Paradise Lost

by: John Milton

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 3

. . . though both
Not equal, as thir sex not equal seem’d;
For contemplation hee and valor form’d,
For softness shee and sweet attractive Grace,
Hee for God only, shee for God in him:
His fair large Front and Eye sublime declar’d
Absolute rule; and Hyacinthine Locks
Round from his parted forelock manly hung
Clust’ring, but not beneath his shoulders broad:
Shee as a veil down to the slender waist
Her unadorned golden tresses wore
Dishevell’d, but in wanton ringlets wav’d
As the Vine curls her tendrils, which impli’d
Subjection, but requir’d with gentle sway,
And by her yielded, by him best receiv’d,
Yielded with coy submission, modest pride,
And sweet reluctant amorous delay.
         (IV.295311)

The narrator makes these observations in Book IV as Adam and Eve prepare for bed. The narrator compares Adam and Eve based on their appearance and general demeanor, reasoning from that in order to assess their spiritual value. The argument behind the description lies in their different roles: since Adam was created for God, and Eve was created for both God and Adam, Eve’s purpose makes her less spiritually pure and farther removed from God’s grace. She serves both God and Adam and submits to Adam out of love and duty to God. He notes that Adam seems to be more intelligent and spiritually pure than Eve.

This assessment illustrates Milton’s belief that male and female genders and their roles are unequal. The Bible also speaks of these unequal roles, arguing that a wife should submit and serve her husband. These beliefs were common in Milton’s time, as many people believed they were sanctioned by the Bible. This apparent gender imbalance between Adam and Eve is continually portrayed throughout the rest of Paradise Lost.