Date of Award

12-23-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

English (M.A.)

Department

English

First Advisor

Kathleen Blumreich

Second Advisor

Benjamin Lockerd

Third Advisor

Jo Miller

Abstract

This thesis explores the idea that the Fall in Paradise Lost by John Milton is not a sudden event, but rather Adam and Eve's adherence to temptations that begin long before, specifically in Eve's vision and Adam's thoughts on Eve. This project begins by challenging the ways in which readers of the poem often overlook Eve as they focus solely on Satan or Adam. By looking at Eve's depiction as truly Adam's equal in the poem, this thesis then moves to the idea that temptations are an individual experience that begins first in the mind. Often, readers and scholars explore the actions of the poem, but neglect the inner workings of Adam and Eve. By looking at the thoughts and ideas of Eve and then Adam, we begin to see that the poem presents these two perfect individuals as beset by inner temptations that make them more susceptible to fall if they do not adhere to obedience to God. Eve's vision shows how her thoughts on equality, and the ways in which Adam neglects this equal relationship, lead to her desire for power and total knowledge as offered to her in her vision. Secondly, Adam's first dream and his viewing of Eve's creation shows his vulnerability to the Fall as he chooses to follow Eve above all else. When we come to Book IX, Eve chooses to recreate her vision, this time partaking of the fruit, and Adam chooses to follow Eve in his unfailing devotion to her, and thus they both adhere to their own temptations that were presented early on in the poem. Thus, the Fall is not a sudden event, but rather a result of Adam and Eve's thoughts and mindsets that make them more susceptible to Fall. As a result, we should revisit Adam and Eve to see the ways in which we have been reading these characters incorrectly. By viewing them as equals that struggle mentally with temptations, we see not only their humanity, but also how Milton presents Christian heroism as obedience to God before all beliefs, mindsets, and temptations.

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