In Paradise Lost by John Milton, the character of Eve is not portrayed as being the most likeable character. Infact, Milton tends to describe Eve in a way that makes her come off as being the antagonist of the story. Milton depicts Eve as being worth less than Adam, being only defined by her beauty, and having similar characteristics to the character of Satan. The way Eve is characterized in the epic shows Milton’s views of the role of women in society and towards men.
First, Milton describes in multiple passages, how Eve was created to submit to Adam, while Adam was destined to rule. Though in the Bible it is made that clear that men and women are equal, Milton makes the character of Eve in the epic to be less than Adam. Milton clearly believes that women are to submit to their husbands, just as Eve was made to do. Milton also only characterizes Eve for her attractiveness. While Adam is constantly being characterized by his cleverness and comprehension, Eve is merely known for being pretty.
Milton demonstrates his belief that the worth of women is through their attractiveness, through the way he characterizes Eve. Lastly, Eve is seen as having many similarities to Satan, Eve is constantly being portrayed as the more Evil of the two, Adam and Eve. This demonstrates how Milton believes that men are closer to God due to the fact that they were created from God’s image, but women were only created from the image of man. In Paradise Lost by John Milton Eve is displayed as being less than Adam and made to be submissive to him.
When Milton first describes Eve he states, “She as a veil down to the slender waist her unadorned golden tresses wore dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved As the vine curls her tendrils, which implied subjection, but required with gentle sway, and by her yielded, by him best received, yielded with coy, submission,” (4. 304-311) When Milton describes Eve he depicts two key characteristics, subjection and submission. First he states that the way her hair waves implies her subjectiveness in her nature. In Paradise Lost Eve is meant to be subjective to Adam, who is basically her patriarch.
Milton then states how it is her nature to be submissive to Ada.. He mentions for she will always yield and submit to him while he will always receive. “Whence true authority in men; though both not equal, as their sex not equal seemed. “(4. 296) In the passage Milton bluntly states that the sex of men is of high authority than the sex of women. He describes how their sexes are not equal, for he clearly believes that men are above women.
Milton depicts that men were originally created to be dominant over women and to be the overall greater sex. Was she thy God, that her thou didst obey before his voice, or was she made thy guide, superior, or but equal, that to her thou didst resign thy manhood. ” (10. 145148) In this passage God is responding to Adam after he had eaten of the tree of knowledge, Milton is having the character of God acts as though it would be crazy to think that Eve could be his superior, or even his equal. In this passage it implies that Eve is not even Adam’s equal, but she is much less than him. It clearly shows that Adam must be Eve’s superior. He even goes as far as to say that it would be manly for Adam to consider Eve as his equal.
By doing this, Milton depicts women, in general, as being less than men. He clearly shows his belief that men and superior and closer to God than women. Eve is depicted as being important mostly just for her beauty, and not for wisdom or smarts. “For contemplation he and valor formed, for softness she and sweet attractive grace. ” (4. 296-297) Adam is created to be brave, strong, and wise. Whereas Eve was created to be attractive and nice. Milton states how Adam is made to think and contemplate, but he never says anything about Eve’s thoughts or contemplation.
Milton depicts women as being created to merely be attractive, while men do all the hard work and contemplating. “How beauty is excelled by manly grace and wisdom, which alone is truly fair. ” (4. 490-491) This quote implies that the only characteristic Milton associates with Eve and women is their beauty. But, with Adam, he is associated with the characteristics of “wisdom” and “grace”. Yet again Milton showcases his opinion of the belief that women’s only function is that they are attractive.
Women’s knowledge and wisdom is disregarded in his depiction of Eve in Paradise Lost. His fair large front and eye sublime declared Absolute rule’ and hyacinthine looks round from his parted forelock manly hung clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad: She as a veil down to the slender waist her unadorned golden tresses wore dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved. ” (4. 300-306) In this passage it describes the two in their stereotypical forms: Adam as being very masculine and strong, and Eve: and being very beautiful. Eve is once again described by her looks, but this time not in comparison to Adam’s knowledge.
Eve is only ever displayed in the epic for being attractive and fair, even though she is clearly able to think for herself, which is seen when she decides to eat the fruit. She is depicted as just being beautiful and having to rely solely on Adam to have and thoughts or make any decisions, which in contradictory to the fact that Eve is the one who first made the decision to betray God. Eve did not have to rely on Adam and his “wisdom” to make that decision. Though, it was not necessarily the right decision to make it shows that Eve was not merely all looks and beauty, but had a mind capable of thoughts, wisdom, and contemplation.
But, Milton only shows her important based on her attractiveness. In Paradise Lost Eve is also depicted as being particularly similar to Satan. Eve is seen as the more sinful one of Adam and Eve and is often compared more to Satan rather than to God. “He for God only, she for God in him. ” (4. 299) In this quote Milton states how Adam is closer to God then Eve. For Adam is created in the image of God and Eve is created from Adam, therefore, according to Milton, Adam is closer to God than Adam.
By basically saying that Adam is closer to God, then Eve must be closer to Satan. Eve does not have a direct relationship with God, like Adam does, she only merely has a direct relationship with Adam. Therefore Adam is more godly than Eve will ever be. “As I bent down to look, just opposite, a shape within the watery gleam appeared bending to look on me, I started back, it started back, but pleased I soon returned, pleased it returned as soon with answering looks of sympathy and love; there I had fixed mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire. Eve shows a narcissistic character trait by becoming captivated by her own reflection. Eve looks at her own reflection until God has to pull her away himself. In this entire epic Satan is constantly being depicted as prideful and narcissistic. This quote shows a parallel between Eve and Satan through narcissism.
“The tree is not as we are told, a tree of danger tasted, nor of evil unknown opening the way, but of divine effect to open eyes, and make them Gods who taste; and hath been tasted such: the serpent wise. “(9. 863-866) In the passage Eve is repeating the words of tan to Adam. Here Eve shows her devout trust in Satan. In fact, Eve is the only one of the two to had been in direct contact with Satan. Eve is shown here as trusting Satan more than she trusts God, even though she does not know it is Satan that she is trusting. Milton is able to make is seem as though Eve has become more loyal to the serpent, Satan, than to God. She even goes as far as to call the serpent “wise”. Milton constantly portrays Eve as being similar and having parallels to Satan, where as Adam is more similar to God.