In John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost , the issue of who is to blame for the fall of man is one that for the most part can be interpreted from a close reading of book IX. Based on the text, Eve played a larger role in the decision to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Adam’s role was more passive in that he simply followed the wishes of Eve. When everything is sorted out later in the story, it becomes clear that Adam and Eve were equally at fault for their actions.
After an extended visit from the angel Raphael at hich time he explained in great detail to Adam the dangers of falling into temptation and disobeying God’s will, Adam is faced with a problem. The problem is that Eve wants to split up for the day and Adam knows that this is a bad idea, particularly after the dream that she has described to him. They argue at great length, but in the end Adam allows Eve to do as she wishes even though he knows she is making a very bad decision.
Adam also knows that his ability to reason is inherently stronger than Eve’s, yet in his love for her is so strong that consents to her will. This yielding is very similar to Eves yielding to the serpents deception because Adam is aware of the probable outcome of this decision. In his final plea for her to remain pious he says to Eve: O woman, best are all things as well Of God ordained them; his creating hand Nothing imperfect of deficient left Of all he had created, much less man, Or aught that might his happy state secure, Secure with outward force.
Within himself The danger lies, yet lies within his power; Against his will he can receive no harm. But God left free the will, for what obeys Reason is free, and reason he made ight, But bid her well, and still erect, Lest by some by fair appearing good surprised, She dictate false and misinform the will To what God expressly hath forbid. Not then mistrust, but tender love, enjoins That I should mind thee oft, and mind thou me.
Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve, Since reason not impossibly may meet some specious object by the foe suborned, And fall into deception unaware, Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warned. Seek not Temptation, then which not to avoid Were better, and most likely if from me Thou ever not: trial will come unsought. Wouldest thou approve thou constancy, approve First thy obedience, th’other who can know, Not seeing thee attempted, who attest?
But if thou think trial unsought may find Us both securer than thus warned thou seemst, Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more. Go in thy native innocence; rely On what thou hast of virtue, summon all; For God towards thee hath done his part: do thine. (9,343-379) In this long speach Adam is pleading with Eve to see that is is a terrible idea for her to venture out into he garden alone in the mist of such impending danger. It is as though he is giving her a speach before he sends her out to battle.
Battle is precisely what she walks into, and Adam is clearly aware that this is going to happen. It is his decision to yield to Eve that makes him as much to blame for the fall as Eve is for trusting the serpent and falling into temptation. After Eve has been corrupted she is faced with a decision of what to do about Adam. She decides to convince him to eat the apple as well so that they will share what ever unishment that they will have coming to them.
Adam knows that eating the apple is very wrong, but he does so anyway because his love for Eve is so strong will not let her suffer punishment alone. This being his decision, he eats the apple and thus disobeys the word of God and contradicts every thing he has been telling Eve that they must believe in. After the deed is done, they fall into a terrible argument of who is to blame, but the reality is that the two of the are equally at fault for the fall of man, because either could have prevented it if they had obeyed the will of God.