Best image of myself and dearer half, The trouble of thy thoughts this night in sleep Affects me equally; nor can I like This uncouth dream, of evil sprung I fear; Yet evil whence? In thee can harbor none, Created pure. (V, 95–100)
When Eve tells Adam of her troubling dream, he feels bothered just as much as Eve. Adam expresses his fear that her dream was “sprung” from evil, yet he knows Eve to be created pure, just like him, so he understands the evil could not have originated in her. Adam’s lines reveal his faith in Eve and her purity.
…But know, that in the soul Are many lesser faculties, that serve Reason as chief; among these Fancy next Her office holds; of all external things, Which the five watchful senses represent, She forms imaginations, air shapes, Which Reason, joining or disjoining, frames[.] (V, 100–106)
Adam reassures Eve when she confides her troubling dream to him. He argues that although they both have “lesser faculties” such as imagination, the chief faculty of reason exercises control of them. Adam puts his trust in Eve’s faculty of reason, an error which ends up contributing to their fall.
But say, What meant the caution join’d, If ye be found Obedient? can we want obedience then To him, or possibly his love desert, Who form’d us from the dust, and plac’d us here, Full to the utmost measure of what bliss Human desires can seek or apprehend? (V, 512–518)
God sends the Archangel Raphael to talk with Adam to warn him about the danger of disobeying God, so Adam can be fully warned before Satan arrives. In response to the warning, Adam wonders how any being God created would choose to be disobedient. Showing trust in God’s benevolent design, he credits God with forming man’s needs and desires and perfectly fulfilling them. Adam’s rationalization and questions for Raphael reveal his great capacity for reason.
Of enemy hath beguil’d thee, yet unknown, And me with thee hath ruin’d, for with thee Certain my resolution is to die. How can I live without thee, how forego Thy sweet converse, and love so dearly join’d, To live again in these wild woods forlorn? (IX, 905–910)
In the climax of
Nor can I think that God, Creator wise, Though threat’ning, will in earnest so destroy Us his prime creatures, dignified so high, Set over his works, which in our fall, For use created, needs with us must fail, Dependent made; so God shall uncreate, Be frustrate, do, undo, and labour lose, Not well conceiv’d of God, who, though his power Creation could repeat, yet would be loath Us to abolish, lest the adversary Triumph, and say, Fickle their state whom God Most favours[.] (IX, 938–949)
As Adam contemplates eating from the forbidden tree, he considers how bad the consequences might be. As he descends towards his ill-fated decision, he reasons that God wouldn’t create and then destroy his perfect creatures. In doing so, Adam forgets Raphael’s statement that God created man as perfect but mutable. Standing before Eve, Adam’s emotions for her overcome his ability to reason.
This woman, whom thou mad’st to be my help And gav’st me as thy perfect gift, so good, So fit, so acceptable, so divine, That from her hand I could suspect no ill, And what she did, whatever in itself, Her doing seem’d to justify the deed; She gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (X, 137–144)
Standing before the Son, Adam and Eve must explain their actions. Here, Adam defends himself by partly blaming Eve for his transgression. Adam says that because Eve ate from the tree, and because he believed in her innocence, he also ate from the tree. Adam essentially shirks responsibility for his actions and puts the blame on Eve, despite his decision to choose Eve over God.
But come, so well refresh’d, now let us play, As meet is after such delicious fare: For never did thy beauty, since the day I saw thee first, and wedded thee, adorn’d With all perfections, so inflame my sense With ardour to enjoy thee, fairer now Than ever, bounty of this virtuous tree. (IX, 1027–1033)
After Adam and Eve both eat from the tree, Adam’s view of Eve changes. Where he once looked upon her with purity, he now looks upon her with desire. Eating from the tree of knowledge instills in Adam a more lustful, ravenous view of Eve and for the first time, they share carnal sexuality. Adam even calls the tree virtuous, in his new, altered state.
How shall I behold the face Henceforth of God or angel, erst with joy And rapture so oft beheld? Those heavenly shapes Will dazzle now this earthly, with their blaze Insufferably bright[.] (IX, 1080–1084)
In his now fallen state, Adam considers the consequences. In a passage that recalls Satan’s experience seeing Paradise for the first time, Adam laments how being in the presence of God’s purity will now be painful. The experience will serve to remind him of his former state, for which he’ll feel nothing but torment. Readers note that man’s fallen state equates to being painfully aware of what one has lost.
Thus is shall befall Him who to worth in woman over-trusting Lets her will rule; restraint she will not brook, And left to herself, if evil thence ensue, She first his weak indulgence will accuse. (IX, 1182–1186)
After the fall, Adam and Eve begin blaming each other for their sins. Angered when Eve says Adam should have known better than to leave her by herself and vulnerable to attack, Adam shoots back that women should not be trusted. As the Son proclaims, Adam and Eve’s fall results in the enmity that develops between them. Adam loses perfect reason, and he now engages in emotionally driven battles with Eve.
Be it so, for I submit: his doom is fair, That dust I am, and shall to dust return (X, 769–770)
As they grow to understand the dire reality of their situation, Eve, in a moment of distress, suggests to Adam that they commit suicide. Adam, moved by Eve’s emotional state, becomes calm and consoles Eve, saying they need to accept their state. He sees the fairness of having come from nothing and returning to nothing. Even though he feels angry with Eve, Adam remains Eve’s partner. In this renewed sense of partnership, Adam and Eve once again achieve a perfected union.