G.B. Johnston Award
The Union of Adam & Eve
Jennifer J. Warnasch
C ritics have long argued over the power structure operating in the gender relations of Milton's Paradise Lost. However, to really understand Adam and Eve and the intricacies of their relationship, it is necessary to view them in terms of a union, not as separate people vying for power. Because they are a union of contraries, the power dilemma is a moot point even though a hierarchy exists; it is a hierarchy of knowledge, not of power, and it in no way implies that Adam needs Eve any less than she needs him. Actually, they both need each other equally as much because they each have strengths and weaknesses that are complemented by the other&emdash;this necessarily leads to their interdependency. They are opposites, each with their own limitations (which Milton makes clear particularly through their creation narratives and their pre-fall relationship), who come together to form a very powerful and cohesive union. Everything that Adam and Eve do throughout the story of Paradise Lost, most obviously during and after the Fall, is directed at preserving their union. The balance of their relationship changes after the Fall and allows for the redemption of the union as well as humankind.
Milton shows the opposite natures of Adam and Eve throughout their creation narratives. Adam is created during the day, and his creation emphasizes the heat of the sun:
As new wak't from soundest sleep
Soft on the flourie herb I found me laid
In Balmie Sweat, which with his Beames the Sun
Soon dri'd. (8.253-56)
The sun is both light and heat, and it plays an important role in Adam's creation: "The sun helps creation by drying Adam" (Flannagan 441). Conversely, Eve is created during the coolness of the night. In Adam's telling of Eve's creation, she is created once Adam falls asleep after an exhausting conversation with God: Adam, "Dazl'd and spent, sunk down, and sought repair / Of sleep, which instantly fell on [him]" (8.457-58), which suggests that Eve is created at the end of the day, i.e., at night. In Eve's telling, she wakes the morning following the night of her creation:
That day I oft remember, when from sleep
I first awak't, and found my self repos'd
Under a shade of flours. (4.449-51)
Not only does the darkness of her creation complement the light of Adam's, but the coolness of the shade of flowers also complements the bright sun that dries Adam's sweat. Each of their creations has limitations: Eve's is lacking the heat of the sun and Adam's is lacking the coolness of the night.
The locations of their creations are also set in opposition. Adam is created outside of Paradise and then led into it: God says to Adam, "Call'd by thee I come thy Guide / To the Garden of bliss, thy seat prepar'd" (8.298-99). The only way for God to lead Adam into the Garden is if he were created outside of it. Complementary to Adam's exterior creation is Eve's interior creation. Her creation follows the conversation that God and Adam have in which Adam tries to explain to God why he wants a mate. Since God and Adam are having this discussion inside Paradise, Eve is created within Paradise as well. Seventeenth Century women writers used this to argue that Eve's creation is more favorable than Adam's, but the most important consequence of these locations is the continuing opposition it sets up between Adam and Eve: Eve's creation inside Paradise complements Adam's creation outside of it. These oppositions symbolically show that Adam and Eve are incomplete when separate. Furthermore, Milton seems to imply that together, Adam and Eve contain the whole world, both inside and outside Paradise, because their wedding joins the areas of their births.
Adam and Eve's first reactions after creation are also very clearly complementary. Upon his creation, Adam turns outward and upward: "Strait toward Heav'n my wondring Eyes I turnd, / And gaz'd a while the ample Skie" (8.257-58). Adam directs his first thoughts beyond himself to who made him and how he can praise his Maker. Conversely, Eve looks inward and downward:
As I bent down to look, just opposite,
A Shape within the watry gleam appeerd
Bending to look on me, I started back,
It started back, but pleas'd I soon returnd,
Pleas'd it returnd as soon with answering looks
Of sympathie and love. (4.460-65)
Eve turns inward to herself and downward to the water instead of outside of herself and up to Heaven for guidance. Therefore, Eve needs Adam to balance her inward-directed thoughts with thoughts and guidance from Heaven just as Adam needs Eve to balance his outward-directed thoughts with thoughts of the Garden and his rightful existence on Earth and not in Heaven. This balance that they provide for each other leads to a strong union of two people who need each other to be complete.
The final opposing qualities of their creation narratives are their activities following their births. Adam's first moments are filled with activity as he interacts with the world around him:
By quick instinctive motion up I sprung,
As thitherward endevoring, and upright
Stood on my feet. (8.259-61)
Adam looks around him and watches the activities of the animals, hears the streams, smells the fragrances. He surveys his body and begins speaking and then naming the things he sees. Complementary to his activity is the absolute passivity of Eve and her surroundings at the time of her creation. Everything is very calm; there is very little activity:
Waters issu'd from a Cave and spread
Into a liquid Plain, then stood unmov'd
Pure as th'expanse of Heav'n; I thither went
With unexperienc't thought, and laid me downe
On the green bank, to look into the cleer
Smooth Lake, that to me seemd another Skie. (4.454-59)
The water does not come roaring from a cave, but "issues," a very passive verb: it calmly flows out of the cave and has no control over its own activity. The pool is a "plain" that stands "unmoved," both adjectives imply calmness, lack of action. Finally, the lake is "smooth" and it seems to be another sky; in order for it to reflect the sky accurately, the water must be perfectly calm. Eve's reflective attitude and her desire to connect with the water and the sky contrasts with and complements Adam's more dominant attitude of surveying the land and naming what is his. Once again, Eve will help Adam feel connected to the Garden as well as himself while Adam will remind Eve of the hierarchy that does exist between them and God.
The opposite natures of Adam and Eve fit well together to form a union. It is not surprising then that before Eve's creation, Adam is unbalanced and very alone. He has his strengths and weaknesses but no one to complement them, and he strongly feels his limitations. He asks God,
What happiness, who can enjoy alone,
Or all enjoying, what contentment find?
...Among unequals what societie
Can sort, what harmonie or true delight? (8.364-66, 383-84)
Adam realizes that he is not complete and that the animals around him do not complement his own existence. As Flannagan notes, "Adam still feels the differences between his own high order and that of the animals. For perfect harmony he needs one of his own kind" (447). Understandably, God does not seem to comprehend Adam's lack of self-completion. Adam answers God's lack of understanding by saying, in essence, that God is his own union&emdash;he is complete within himself:
Thou in thy self art perfet, and in thee
Is no deficience found; not so is Man,
But in degree, the cause of his desire
By conversation with his like to help,
Or solace his defects. (8.415-19)
Adam realizes that in order to be happy and more like God, he must have someone who will "compensate for his defect" (Flannagan 449), someone who will make him complete. To further the point, Adam says that man is, "In unitie defective, which requires / Collateral love" (8.425-26). Therefore, man is defective as his own union, or as Flannagan writes, "If man were to remain single he would be defective because incomplete" (449). And so for man to not be defective, he requires "collateral love," which Flannagan describes as "Parallel or coequal love, side by side, between sexes in marriage" (449). When God does finally agree to Adam's wish, he describes Eve as "Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self" (8.450). Milton is clearly showing that Adam and Eve are complete only when together.
Eve, as opposed to Adam, is not at first convinced of her need for him. After her creation, Eve is very focused on herself: "Eve's first act is to move toward the maternally murmuring pool that returns an image of herself in the visible world. Her 'father' is out of sight and out of mind, but the reflecting face of the maternal waters give back an image of her visible self" (Froula 152). This response shows that Eve is very limited in her knowledge; she has discovered herself but has not looked beyond herself. Consequently, when Eve first sees Adam, she thinks his physical beauty is not as great as hers and is therefore not very interested in him:
Till I espi'd thee, fair indeed and tall,
Under a Platan, yet methought less faire,
Less winning soft, less amiable milde,
Then that smooth watry image; back I turnd. (4.477-80)
As Webber points out, "Eve, upon her creation, is less sure of Adam's importance to her, and shows preference for her own image reflected in a pool" (13). Eve's strength (and Adam's weakness) is physical beauty, so when she sees Adam's weakness, it does not offer her much. It is therefore not obvious to Eve that Adam is her complement in many ways. She turns away from him in order to return to her reflection but in so doing, misses the complete union that can be attained only when she looks beyond herself to Adam. He therefore persuades her back when he shows that his existence completes hers&emdash;he has knowledge beyond her own (specifically the fact that he knows her origin). Adam's strength (and Eve's weakness) is knowledge: "She wants to reflect upon herself, to look at herself in a pool and gain self-knowledge, but in order to know herself she is required to turn her attention to Adam" (Webber 11-12). Adam says to her, "Part of my Soul I seek thee, and thee claim / My other half" (4.487-88). To him she then yields, convinced "that she is part of Adam's soul" (Webber 13). Adam says,
I now see
Bone of my Bone, Flesh of my Flesh, my Self
Before me. (8.494-96)
They form a union because when separate, they are limited and incomplete.
Their lives together before that fateful morning are very harmonious and balanced. As McColley notes, "This relationship, it turns out, will not provide equality in the sense of sameness, for Adam and Eve have different talents and their sex is 'not equal' (4.296), but in the sense of mutual completion: not unison but 'harmonie'" (22). Adam lives with his head which is fixed on the abstract sky while Eve lives with her heart which is fixed on the material Earth, and they share their strengths and compensate for one another's weaknesses. They both accept each other's place in their union. Adam says of Eve,
What seemed fair in all the World, seemed now
Mean, or in her summd up, in her containd
And in her looks, which from that time infus'd
Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before,
And into all things from her Aire inspir'd
The spirit of love and amorous delight. (8.472-77)
Eve inspires Adam with love and enhances the beauty of the world while Adam is a constant reminder to Eve of her duties to their union that go beyond her initial loyalty to her own image. Eve says,
My Author and Disposer, what thou bidst
Unargu'd I obey; so God ordains,
God is thy Law, thou mine: to know no more
Is womans happiest knowledge and her praise. (4.635-338)
They are content with their union and their places in that union: "This man and this woman have different gifts, so that Eve has particular pleasure in helping and learning from a husband she admires, and Adam has particular pleasure in attending to the peace and liberty of a wife he cherishes" (McColly 35). However, their statements toward each other both have implications that will lead to their fall. Adam praises Eve so much for her beauty that he begins to look upon her as a god. Similarly, Eve seems to feel that Adam's gift of knowledge is greater than her gift of beauty and her love of the Earth. This over-valuing of the other's gift represents the earliest step toward the Fall because the original terms of their relationship&emdash;respect for the strengths and weaknesses each brings to the union&emdash;have begun to change.
Their union is dynamic because Adam and Eve are two living entities, and the conditions of their union, as a result, change as they change. Adam, the ruling intellectual of the union, begins to lose his head when he is around his wife:
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded, Wisdom in discourse with her
Looses discount'nanc't, and like folly shewes:
Authority and Reason on her waite. (8.551-54)
Authority and reason, which should be Adam's strong points, are suddenly weak in her presence. Instead of leading his wife, as he was instructed to do, Adam is now "an excessively doting husband" (Webber 15), so much so that he is actually losing sight of himself and who he is. This change in his position in the union will be partly to blame for their downfall. Raphael tries to make Adam see what is happening to his relationship with Eve when he says to Adam, "...Of [self esteem] the more thou know'st, /The more she will acknowledge thee her Head" (8.573-74). The more Adam "knows", the more Eve will "acknowledge" him; Adam must assert his knowledge when he is with Eve so that she will not seek knowledge beyond his.
As Adam is losing his intellectual powers around Eve, Eve begins to trust her own intellectual powers over his, but as Froula points out, Eve's knowledge compared to Adam's is "not the thing itself but a watery reflection" (152) just as the sky she first saw was only a watery reflection of the real sky. Her intellectual powers have always been sharp but they were never intended to be her strong point&emdash;intellectual power is Adam's strong point&emdash;and her downfall will occur through faulty logic. The morning she argues for them to separate, she seems to be engaging more in the art of rhetoric than actually listening to what she and Adam are saying. Eve says,
If this be our condition, thus do dwell
In narrow circuit strait'nd by a Foe,
Suttle or violent, we not endu'd
Singles with like defence, wherever met,
How are we happie, still in fear or harm? (9.322-26)
Her first point is that Satan has already restricted their lives and they do not even know if he is really there or not: "Having the spectre of a 'Foe' limits their freedom of movement and their free will" (Flannagan 481). This implies that there is already an undercurrent of uncertainty as to whether or not they can actually defeat a foe when their movement and free will are limited. Her second and more important point is that she feels they should both be able to stand on their own equally well, "with like defence." By her words, Eve realizes that they are both endowed with different defenses and can fully defend themselves only when together. She wishes they were both singly endowed with full defense; therefore, "Eve's argument for parting is full of obvious errors" (McColley 143). As Adam's downfall is his loss of intellectual power around Eve, Eve's is her newly found faulty reasoning which results in her faulty confidence in her power to stand alone: "And what is Faith, Love, Vertue unassaid / Alone, without exterior help sustaind?" (9.335-36). Eve is attempting to deny the fact that she needs Adam: she is not capable of standing "alone, without exterior help," and neither is Adam. They need each other to survive.
Unlike Eve, Adam is not secure in her belief that she is capable of standing alone. Adam knows that the only way they can protect themselves from such an incredible foe ("Suttle he needs must be, who could seduce / Angels" (9.307-08)) is the power of their union when they are together: "His wish and best advantage, us asunder, /Hopeless to circumvent us joynd..." (9.258-59). Separate, they are incomplete and unable to protect themselves; they are unbalanced when alone, just as Adam was before Eve was created. Adam even says that they are each greater in the other's presence:
I from the influence of thy looks receave
Access in every Vertue, in thy sight
More wise, more watchful, stronger, if need were
Of outward strength; while shame, thou looking on,
Shame to be overcome or over-reacht
Would utmost vigor raise, and rais'd unite. (9.309-14)
Not only is Adam stronger in her presence, but he would also be compelled to do well in her presence lest he experience her shame. Eve falls for exactly the reasons Adam is raising about the power of their union; she falls because of the lack of guidance from her "other self:" she attempts to follow her own logic when not in the presence of Adam's.
Satan apparently understands that Adam and Eve are strong together because he hopes to find Eve alone: "He sought them both, but wish'd his hap might find / Eve separate" (0.421-22). Satan knows Eve's area of greatest vulnerability: her intelligence. His entire argument, after all the compliments and flattery, is completely rational:
Look on mee,
Mee who have touch'd and tasted, yet both live,
And life more perfet have attaind then Fate
Meant mee, by ventring higher then my Lot. (9.687-90)
Satan has known that Eve is the last in the knowledge hierarchy since he first saw Adam and Eve interacting in the Garden. He therefore knows that Eve of the two would want to venture higher than her lot through gaining wisdom. With Satan's help, her faulty logic carries her all the way to the tree:
What fear I then, rather what know to feare
Under this ignorance of good and Evil,
Of God or Death, of Law or Penaltie?
...What hinders then
To reach, and feed at once both Bodie and Mind? (9.773-75, 778-79)
Her reasoning is that she does not understand all the circumstances surrounding the prohibition and the consequences of eating the fruit. This is true: she and Adam do not understand death or evil so they do not exactly understand why they cannot eat the fruit. However, her faulty logic occurs in her jump from this statement to "what hinders then" her eating of the fruit. Obviously God's commandment, the biggest hindrance of all, should hinder her from eating the fruit. Furthermore, she knows this commandment well because she repeated it to Satan when he first led her to the tree:
But of this Tree we may not taste nor touch;
God so commanded, and left that Command
Sole Daughter of his voice. " (9.651-53)
Eve falls through her attempt to rise above her lot. From the beginning, her knowledge has been subordinate to Adam's, and she defies this hierarchy when she allows the serpent to replace Adam as her absolute source of knowledge. She attempts to exceed her limitation of knowledge by going over Adam's head.
Once she falls, she realizes her state has changed and therefore her union with Adam is broken. She considers "keep[ing] the odds of Knowledge in [her] power / Without Copartner" (9.820-21), but fears that Adam would have another Eve which is "A death to think" (9.830). Eve is miserable without Adam and realizes she must preserve their union in order to preserve herself: she needs Adam to live. She knows their union can only be preserved if Adam partakes of the fruit as well: "Confirm'd then I resolve, / Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe" (9.830-31). Now that the union is broken, Eve realizes how important it is, how incomplete she is without Adam as Adam was before she was created. She is not thinking of pulling Adam down with her or even hoping to ascend with him to the level of gods. The only thought in her mind is the absolute preservation of their union: "So dear I love him, that without him all deaths / I could endure, without him live no life" (0.832-33). However, her declaration of love, as Flannagan notes, is "highly suspect" considering that she is willing to kill Adam in order to preserve herself through preservation of their union (507).
Fortunately for Eve perhaps, Adam likewise, cannot imagine life without her and perhaps her words, like Satan's, "too easy entrance won:"
Thou therefore also taste, that equal Lot
May joyne us, equal Joy, as equal Love;
Least thou not tasting, different degree
Disjoyne us. (9.881-84)
Eve realizes that their union is hanging in the balance since one of Adam's options could "joyne" them and another "disjoyne" them. Eve makes it sound as if everything is up to Adam&emdash;he can choose "equal Joy" and "equal Love" or by "different degree disjoyne" them. Eve wants Adam to think that if their union is not preserved, it is his fault because it was his choice. Adam is at first horrified by Eve's transgression, but as Eve fell by her weakness regarding knowledge, Adam falls by his weakness regarding her physical beauty. When Eve presents the apple to him in all her beauty, she is actually presenting herself as an alternative source of knowledge, an alternative god. Her temptation really works because Adam needs Eve and cannot live without her:
And mee with thee hath ruind, for with
Certain my resolution is to Die;
How can I live without thee, how forgoe
Thy sweet Converse and Love so dearly joyn'd.
...Flesh of Flesh,
Bone of my Bone thou art, and from thy State
Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe. (9.906-09, 914-16)
Adam loses his head, "overcome with Female charm" (9.999), like Raphael warned him not to do. Adam is worshipping Eve's physical beauty, and because she is in a fallen state, she encourages the limitation in his thinking. Adam falls because he defies the hierarchy originally established. The hierarchy of knowledge from God to Adam to Eve, once subverted, changes to the hierarchy from Satan to Eve to Adam. Eve has replaced God as Adam's absolute source of knowledge just as the serpent has replaced Adam as Eve's. Their union is broken because they have both defied its original terms.
Adam and Eve do save their union in a sense, but it is not a union of equals but of guilty conspirators: "Love was not in thir looks, either to God / Or to each other, but apparent guilt" (10.111-12). Their sex is now a dirty act between two fallen people:
Carnal desire enflaming, hee on Eve
Began to cast lascivious Eyes, she him
As wantonly repaid; in Lust they burne. (9.1013-15)
Their sex could be an attempt to regain the connection they felt before the fall, but it is obvious to both of them afterward that they are no longer in God's grace, and they find that they, as well as their union, are as dirty as their sex:
Bad Fruit of Knowledge, if this be to know,
Which leaves us naked thus, of Honour void,
Of Innocence, of Faith, of Puritie,
Our wonted Ornaments now soild and staind. (9.1073-76)
They have lost all mutual respect and instead turn to "mutual accusation" (9.1187). Eve blames Adam for allowing her to go off alone and in effect blames him for not enforcing the hierarchy that she chose to subvert:
Being as I am, why didst not thou the Head
Command me absolutely not to go,
Going into such danger as thou saidst?
Too facil then thou didst not much gainsay,
Nay didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss.
Hadst thou bin firm and fixt in thy dissent,
Neither had I transgress'd, nor thou with mee. (9.1155-61)
Eve is admitting that the intellect is not her strength but Adam's, which she should have been aware of when she attempted to use her intellect as a strength against Adam to convince him to let her go and then again with Satan when she rationalized her way to eating the fruit. Eve does, of course, succeed in subverting the established hierarchy, and her acknowledgment of "Neither had I transgress'd, nor thou with mee" shows that Adam's transgression was under her power. Similarly, Adam blames Eve for subverting the hierarchy and wielding her powers when he allowed her to undermine his authority by following her instead of God:
I also err'd in overmuch admiring
What seemd in thee so perfet, that I thought
No evil durst attempt thee. (9.1178-80)
Even though Adam is pointing out his own weakness of over-admiring Eve and losing his head around her, he says it in such a way as to actually place the blame on Eve, seemingly for her existence alone. They are far from redemption since neither has begun to accept that perhaps they are each individually at fault.
Christ descends to pass judgment and reprimands Adam for subverting the hierarchy, i.e., for accepting knowledge from Eve and not God: "Was shee thy God, that her thou didst obey / Before his voice" (10.145-46). Adam did have a choice, as Eve made clear to him, and he chose to follow Eve and not God. As Flannagan notes, "Adam in worshipping Eve's outside was following a false god" (535). Christ, in no uncertain terms, defines the proper hierarchy:
Thou did'st resigne thy Manhood, and the Place
Wherein God set thee above her made of thee,
And for thee, whose perfection farr excell'd
Hers in all real dignitie. (10.147-51)
When Adam accepts Eve's knowledge over God's and thereby obeys her before God, "he resigns his manhood and violates his position in nature and she becomes his god, worshipped like an idol" (Flannagan 535). Christ's punishment of Eve likewise shows that Eve subverted the established hierarchy by accepting knowledge from Satan and not Adam: "To thy Husbands will / Thine shall submit, hee over thee shall rule" (10.194-96). Christ not only reinstates the hierarchy of knowledge that Eve subverted but adds to it a hierarchy of power. Christ's judgment "reiterates the position that the husband's authority over the wife is increased, unpleasantly, after and as a result of the fall" (Flannagan 538). Christ's reprimand of Adam and his judgment of Eve both show that each defied their positions in the hierarchy of knowledge. The fall changed the flow of knowledge from the serpent to Eve to Adam, and Christ changes it back to its proper flow from God to Adam to Eve.
Once Christ has passed judgment, Adam and Eve each begin to realize how much they have lost, how far they have fallen, but Adam still refuses to take any blame on himself, and so it is Eve who begins to rebuild their union: Adam and Eve "see that they have broken covenant with God, themselves, and each other, but as Eve took the first step away from the marriage, she now is first to try to repair the damage" (Webber 15). Adam tries to convince himself that he does not need Eve and that God should have created the world "With Men as Angels without Feminine" (10.893). Eve, however, admits that she still needs Adam:
Whereon I live, thy gentle looks, thy aid,
Thy counsel in this uttermost distress,
My onely strength and stay.
Between us two let there be peace, both joyning,
As joyn'd in injuries. (10.919-21, 924-25)
In saying, "Whereon I live" or alternatively "You on whose life I depend" (Flannagan 573), Eve is acknowledging that she cannot live without Adam and his "counsel," which shows that she has once again accepted her limitation of knowledge and thereby Adam as her "head." She wants them to reunite in peace though she realizes the terms of their union have changed and they are "joyn'd in injuries." She goes beyond simply asking for their reunification; she will even take their sins entirely on her soul so that Adam can be free:
The sentence from thy head remov'd may light
On me, sole cause to thee of all this woe,
Mee mee onely just object of his ire. (10.934-36)
This act of total selflessness inspires Adam to accept the blame and rebuild their union. Because of Eve's sacrifice, Adam realizes that he, too, should take responsibility for his actions, and he, like Eve, offers to accept full responsibility:
On my head all might be visited,
Thy frailtie and infirmer Sex forgiv'n,
To me committed and by me expos'd. (10.955-57)
As Flannagan writes, "Confessing to her, Adam admits that in allowing her to go out he exposed her to danger" (574). Adam is finally taking responsibility for his own actions and accepting Christ's judgment of him: had he not been worshipping Eve, he would have been able to clearly see the danger he was exposing her to and would not have allowed her to go. Eve does not accept his offer of taking total responsibility and instead offers a way for them to keep their union and at the same time prohibit the perpetuation of their error: suicide. When Adam refuses this, she suggests remaining childless so that their children will not have to endure the repercussions of their sin. But Adam remembers the promise Christ made to both of them:
Calling to minde with heed
Part of our Sentence, that thy Seed shall bruise
The Serpents head.
...To crush his head
Would be revenge indeed; which will be lost
By death brought on our selves, or childless days
Resolv'd, as thou proposest. (10.1030-32, 1035-38)
Adam realizes that he and Eve must have children because it is only through her seed that they will be redeemed. Adam is again acting as head of their union and his suggestion as well as his position are accepted by Eve. They throw themselves on God's mercy and beg for forgiveness, thereby again accepting God as the supreme authority in the hierarchy.
Adam and Eve once again respect each other. Adam acknowledges his need of Eve's seed to redeem his sins:
Whence Haile to thee,
Eve rightly call'd, Mother of all Mankind,
Mother of all things living, since by thee
Man is to live. (11.158-61)
Eve is "Mother of all Mankind" because through her the world will gain redemption. Eve acknowledges her need for Adam's guidance and reiterates her allegiance to him with her words, "I never from thy side henceforth to stray" (11.176). When they are expelled from Paradise, their only solace is each other, and in each other they have all that they need. Eve says to Adam,
But now lead on;
In mee is no delay; with thee to goe,
Is to stay here; without thee here to stay,
Is to go hence unwilling; thou to mee
Art all things under Heav'n, all places thou. (12.614-18)
Eve's Paradise is with Adam and Adam's is with her because only through her can he reclaim Paradise. They leave the Garden "hand in hand" (12.648) just as they had spent so many happy hours within it.
The union of Adam and Eve is redeemed though perhaps not restored since they can never be exactly as they once were. The most important change in their post-Fall relationship is the hierarchy of power that Christ implements as a punishment for Eve; before the Fall, only a knowledge hierarchy exists. However, even this post-Fall power hierarchy is interestingly subverted because Adam needs Eve to redeem his sins through her seed. This point further emphasizes the underlying theme of their union: their basic need for one another as opposed to a power struggle between them. Their opposite natures, which Milton clearly defines in their individual creation narratives, result in limitations that are provided for by each other. Because of these individual limitations, it is essential that each preserves the union in order to preserve the individual. But more importantly, Adam and Eve do not necessarily represent male and female or, more specifically, that man should rightly rule over woman: they are two forces which must remain in balance, or if they change, they must change according to each other and come to terms with a new union. The relationship of Adam and Eve changes greatly in the course of Paradise Lost and though they lose much of what they begin with, they end with what they need: each other and a newly defined union whose terms they both accept.
Froula, Christine. "When Eve Reads Milton: Undoing the Canonical Economy." John Milton. Ed. Annabel Patterson. New York: Longman, 1992. 142-164.
McColley, Diane Kelsey. Milton's Eve. Chicago: U of Illinois P, 1934.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. Roy Flannagan. New York: Macmillan, 1993.
Webber, Joan Malory. "The Politics of Poetry: Feminism and Paradise Lost." Milton Studies. Vol. 14. Ed. James D. Simmonds. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 1980. 3-24.