Discuss Milton’s Eve, in Paradise Lost, as a prototype of Feminist Individualism. 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Eve is presented as the weaker of the two (Adam and Eve) in many Biblical interpretations and in Paradise Lost. Determined to prove that she is not weak, she persuades Adam to let her work alone. Being alone, she is vulnerable to Satan's superior intellect and this leads to her fall/eating the fruit. However, she does show courage and individualism in attempting to go off on her own. She implores Adam to trust her. And she reasons that Eden must be perfect. And if it were truly perfect, they would be safe and secure whether they are together or apart. Being equally secure when they are apart from each other, Eve implies that a truly perfect Eden would surely grant this equality:

Let us not then suspect our happie State

Left so imperfet by the Maker wise,

As not secure to single or combin'd.

Fraile is our happiness if this be so,

And Eden were no Eden thus expos'd. (IX.337-41)

Even after Eve and Adam are both tempted, she argues that despite Adam's alleged or actual superior reason, he also would have succumbed to Satan's tricks.

Or to thyself perhaps: hadst thou been there,

Or here, th' attempt, thou couldst not have discernd. (IX.1148-49)

If Eve was actually created with intellect inferior to Adam's then it was his fault for letting her go off alone. Despite her supposed inferior reason, she persuaded Adam to let her go; and she demonstrated her individualism in doing so. In any case, she reasons that the serpent would have tricked either one of them, thus arguing that they are equally vulnerable to temptation, and in this sense, they are equals.

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