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Kant On Enlightenment Essay, Research Paper
3. What is the effect of the Fall on Adam and Eve?
Answer: The specious words of the serpent into Eve’s heart “too early
entrance win.” The fruit looked delicious, it was noontime, and she was
hungry. The smell of the fruit aroused her appetite. So “Forth reaching to
the fruit, she pluck’d, she eat.” While nature sighed “That all was lost,”
and the serpent slunk back into the thicket, Eve immediately felt the effects
of the Fall. She eats to excess as never before.
Greedily she ingorg’d without restraint,
And knew not eating Death: Satiate at length
And height’n'd as with Wine, jocund and boon
Thus to herself she pleasingly began.
“Greedily,” “ingorg’d,” “Satiate,” “height’n'd,” “jocund,” and “boon” all
suggest excess in eating and drinking. “Height’n'd as with Wine,” Eve, like a
drunken person, is filled with confidence and high spirits. She praises the
tree which gave such fruit, (C. S. Lewis speaks of her as “worshipping a
vegetable” at this point) and promises to offer it praise every morning. In
her overconfidence she expects to grow more and more mature, the more she eats
of the fruit. She expects to attain “knowledge, as the gods who all things
know.” (Note that she says “gods” now, not God.) She feels that she is reaping
the fruits of experience, that Heaven is too remote to know what she is doing,
and that the “great Forbidder” and his spies have other cares. In short, she
feels (falsely) that she has got away with disobedience and profited from it.
The next thing that we notice is her attitude toward Adam. She wonders
whether or not she should tell him about her discovery. Both her arguments
are selfish. First she thinks she will keep her knowledge secret
so to add what wants
In Female Sex, the more to draw his Love,
And render me more equal, and perhaps,
A thing not undesirable, sometime
Superior: for inferior who is free?
So already she is tempted both to deceive Adam Eve and to be (if
possible) superior to him, thus upsetting the hierarchy of order. But her next
thought is different, though it is equally selfish. Suppose God has seen her
disobedience and suppose she really dies as a consequence. Could she bear the
thought of “Adam wedded to another Eve”? Jealous already in imagination, she
decides she could not bear it.
Confirm’d then I resolve,
Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe
So dear I love him, that with him all deaths
I could endure, without him live no life.
And once more she bows to the tree, committing the sin of idolatry.
Meanwhile, Adam has woven a wreath of flowers, for her hair and is
looking forward to her return, a little anxious over her welfare. She meets
him with a bough of the tree in her hands, and tells him somewhat
apologetically that she has missed him. Quickly she plunges into the subject
of the tree. The tree, she explains, is not evil or dangerous. It made the
serpent wise and Eve wiser than shed use to be, “and growing up to Godhead.”
She wants him to eat it too, for bliss is not true bliss unless it is shared.
Thus Eve with Count’nance blithe her story told,
But in her Cheek distemper flushing glow’d.
Adam “Astonied stood and Blank,” dropping the wreath he had made. He
reproved Eve as “defac’d deflower’d, and now to Death devote.” He sees clearly
what has happened-Satan has tricked her-but even with his eyes open he knows
what he will do: “Certain my resolution is to die.” He loves Eve so much that
he could not live without her. Even “another Eve” could not make him forget
Flesh of Flesh,
Bone of my Bone thou art, and from thy state
Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.
He loves her with physical rather than spiritual love, but Eve is
delighted that he has offered her so noble a proof of his love. She offers him
some of the fruit and he sins quite consciously:
He scrupl’d not to eat
Against his better knowledge, nod deceiv’d,
But fondly overcome with Female charm.
His sin is uxoriousness.
As in the case of Eve, the effect of the sin is immediate. Adam is
delighted with the fruit. The two
. . . swim in mirth, and fancy that they feel
Divinity within them breeding wings.
Both experience “carnal desire.”
Hee on Eve
Began to cast lascivious Eyes; she him
As wantonly repaid; in lust they burn:
Till Adam thus ‘gan Eve to dalliance move
Their mutual attraction now is contrasted with the dignity and beauty of
their previous nuptial love. Adam “forbore not glance or toy/ Of amorous
intent,” and Eve’s eyes “darted contagious Fire.” On a bank of flowers
They thir fill of Love and Love’s disport
Took largely of thir mutual guilt the Seal,
The solace of thir sin, till dewy sleep
Opress’d them, wearied with thir amorous play.
But their sleep is not light and healthful, as before, but gross and
heavy, and when they awake, innocence is gone. Their nakedness, which
previously seemed natural to them, now seems shameful, and they make
themselves loin cloths of fig-leaves. They sit down to weep, but not only
tears, but sinful emotions now appear. “High Passions, Anger, Hate,/ Mistrust,
Suspicion, Discord,” now shake their minds, once visited only by peace,
For Understanding rul’d not, and the Will
Heard not her lore, both in subjection now
To sensual Appetite, who from beneath
Usurping over sovran Reason claim’d
Their mutual recriminations begin. Adam blames Eve for going off by
herself to test her virtue. Eve says first, that Adam would have been
deceived, just as she was, and second, that he should have stopped her, as she
was the weaker of the two. “Is this how you repay my love?” Adam replies, “I
have given up immortal bliss to stay with you. I warned you about going off
alone.” So the two go on bickering, but neither really blames himself. Sin has
entered into the world and into the relationships of men and women. Adam ate
the fruit so as not to be separated from Eve. Ironically, they are immediately
separated by their quarrel.
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