Eve’s Speech to the Forbidden Tree in Milton’s Paradise Lost

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Eve’s Speech to the Forbidden Tree in Milton’s Paradise Lost

In Book IX of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Eve makes a very important and revealing speech to the tree of knowledge. In it, she demonstrates the effect that the forbidden fruit has had on her. Eve’s language becomes as shameful as the nakedness that Adam and Eve would later try to cover up with fig leaves. After eating the forbidden apple, Eve’s speech is riddled with blasphemy, self-exaltation, and egocentrism.

The first part of Eve’s speech contains the most blatant blasphemy. In it, she turns the forbidden tree into an idol, or a false god. She promises that “henceforth [her] early care, / Not without song each morning, and due praise / Shall tend [the tree]” (ln
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She imagines that God’s view from heaven is too “high and remote to see from thence distinct / Each thing on Earth; and other care perhaps / May have diverted [Him] from [His] continual watch” (ln 812-14). She goes on to refer to God with a blasphemous name used by the serpent: “Our great Forbidder” (ln 815). She uses a scornful tone to speak of God, who is “safe with all his spies / About him” (ln 815-6).

In that same section of this speech, Eve becomes overly sure of herself; she begins to compare herself to the gods. She tells the tree that she will eat of its fruit until she “grow[s] mature / In knowledge, as the gods who all things know” (ln 803-4). At the end of this line is a spondee, the effect of which makes this gift that Eve is receiving seem all the more awesome. If she eats the forbidden fruit, Eve believes that she will eventually acquire all the knowledge necessary to make her an equal to the gods themselves.

Similarly, she praises Experience for allowing her access to Wisdom, “though secret she retire” (ln 810). This in itself would not be a bad thing, but she continues with the words that are almost an afterthought: “and I perhaps am secret” (ln 811). By adding these five words, Eve is placing herself on the same high level as Wisdom herself.
At line 816, the poem changes direction. Eve has given praise to the tree, and has speculated whether or not God has

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