Paradise Lost

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Eve Character Analysis

The first woman, Eve is created out of Adam’s rib. She is slightly inferior to him and must “submit” to his will. As soon as she is created Eve shows a fascination with her own beauty, gazing at her reflection. Eve is the first to be tempted by Satan and the first to eat the fruit that causes the Fall.

Eve Quotes in Paradise Lost

The Paradise Lost quotes below are all either spoken by Eve or refer to Eve. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Paradise Lost published in 2003.
Book 4 Quotes

Straight side by side were laid, nor turned I ween
Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites
Mysterious of connubial love refused:
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
Of purity and place and innocence,
Defaming as impure what God declares
Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.
Our Maker bids increase, who bids abstain
But our destroyer, foe to God and man?
Hail wedded love, mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety,
In Paradise of all things common else.

Related Characters: God the Father, Adam, Eve
Page Number: 4.741-752
Explanation and Analysis:

In this fascinating passage, Milton defends his interpretation of the Bible. There's a longstanding debate among Christian scholars--did Adam and Eve have sex before their fall from Paradise? Milton declares that they did--in fact, he argues that there's nothing inherently sinful with sex at all, as long as it's practiced in the context of marriage, and done with God's approval. God created human beings to have sex (as expressed in his command to "be fruitful"), though in the Garden of Eden, sex was an entirely different experience for Adam and Eve. Sex wasn't a product of sinful lust at all--rather, Adam and Eve had sex because of their love for each other, for God, and, perhaps, simply because it was pleasurable and innocent.

By praising sex and placing it in Eden, Milton is taking a stand against the Puritanical Christians of his time, who saw all sexuality as inherently sinful and shameful.

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Book 9 Quotes

Queen of this universe, do not believe
Those rigid threats of death; ye shall not die:
How should ye? by the fruit? it gives you life
To knowledge. By the Threat’ner? look on me,
Me who have touched and tasted, yet both live,
And life more perfect have attained than Fate
Meant me, by vent’ring higher than my lot.
Shall that be shut to man, which to the beast
Is open? or will God incense his ire
For such a petty trespass, and not praise
Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain
Of death denounced, whatever thing death be…

Related Characters: Satan (speaker), God the Father, Eve
Related Symbols: The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge
Page Number: 9.684-695
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Satan, disguised as a snake, tries to tempt Eve into eating from the Tree of Knowledge. The snake uses a series of arguments. It claims that it can talk because it ate of the Tree of Knowledge, and the fruit made it wise. The snake also suggests that eating from the tree will elevate Eve's status in life, making her more divine and majestic. Finally, the snake insists that the Tree will not, as God had claimed, make Eve die--the snake has eaten from the tree, and it's clearly not dead. In fact, the snake says that God will praise Eve for eating the fruit, rather than punish her, because eating the fruit shows that she is brave enough to risk death, "whatever thing death be."

One thing to notice about the snake's arguments is that they suggest two opposing sets of morals. One set of morals favors bravery, heroism, striving, and daring uncertainty--one could call this a romantic or chivalric set of values. The other set of values (which the snake criticizes) favors obedience, loyalty, and trust in one's station in life. In the end, the first set of values is just more fun: Eve, who's been shown to be ambitious and curious, wants above her allotted station in life, and this is the sin for which she's ultimately punished.

What fear I then, rather what know to fear
Under this ignorance of good and evil,
Of God or death, of law or penalty?
Here grows the cure of all, this fruit divine,
Fair to the eye, inviting to the taste,
Of virtue to make wise: what hinders then
To reach, and feed at once both body and mind?
So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she ate:
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat
Sighing through all her works gave signs of woe,
That all was lost.

Related Characters: Eve (speaker), God the Father
Related Symbols: The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge
Page Number: 9.773-784
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Eve finally gives in to the snake's arguments and eats from the Tree of Knowledge. She's persuaded by the snake's points, but mostly because she's a naturally ambitious, inquisitive person. Eve decides that the Tree doesn't really kill people at all--it just makes them wise and intelligent. Like the proverbial child, Eve is interested in eating from the Tree of Knowledge precisely because it is forbidden to her. As a result, she eats, and mankind falls from grace. Even the earth itself "felt the wound" of this small, symbolic action.

Eve's decision to eat from the Tree parallels the Biblical description of the fall of man, though with much more detail thrown in. As in the Bible, Milton writes that the woman ate from the Tree first-- a detail that was often used to justify the lowered position of women in Western society.

However I with thee have fixed my lot,
Certain to undergo like doom; if death
Consort with thee, death is to me as life;
So forcible within my heart I feel
The bond of nature draw me to my own,
My own in thee, for what thou art is mine;
Our state cannot be severed, we are one,
One flesh; to lose thee were to lose myself.

Related Characters: Adam (speaker), Eve
Related Symbols: The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge
Page Number: 9.952-959
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Adam discovers that Eve has sinned by eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Adam is still a loyal servant of God, but he also loves Eve, his wife. Therefore, Adam makes a horrible choice; knowing full-well that the fruit of the Tree will destroy him, he eats it. Adam loves Eve so completely that he's blinded to his duty to God.

In the passage, Milton criticizes the chivalric tradition of England. Adam loves his wife so completely that he's willing to disobey God for her sake. Such behavior could be interpreted as romantic and incredibly noble. But Milton sees it as sinful: Adam errs in choosing to love a mortal being more than he loves God. Nevertheless, Milton describes Adam's act of sin as more heroic and perhaps admirable than Eve's: as a result, Adam is punished less harshly than Eve when God discovers his creations' sin.

O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give ear
To that false worm, of whomsoever taught
To counterfeit man’s voice, true in our Fall,
False in promised rising; since our eyes
Opened we find indeed, and find we know
Both good and evil, good lost, and evil got,
Bad fruit of knowledge, if this be to know…

Related Characters: Adam (speaker), Satan, Eve
Related Symbols: The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge
Page Number: 9.1067-1073
Explanation and Analysis:

After Adam and Eve have both eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, they at first feel excited and pleased with themselves, and they have lustful sex for the first time. But afterwards, they come to realize that the fruit of the Tree has condemned them to a life of misery: they're aware of sin and evil now, and they're ashamed to be alive. A sure sign of their sinful nature is that they immediately begin to argue amongst themselves. Here, for instance, Adam claims that Eve has destroyed him by tempting him to eat from the Tree--he blames Eve for listening to the snake.

It's ironic that Adam and Eve have begun arguing so forcefully, since only a few hours before, Adam had claimed that he and Eve were "one." Milton shows how feeble and nonsensical such declarations of love really are: Adam and Eve are not, in fact, "one" at all anymore--their sin, instead of romantically bringing them together, has only torn them apart.

Book 12 Quotes

They looking back, all th’ eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand, the gate
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They hand in hand with wand’ring steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.

Related Characters: Adam, Eve
Page Number: 12.641-649
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the poem, Adam and Eve prepare to leave terrestrial paradise forever. They cry, but only a little bit: their interactions with Michael have inspired them to be strong and look forward to the future. Adam and Eve have been told that one day, a Messiah will redeem mankind from their sins, allowing all human beings to enter Heaven.

The poem is tragic, yet it also ends on a note of cautious optimism. Adam and Eve know that their lives will be long and hard, but also full of fulfillment and discovery. They can no longer walk with God and dine with angels, but "Providence" is still "their guide"--they haven't been totally cast away from God like Satan and his devils. And though they've argued with each other since losing their innocence, husband and wife continue to love and respect each other--thus, they hold each other's hands as they leave Paradise. In short, Milton leaves Adam and Eve to live in a world of sin, confident that one day, sin will be redeemed with the grace of God.

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Eve Character Timeline in Paradise Lost

The timeline below shows where the character Eve appears in Paradise Lost. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1
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...of disobedience, punning on the fruit of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, which Adam and Eve will eat against God’s commandment. This single act will bring death and suffering into the... (full context)
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After this prologue, Milton asks the Muse to describe what first led to Adam and Eve’s disobedience. He answers himself that they were deceived into “foul revolt” by the “infernal Serpent,”... (full context)
Book 3
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...on his throne with his Son at his right hand. Together they watch Adam and Eve in the “happy garden” of Eden, and they see Satan flying across the gulf between... (full context)
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God says that Adam and Eve will listen to Satan’s “glozing lies” and disobey God, leading to their “fall.” Though God... (full context)
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God declares that he will be merciful in his punishment of mankind, as Adam and Eve will be led into disobedience by Satan instead of on their own. For Satan and... (full context)
Book 4
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Milton begins by again lamenting the Fall of Man, and wishing that Adam and Eve had escaped Satan’s “mortal snare.” Meanwhile Satan lands on a mountain near Eden and looks... (full context)
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As Satan approaches, the man, whose name is Adam, speaks to the woman, Eve. Adam says that they should praise God for their bounty and happiness, and not complain... (full context)
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Eve agrees with Adam, and praises him as her superior. She then describes her first memories... (full context)
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The voice then told Eve to leave her reflection, and she obeyed. She found Adam under a “platan” tree, and... (full context)
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Eve finishes her speech and she and Adam embrace and kiss. Satan looks away in envy... (full context)
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Evening comes to Eden and Adam and Eve retire to their leafy bower, as they must... (full context)
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Milton immediately defends this scene by declaring that Adam and Eve could have sex without sin, as the Fall had not corrupted their natures with lust... (full context)
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Night falls and Adam and Eve fall asleep, and Milton both blesses and laments their happy state, which will not last... (full context)
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...and confronts him, asking why he left Hell and entered Eden, and is now disturbing Eve’s dreams. Satan first feigns innocence, claiming merely that he tried to lessen his pain by... (full context)
Book 5
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The next morning Adam awakes from a restful sleep, but Eve seems disturbed and restless. She tells Adam that she has had troubling dreams, as it... (full context)
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In the dream the angel told Eve that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge would make her even happier, as she... (full context)
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...by this dream, and wonders where evil would come from in Eden, but he reassures Eve that she is still blameless for sinning in a dream, and that the dream does... (full context)
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...and tells him that Satan has entered Paradise and is trying to corrupt Adam and Eve. God does not want to be blamed for leaving Adam and Eve ignorant about Satan... (full context)
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...wings. He then passes through the garden and Adam sees his approaching light. Adam tells Eve to set out all their best food and prepare for an honored guest. Eve prepares... (full context)
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Raphael accepts, and the two enter the bower where Eve waits, naked and more beautiful than any of the ancient Greek goddesses, but still virtuous... (full context)
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...and so are the highest life forms on Earth. Raphael then warns that Adam and Eve must always use their spirit and reason to be obedient to God. (full context)
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...asks why any being would choose to be disobedient to God, and Raphael tells Adam (Eve has possibly left the scene) that his happy state is not permanent, but depends on... (full context)
Book 8
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...smaller Earth (if they indeed rotate around the Earth as they seem to). At this Eve decides to leave the conversation and tend to her flowers. She doesn’t leave because she... (full context)
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...matter to Adam, who is not meant to know everything about God’s creation. Adam and Eve should “Dream not of other worlds” but leave heavenly matters to God. Raphael finishes with... (full context)
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...While he slept God removed one of Adam’s ribs, healed the wound, and then created Eve from the rib. Adam’s mind remained aware of what was happening even as he slept,... (full context)
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Adam was immediately intrigued by Eve’s beauty and how different she seemed to him, and he instantly fell in love with... (full context)
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In describing this conjugal bliss, Adam fears that he is too strongly attracted to Eve’s physical beauty. He knows that she is his inferior in mind and soul, but when... (full context)
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Adam is “half abashed” at this warning, but he continues praising Eve and their marital harmony, and he assures Raphael that his physical attraction to Eve comes... (full context)
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...sun is setting, and as he leaves he again warns Adam to love God before Eve, and for both of them to remain obedient to God and avoid temptation. Adam thanks... (full context)
Book 9
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...beings, but must now turn to the inevitable tragedy of his tale – Adam and Eve’s disobedience and the Fall of Man. Though his story is sad, Milton declares that it... (full context)
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...he laments how he cannot take any joy in this wondrous new creation. Adam and Eve’s happiness only causes him greater anguish. (full context)
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The next morning Adam and Eve wake up and give their usual spontaneous praise to God. Then Eve proposes that she... (full context)
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Eve responds that she “overheard” Raphael’s warning about Satan, but she wishes to prove herself should... (full context)
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Eve is slightly put out by this, and argues that if they defend themselves against Satan... (full context)
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Eve replies that the proud Satan will surely seek out Adam first, so she is in... (full context)
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...pair, hoping but not expecting to find them separated. He is then delighted to see Eve by herself, tending to her flowers. Satan is momentarily stunned by her beauty and innocence,... (full context)
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When Eve notices him Satan speaks to her, praising her beauty and grace and calling her a... (full context)
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Eve is amazed at this, and though she says the snake is “overpraising” her, she asks... (full context)
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...the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge has revealed to him that God actually wants Eve to disobey him, as this will prove her independence and “dauntless virtue” in braving death.... (full context)
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Satan further says that God has forbidden the fruit so as to keep Adam and Eve “low and ignorant” instead of assuming their proper places as gods. If he, a serpent,... (full context)
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Eve looks at the fruit, which seems especially perfect and delicious to her, and she thinks... (full context)
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Satan immediately slinks back into the undergrowth. Eve is overcome by the delicious fruit and she gluttonously eats many pieces of it, not... (full context)
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Eve bows to the Tree of Knowledge and then goes to find Adam, who has been... (full context)
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...the faded roses shed,” and he stands there speechless and pale. He is horrified that Eve has succumbed to temptation, and he realizes that all is lost, but then Adam immediately... (full context)
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...drops of rain, but Adam feels immediately invigorated and more godlike. He then looks at Eve and is filled with lust, and he praises her for choosing this “delightful fruit.” Then... (full context)
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Adam regrets aloud that Eve ate the forbidden fruit, as he sees now that instead of gaining divine knowledge of... (full context)
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Adam and Eve sit down and start to weep, and then the emotions of sin come to them... (full context)
Book 10
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Back in Heaven, God immediately knows when Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit. The angelic guards of Eden also know, and they fly up... (full context)
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The Son calls again and then Adam and Eve emerge looking guilty, angry, and ashamed. Adam says he hid because he was embarrassed of... (full context)
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The Son then asks Eve to explain herself, and Eve says that the serpent tricked her into eating the fruit.... (full context)
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God punishes Eve by condemning all women to suffer in childbirth and to submit to their husbands. He... (full context)
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Eve approaches and tries to comfort Adam, but he grows angry with her and calls her... (full context)
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Adam is moved by Eve’s distress and loses his anger. He says that if she cannot even bear this small... (full context)
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Adam warns Eve about the dangers of despairing, and that God will not allow her to escape punishment... (full context)
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...return to the place where they were punished and ask God for forgiveness and grace. Eve agrees, and the two fall on their knees, weeping and confessing their sins. (full context)
Book 11
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God hears Adam and Eve’s prayers, which were themselves inspired by his grace. The Son intercedes on the pair’s behalf... (full context)
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God commands Michael to be firm with Adam and Eve, but also kind, and to show Adam a vision of what will occur in humanity’s... (full context)
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Adam and Eve finish their prayers, and Adam anticipates that God will hear them and be merciful. Again... (full context)
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...chasing two brightly-colored birds, and then he sees Michael descending in the west. He warns Eve to expect new laws or decrees, but that she should “retire” as the approaching angel... (full context)
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...will be allowed to live many years before Death takes him, but that he and Eve must leave Paradise immediately. Adam is upset, and Eve overhears this and laments the loss... (full context)
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Michael then puts Eve into an enchanted sleep and leads Adam up to a high hill to show him... (full context)
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...and Michael explains that the two men are brothers, Cain and Abel, the first sons Eve will give birth to. Adam is shocked by his first sight of death, and Michael... (full context)
Book 12
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Michael and Adam descend from the hilltop and Michael sends Adam to awaken Eve, as she has also had informative, comforting dreams about the Messiah. Adam finds Eve already... (full context)