[Milton-L] Adam and Eve alone

John Leonard jleonard at uwo.ca
Sun Mar 28 22:40:59 EDT 2010

Louis writes:

> To me the most interesting difference has always been the elaborate way in 
> which God first allows Adam a period in which to develop and articulate an 
> acute sense of loneliness before then creating a companion for him; then 
> He allows him to witness the creation and immediately fall in love, before 
> then taking the new companion away before he wakes up (this sequence is 
> part of the passage's strange and suggestive intertext with Sonnet 23).

"Taking the new companion away"?  Is there any textual evidence that God 
*takes* Eve away from Adam?  Adam awakes to find that she is not there 
(echoing and even quoting "Methought I saw" from the sonnet), but how do we 
know that  God *led* her to the lake?  Might she not wander off there by 
herself?  I am not referring to the moment when she turns *back* to the lake 
upon first seeing Adam (4.480 corresponding to 8.507); I am referring to the 
means by which she arrives at the lake in the first place.  Unless I have 
missed something, the poem is inconclusive on this point.  I have always 
assumed that Eve just wanders off, not even noticing Adam, who is presumably 
close by, still in his trance.  Eve awakes "under a shade of flowers" (that 
is the 1674 reading, though 1667 has "on" not "of").  If Eve is under 
(rather than on) the flowers, that might explain why she does not see Adam. 
Her wandering off can perhaps be read as a dangerous moment, but God's test 
(if it is that) would be very different if he had actually *taken* her away. 
Perhaps it is pointless to speculate how Eve arrived at the lake (the old 
sin of "extra-textual speculation"), but we should wary, I think, of 
assuming that God led her there.

John Leonard

John Leonard 

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