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Narcissism In John Milton’s Paradise Lost

789 words - 3 pages

Narcissism in John Milton’s Paradise Lost

When Eve eats the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, her decision to tell Adam of her disobedience turns on two suppositions. If her transgression is kept secret from God, Eve's augmented knowledge might increase Adam's love for her, and perhaps cause her to be more equal or even superior to Adam. Even though Eve was created comparable to Adam as his helper, she refers to Adam as her "Author and Disposer." Furthermore, she says that while God is Adam's law, Adam is her law. Apparently, Eve chafes under this arrangement, as she wraps up her evaluation of not telling Adam of her sin with, "for inferior who is free?" However, her death is assured if God has seen her wrongdoing. In this alternative, God may provide Adam with another woman, rendering Eve extinct. Eve finds unendurable the possibility that Adam will father children with a new Eve. Eve's consideration of either alternative depends on her narcissism and her need to be loved, even worshiped. Milton's Eve, like Narcissus, is infatuated with herself. Created in Adam's image, Eve draws Adam's love, his narcissism projected onto Eve. Inexperienced with women's wiles, uxorious Adam falls.

Having created Adam in his own image, the Lord God commanded Adam not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. After the Lord God created Eve from Adam's rib, Milton's Adam warns Eve that the consequence of eating the tree's forbidden fruit will be the knowledge of death. From the Bible and Milton's text, it is apparent that Eve hears directly only from Adam about the forbidden fruit. It is significant that God sends Raphael to "converse with Adam," to warn him of the fall of Satan and his companions, and to alert Adam to the danger from Satan. God sends Raphael after two angels apprehend Satan whispering into Eve's ear, inducing her to dream that by eating the forbidden fruit she will become a Goddess. When Raphael joins Adam for dinner, Eve serves them naked, affirming her place in God's hierarchy. However, Eve's nakedness arouses no libidinal desires in God's heavenly representative. Eve listens in on their conversation while Raphael relates how Satan and his rebellious angels were defeated, and how God and God's Son created the world. Eve leaves when Adam and Raphael discuss...

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