty (5.45-47). Unappreciated beauty is now
This is not to say that Eve is by any means unintelligent or unable to
reason, but rather that with her intellectual abilities she strives for
something other than truth.
In hope that this helps you get that sucker written.
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