Paradise Lost

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The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge Symbol Analysis

The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge Symbol Icon
One of the most famous symbols in history, the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is the only fruit that God forbids Adam and Eve to eat of all the trees in Eden. The fruit is delicious-looking and aromatic, but Adam and Eve have no trouble resisting it until Satan tricks Eve into eating the fruit, as she hopes to gain knowledge and value. In itself the fruit gives knowledge of good and evil, which Adam and Eve lack in their innocent ignorance, but the importance of the fruit is that they eat it despite God’s commandment. The knowledge the Tree gives is not inherently sinful, but disobeying God by eating of the Tree is sinful. The fruit that Eve and Adam eat then becomes the ultimate symbol – a single small thing that represents the cause of all the evil and suffering in the world.
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The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge Symbol Timeline in Paradise Lost

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge appears in Paradise Lost. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Free Will and Predestination Theme Icon
...and its sorrowful consequences. In the first line Milton refers to the consequences as the “fruit” of disobedience, punning on the fruit of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, which Adam and... (full context)
Book 4
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Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...the Earth, and has only forbidden one thing: they are not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, as it will cause their death. Adam does not know... (full context)
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...such joy while he is condemned to Hell. He notes God’s commandment against eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and decides that this is his opportunity to corrupt Adam... (full context)
Book 5
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...Knowledge. There she saw a creature who looked like an angel, and he took a fruit from the Tree and ate it. The angel then praised the taste of the fruit... (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 would be like... (full context)
Book 7
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...breathing life into him. They then created a woman, and commanded the pair to “Be fruitful… and fill the earth.” God gave all creation for these humans to govern, except he... (full context)
Book 8
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...plants and animals. God only forbade one thing: Adam was not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, or else he should lose his “happy state” and be... (full context)
Book 9
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...how this came to be. Satan explains that he found a tree with beautiful, delicious apples, and when he ate the fruit he suddenly found himself with the ability to speak... (full context)
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...says the journey was “Fruitless,” as she has been forbidden by God from eating its fruit. Satan asks about this commandment, and Eve reaffirms that she and Adam can eat the... (full context)
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...like “some orator renowned / In Athens or free Rome” and then says that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge has revealed to him that God actually wants Eve to... (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... (full context)
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Eve looks at the fruit, which seems especially perfect and delicious to her, and she thinks about Satan’s persuasive words.... (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 realizing she is “eating death.” She... (full context)
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...a wreath of flowers to give to Eve. Adam meets her and sees the forbidden fruit in her hand, and Eve hurriedly explains that the serpent ate it and learned to... (full context)
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...unfallen woman could replace her. He knows he will be dooming himself by eating the fruit, but reasons that surely God would not destroy them or punish them too harshly. Eve... (full context)
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...at Eve and is filled with lust, and he praises her for choosing this “delightful fruit.” Then he and Eve run off to a “shady bank” and have sex. Afterward they... (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 good and evil, they... (full context)
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...makes Adam angrier, and he calls her ungrateful, reminding her that he ate the forbidden fruit just so they could be together. He curses himself for listening to her and trusting... (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 to Heaven to ask... (full context)
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...because he was embarrassed of his nakedness, and the Son asks if he ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. Adam says that Eve gave him the fruit to eat, and... (full context)
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...Eve to explain herself, and Eve says that the serpent tricked her into eating the fruit. The Son (now referred to as God) immediately condemns the serpent to forever crawl on... (full context)
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...of his triumph, glorifying his own exploits and how he destroyed all humanity “with an apple.” (full context)
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A grove of trees then sprouts up in Hell, filled with fruit like the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, but whenever the hungry, thirsty snakes try... (full context)