• Created by: Pip Dan
  • Created on: 20-09-17 16:53

Before the fall, Adam is a perfect a human being. He is physically attractive, mentally adept and spiritually profound. He stands out in Eden as the apex of the hierarchical pyramid. Only Eve can compare to him, and she only in physical beauty.

Listening to Eve

Many early critics of Paradise Lost argued that Adam allowed humanity to fall because he had the flaw of uxoriousness. Whilst it is perhaps difficult to ascribe a flaw to a technically perfect human, it would be perhaps impossible for Milton to write about true perfection as he believed that it could not be achieved in this life as per his Christian view. The term uxoriousnes, which means 'dotingly or irrationally fond of or submissive to one's wife' was applied to Adam early on in criticism of Paradise Lost.

Even though Raphael warns Adam that this attitude toward Eve is improper and that Satan could use it to tempt the humans, Adam eats the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge precisely because he cannot bear to be without Eve. As a near perfect human, Adam is ruled by reason. He immediately understands Eve's sin in eating the apple, but he wilfully ignores his reason and eats because of his love and desire for her. Adam's uxorious attitude toward Eve, which perverts the hierarchy of Earth and Paradise, leads directly to his fall. He also is rejecting the idea that he should love and obey God above any human, Eve, and thus is letting his love for her overpower his love for God.

He also gives in to Eve’s demand to be separated at the moment of greatest danger, thus shirking his responsibility as the head of the family. However, it could be argued at this exact point that he is protecting her freedom as he states 'go; for thy stay, not free'. Nonetheless, his last speech in Book IX warns against 'women overtrusting' and it does seem sensible to argue that Milton saw this the moral of the story. He can fully blame both Adam and Eve for the Fall but stating that Adam's fault was trusting Eve. To a modern or feminist reader this seems incredibly sexist but in Milton's time it was a well-established idea.

Weak characterisation

Some critics like Nicole Smith have argued that Adam is certainly an important character in “Paradise Lost”, but he lacks the kind of significance and weight of the other major characters, Eve, God, and Satan. In fact, Adam seems to lack an identity of his own and does not function well without other more developed and strong characters around to guide him. This does not…


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