John Milton – “Paradise Lost” Book 9 (the end)

After a short break due to a weekend spent out of town, I resume my regular posts. Adam wakes up with moral hangover and starts to rue his and Eve’s action. How can he now look in the face of God or even his angels? He would like to hide himself somewhere deep in the forest. Meanwhile, he asks Eve to go and look for leaves to cover their shame. They find the fig tree, not the common fig, but the Indian fig, as Milton specifies, basing his description on John Gerard’s 16-th c. Herball. Actually, as the Helpful Footnote observes, the common fig would be a better choice because its leaves are bigger. They stitch the leaves together, forming skirts like those worn by Indians discovered by Columbus. Then they sit down to weep, but in their fallen state their reason is now overruled by passions and emotions, so soon Adam starts to accuse Eve of causing their downfall. Eve answers the temptation could have happened just as well when they were both together, and anyway it’s all Adam’s fault, because he should have forbidden her to go. Adam is incensed, “So this is all my fault now? Is this how you pay me for choosing to share your fate? I did everything I could to keep you from going, and what else could I do but to keep you with me by force, ‘and force upon free will hath here no place’. My only fault is that I trusted you too much. But this is what happens to men who indulge women: when something bad happens, women themselves will be the first to accuse men of over-indulging them”. Thus they spend their time in vain accusations, neither thinking about looking for blame within themselves.

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