Paradise Lost, Book 8

Adam asks Raphael about the heavens. In the meantime, Eve goes to take care of her garden. Raphael talks about heaven, and even mentions creatures living on other planets, but ends by saying that Adam and Eve should not get too curious about other worlds or how heaven functions. Such questions and curiosity may lead them astray of their function on earth.

Adam then tells Raphael what he remembers about when he was created. (Raphael was guarding hell while Adam was being created so missed the whole thing.) Adam remembers only waking up in a beautiful place and wondering about his own existence. He has a dream and God answers him that it was he, God, that created him. God warns him not to eat from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God tells Adam that all the rest of creation is his to own and name.

Adam tells God that he would like a companion, a mate. Adam notes that all the other animals were given consorts or mates.

God tells him that he, God, is alone and is doing fine. God finally relents, however, and tells Adam that he planned a mate for him all along.

Adam is put to sleep and God takes a rib from his side. From it, God forms a woman, the most beautiful to Adam of all God’s creatures.

Adam and Raphael have a discussion about love: how love must be pure, not a carnal or a passionate love. Carnal love is what the beasts enjoy and God gave Adam a woman, not a beast, so he should practice a higher love.

Analysis:

The creation of Eve foreshadows what will ultimately become the cause of Adam’s fall: following the guidance of his own baser, more animalistic elements that are convinced by Eve’s beauty. Adam tells Raphael of his concern for how he feels about Eve. Although he knows her to be a weaker creature by nature, Adam is sometimes fooled by her beauty in believing that she is “…wisest, virtuousest, discreetist, best.”

Milton, who had three wives himself, is saying some pretty strong things about women in this passage. Basically, he places Adam, the male, not only at the head of the household, but naturally placed there because he is wiser, more virtuous, more discreet and best.

As the theme of Fall is a recurring theme in the work, it is interesting to compare the various reasons for their disobedience: Satan falls because of his pride, Adam because of his love/seduction by Eve, Eve because of her vanity. As well, we have the theme of the trinity repeated in the three fallen species.

Despite Raphael’s and Adam’s rather misogynist conversation, the two hash out some valid points on love. The animalistic love that Raphael alludes to is, in modern terms, an objectification of Eve. Adam, after all, is responding to Eve’s beauty, her shape, her outer physical nature. Raphael says this is for the animals. Man’s love should be a rational love, based on person and respect for the living as opposed to corrupted lust.

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