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In book 4, lines 408-535 of Milton's Paradise Lost, what does Eve think about her...

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slideslider | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 17, 2012 at 5:54 PM via web

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In book 4, lines 408-535 of Milton's Paradise Lost, what does Eve think about her subservience to Adam?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:05 PM (Answer #1)

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At this point in the epic, Eve seems happy to yield to Adam, but not unambiguously so. Adam is lecturing her, essentially, about the reasons why they should not eat the forbidden fruit, saying that God has given them so much, and that He has only asked for their obedience on this one simple matter in return. Eve agrees, but reminisceces about the time she was staring at her own reflection in the water. Adam called her, but when she turned around, she saw him as less fair than her reflection. But Adam persuaded her to come with him, and she tells him that since then, she has come to understand that his "manly grace" is superior to pure physical beauty:

Part of my Soul I seek thee, and thee claim
My other half: with that thy gentle hand
Seisd mine, I yielded, and from that time see
How beauty is excelld by manly grace
And wisdom, which alone is truly fair.

So the reader (and, more importantly, Satan, who is listening to the whole conversation) learns that Eve truly loves and admires Adam, but that she has had her moments of doubt and weakness. Indeed, she is portrayed at this point in the poem as being ultimately inferior to Adam, whose capacity for reason exceeds her own.

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