17th Century Society Based on Eve From Paradise Lost Essay

Pages: 3 (912 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Eve as Society in Milton's Paradise Lost

Literature does not exist in a vacuum; it always necessarily is a product of and a commentary on the times that produced it. John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost is no exception. Though the poet is recounting a story over a millennia-and-a-half old, albeit with his own stylistic and narrative choices, it is most essentially a product of latter 16th century England, the period known as the Restoration, on the cusp of the Enlightenment. In fact, it is primarily through the stylistic and narrative elements of Paradise Lost that the stamp of the Restoration/Enlightenment period can primarily be seen. There is another essential element in Paradise Lost that can be seen as specifically reflective of certain elements of society in seventeenth century England, however: the characters. Specifically, Eve can be seen as a symbolic incarnation of society itself, lost in Paradise and tempted by the increase in knowledge, which necessarily has a corruptive effect. As England approached the Enlightenment, when science began to supplant the Church as the primary arbiter of truth and knowledge, society found itself on shaky ground. In her intrepid attitude, her enjoyment of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and finally in her acknowledgement of the fruit's power, Eve is reflective of society's trajectory, which was already visible to a man like Milton.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Essay on 17th Century Society Based on Eve From Paradise Lost Assignment

The trouble in Paradise begins when Eve convinces Adam to go about the Garden of Eden separately. In doing so, she shows her intrepid nature, and the way she uses this intrepidness to convince Adam is especially important. She demands that he should trust her more given her strong spirit, stating, "His fraud is then thy fear, which plain infers / Thy equal fear that my firm Faith and Love / Can by his fraud be shak'n or seduc't (Paradise Lost, 9 295-7). Eve is essentially saying that Adam's expressed fear of letting Eve wander the Garden of Eden alone when Satan is loose within its borders is really a fear of her own corruptibility. This can be seen as a symbolic interaction between society and the Church, where Eve is society and Adam the Church. In demanding that she is indeed capable of going about the Garden on her own, Milton's Eve is naively ignoring her own frailties, just as society was beginning to rush headlong into an era of scientific enlightenment and increased mercantilism, heralding the dawn of a modern age with greater knowledge, but quite arguably a less happy and far less religious and pious populous.

The symbolic representation of society in Eve, especially as it relates to the Enlightenment period that was beginning at around the time Milton was writing, is nowhere more clear than in the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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