**The following is my interpretation of a small portion of Paradise Lost Book 4**
In the excerpt I have taken, we see Adam talking to Eve about the garden. He is specifically emphasizing the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, informing Eve that they are not to eat from that tree since it would mean death to do so.
I wonder what it means to die upon eating the fruit of that tree of knowledge. It could have been the physical death- where they would either kill themselves out of guilt, or maybe God would kill them for having disobeyed them. Perhaps, they would choke on the fruit and die.
Or maybe it was a more metaphorical death. The death of one personality, and the awakening of something far greater.
What if we see it this way, Adam and Eve are plantation workers of Paradise Foods, run by ‘God’, who had spoken to Adam, and told him:
This one, this easy charge, of all the trees
In Paradise that bear delicious fruit
So various, not to taste that only Tree
Of Knowledge, planted by the Tree of Life,
He is telling Adam, though they will have control over all the trees they must not eat the fruit of this one particular tree. He does not specifically mention any consequences except ‘death.’ We can give this ambiguity of language the benefit of the doubt, and explore further.
So near grows death to life, whate’er death is,
Some dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou know’st
God hath pronounced it death to taste that Tree,
He is now simply parroting what God told him to Eve. He does not know the graveness of this punishment, he does not know what it means, and he has simply assumed from the tone in which God spoke that this is a grave mistake. We can see that God has successfully managed to instill in Adam the emotion of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of disobedience. Adam then goes on to say:
The only sign of our obedience left
Among so many signs of power and rule
Conferred upon us, and dominion giv’n
Over all other creatures that possess
Earth, air, and sea.
He has blindly believed what God had said to him. He pledges allegiance to God as shown by his urge to display obedience. He is grateful to God for having given them- the poor workers- a whole garden, without realizing that the purpose of this Garden was to fulfill their needs. It was made for them. They are the people working on it, cultivating it to bear fruit with aid of nature.
So by eating this fruit that will provide them with knowledge and the ability to reason, it could mean the death of a silent surrendering laborer, and the birth of an educated revolutionist. This could have been then, what ‘God’ the capitalist bourgeois was trying to avoid.
We know that knowledge is true God. Therefore, Eve worshipping the tree of Knowledge, was Eve worshipping God. A true well-wishing God would want her people to liberate themselves physically, the only way that may be possible is if they would first liberate themselves mentally, which in this case would be by attaining knowledge through the forbidden fruit.