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Eve’s Speech to the Forbidden Tree in Milton’s Paradise Lost

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Eve’s Speech to the Forbidden Tree in Milton’s Paradise Lost


In Book IX of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Eve makes a very important and revealing speech to the tree of knowledge. In it, she demonstrates the effect that the forbidden fruit has had on her. Eve’s language becomes as shameful as the nakedness that Adam and Eve would later try to cover up with fig leaves. After eating the forbidden apple, Eve’s speech is riddled with blasphemy, self-exaltation, and egocentrism.

The first part of Eve’s speech contains the most blatant blasphemy. In it, she turns the forbidden tree into an idol, or a false god. She promises that “henceforth [her] early care, / Not without song each morning, and due praise / Shall tend [the tree]” (ln 799-801). The long sounds of the spondees in “not without song each morning, and due praise” add to the deliberateness of Eve’s blasphemy. The tree replaces God in her eyes, and begins to receive the praise that she had formerly reserved only for God. Besides being blasphemous, this is also ironic. In her foolishness, Eve ends up praising the very thing that will ultimately prove to be her undoing.

Eve considers the tree a great gift. However, because of the influence of the serpent, she does not consider it a gift from God. The serpent has caused her to believe that God did not give the tree to Adam and Eve because it was not his to give. Therefore, Eve supposes that God must “envy what [he] cannot give: / For had the gift been [his], it had not here / Thus grown” (ln 805-7). In other words, she argues that if God had had possession of this tree, he would not have left it where it is. Therefore, according to Eve’s manipulated reasoning, God must not have the knowledge that the tree bestow...


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...d “Adam” in line 831.

The last two lines of this speech are very dramatic. Eve has such a great love for Adam that she could endure anything as long as he would be by her side, but she would be nothing without him. However, this creates a paradox. One may ask, if Eve loves Adam as much as she professes to, then why put his life in jeopardy just to make her own suffering more bearable? The answer, of course, goes back to the selfishness that has pervaded her entire speech. These lines stand out because of the spondees at the end of both of them.

Eve’s language is drastically altered when she partakes of the forbidden fruit. It becomes permeated with blasphemy, self-praise and selfish words.

Works Cited:

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. in The Norton Anthology of English
Literature, M. H. Abrams, ed. New York: W. W. Norton and Company,
1993. 1594-5.


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