[Milton-L] Is Eve seeking temptation?
srevard at siue.edu
srevard at siue.edu
Mon Sep 7 09:21:25 EDT 2009
I do not deny that the question of temptation comes into the
argument, but I still think it is a mistake to say that Eve
is seeking temptation when she separates from Adam. What she
is countering after Adam brings up the question of temptation
is the question whether she, should a tempter appear, would
be strong enough to resist him. She says she would be, and
further argues that both must be sufficient, whether together
or alone, to resist temptation, should it come.
That to me is not to seek temptation--even that is what Adam
accuses her of doing.
Indeed, when she goes off to prop up those rose, the whole
notion of temptation or a tempter goes right out of her head.
She should not have forgotten Adam's warnings, but she does.
If she were seeking temptation, she should have been more
alert when the serpent starts to spin his arguments.
She has the opportunity to resist temptation, as she says
she would do, and she blows it.
Quoting John Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca>:
> Stella says that "Eve is not seeking trial," to which Gardner replies "I
> think she is." When two very fine Miltonists disagree on a question as
> fundamental as this, we can sure something interesting is happening in the
> text. My own view is halfway between Stella and Gardner. I do not think
> that Eve is initially seeking temptation when she proposes to work
> separately. She just wants to get the work done more efficicently. Satan
> is not even on her mind in her first speech (9.205-225). But when Adam
> suggests that she might be wiser to stay by his side. . . . THAT is the
> turning point. Eve is hurt:
> But that thou shouldst my firmness therefore doubt
> To God or thee, because we have a foe
> May tempt it, I expected not to hear. (9.279-81)
> >From this moment on Eve is seeking temptation. But she wasn't before.
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