Paradise Lost Book 9- An ode to Aemelia Lanyer

**The following is my interpretation of a small portion from Paradise Lost Book 9 **

In this portion of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, we see Eve justifying her decision of choosing to eat the forbidden fruit.

What fear I then, rather what know to fear

Under this ignorance of good and evil,

Of God or death, of law or penalty?

Through these lines we see her questioning whether she needs to stay ignorant after all. She begins to question why she cannot acquire the knowledge of the world, of the many things that dictate life. She is aware that she is currently sleeping, unaware and ignorant. She is making here a conscious choice to educate herself.

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?

She realizes that the anecdote to her ignorance lies in this particular fruit. The fruit looks good, and she believes that it will do well to eat it too. Therefore she decides that she shall eat this fruit and feed her body and mind together.

What we see here, is simply a woman trying to become a thinking individual and amount to something.

In order to do this, she needs to break some rules. Simply because, to follow these rules would mean to willingly remain subordinate to a man who claims to know it all, but as we later see, probably doesn’t. 

She is actually staying true to her origin- i.e. the first woman, the original ‘mother’- Lillith. Though only meant to be known as Adam’s first wife and the mother of his children, she refused to allow that to be her only description. She wished to explore the arts and engage in critical thinking- something that ‘God’ did not appreciate. Hence, she was removed.

What I often wonder is, The Bible boasts of God being the source of all wisdom, all knowledge. So in essence, when Eve chose to eat the fruit, was she not seeking to go closer to God? Why is there a separation between God and knowledge- are they not really the same thing? God had maintained trees and fruits for the purpose of bettering a human’s life- so if he did not actually want them to consume it, why did he leave it in the human vicinity as a delicious looking fruit upon a tree? Keep in mind that this is a God who is all knowing, who never makes an error.

If the motive was to test their resistance to temptations- how can you know what is temptation and what is not, without having the knowledge of what is good and evil, i.e. without eating that fruit? By condemning this fruit eating, we are actually giving in to the true devil- ignorance.

The last part of this excerpt, is just a Hindi serial type of over dramatization that occurs to emphasize something ‘wrong.’

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.

From my perspective, all was gained at this point. To gain knowledge is to gain everything. It is freedom. Was the Garden of Eden really that amazing, or did Adam and Eve not know any better?

Maybe ‘God’ the capitalist was upset that he was now losing the free labor Adam and Eve were providing while living in the garden. ‘God’ was exploiting them, and now they had the knowledge to realize that they could aspire to be much, much more.

Image credits: Google Images

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