[Milton-L] Re: Eve seeking temptation

Nancy Rosenfeld rosenfeld.n at gmail.com
Mon Sep 7 13:26:23 EDT 2009


Dear all,

Any comments on the following remark made by Adam in his attempt to convince
Eve not to go off alone?

For he who tempts, though in vain, at least asperses
The tempted with dishonour foul, supposed
Not incorruptible of faith, not proof
Against temptation (IX.296-9).

The above sounds to me like a claim on Adam's part for the validity of a
sort of "guilt by association," i.e. even if one successfully
resists temptation, the very fact of having been seen by the enemy as a
possible victim in some way sullies one. Of course I haven't lost sight of
the identity of the speaker: Adam may be giving expression to his own
idea--one which Milton may not have found acceptable.

In Adam's defense we might note that although disturbed by Eve's narration
of her dream of yielding to Satan's temptation in Book V, he explains to her
at some length why:

Evil into the mind of god or man
May come and go, so unapproved, and leave
No spot or blame behind: which gives me hope
That what in sleep thou didst abhor to dream,
Waking thou never wilt consent to do (V.117-20).

So why does Adam attempt to play the "aspersion" card in the opening of his
debate with Eve in Book IX? Has he (or Milton) rethought the issue? Or is he
trying to bring forward as many arguments as possible, hoping that one of
them will convince Eve?

All the best,
Nancy Rosenfeld.

Nancy Rosenfeld, PhD.
English Studies Unit
Max Stern College of Jezreel Valley, Israel.
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