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'Paradise Lost' - "Our Flesh is An Eve Within Us"[1]- The Presentation of Eve and her role in the Fall.

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  • Essay length: 3531 words
  • Submitted: 22/12/2003
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University Degree Milton

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'Paradise Lost'

"Our Flesh is An Eve Within Us"1

- The Presentation of Eve and her role in the Fall

Paradise Lost begins and ends with Man, but this is not Man as we know him in daily life, nor indeed as he is usually depicted in literature, but a perfect, pre-lapsarian Man. The primary concern of this epic poem appears to be "man's first disobedience"2 and the results of that action. However, although Milton uses the word "man", it is universally understood that it was not a man, but a woman who disobeyed God and brought about the downfall of the human race. This woman is Eve.

Diane Kelsey McColley in her book Milton's Eve asserts that the "story of our first parents shows woman as flesh, passions, nature, and sexuality seducing man as soul, reason, spiritual virtue and contemplation from his proper relation to God".3 The portrayal of Eve as primordial temptress is a long-standing one and can be found not only discursively in literary history but also pictorially in art history, and these traditions are perhaps accountable for the reductive opinion of Eve today.

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