The Hero of Paradise Lost Is Eve Rather Than Adam

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For this assignment I will be answering the question “The hero of Paradise lost is Eve rather than Adam, assess the validity of this comment”. I will discuss what a hero means and how Eve’s actions could make her the hero of the poem or the villain. I hope to show whether or not there actually is a hero in the poem and if it is Eve what did she achieve as the ‘hero’. Or could Adam be the hero? I will discuss both.

“The concept of a hero has many meanings and aspects. In every culture and period, there have always been heroes. They represent a human universal, something very basic, which is connected to all human souls. The hero symbolises a goal, a role model and an example that inspires identification. Every generation chooses and creates its heroes. Real or imaginary heroes permit us to fulfil aspirations latent within us. Folk tales about heroes always contain a confrontation between a hero, whose victory exemplary, and a defeated opponent. There is a moment of struggle in which good overcomes evil. (Samson: the hero and the man: the story of Samson pg 271). “The attitude in the bible toward the subject of the hero is complex. In the sources, there is pronounced rejection of the ideal of heroism, replacing it with the ideal of restraint and self control: “he that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (prov.16:32). The bible teaches that ones true enemy within, and one should not seek an external enemy. Rather one should battle against the flaws in ones character”. (Samson: the hero and the man: the story of Samson pg 275). Does Eve or Adam fit the character of the hero?

The biblical hero is not to be identified with the usual characteristics of a hero even though he may poses them or some of them, his main characteristic is not physical strength but moral strength, permitting him to be obedient to god when all others reject god or the need to be obedient. The biblical hero obtains glory through submission. (Heroism and Paradise lost pg 13). From this statement I can say that the church would not consider Eve to be the hero as she disobeyed Gods one rule of not eating the fruit from the forbidden tree. By being tempted by Satan to eat the fruit Eve was disobeying God and having weak moral strength, everything the biblical hero wouldn’t do or have.

From reading the poem Eve could be interpreted as the hero as her transgression initiates the properly human action of the poem by fulfilling Gods intention, that she and Adam should become “authors to themselves” (Paradise lost 3.122) Eve has clearly been created to answer Adams need for another self and Gods great idea of subordination. Eve reflects the image of her maker radiating truth and wisdom. True filial submission manifests most completely in the act of self sacrifice. The true form of heroic martyrdom is, of course most conspicuously exemplified by the son of god, whose merit is demonstrated by his willingness to give his own life in order to redeem the soon to be fallen human race. The defining moment of Eve’s heroism occurs when she offers her own life for Adams in atonement for their sin, which they both committed. Adam may never have committed the sin if it hadn’t of been for his love for Eve but he still created his sin of his own free will which God gave to both Adam and Eve. Eve’s act of self sacrifice echoed that of the son of God. Adam points out that Eve’s willingness to sacrifice her own life is based on a faulty premise, as she lacks the spiritual capital to appease Gods wrath. However Eve’s gesture of self sacrifice is not pointless because it produces commiseration in Adam and thus begins regeneration. Eve’s heroic offer to sacrifice herself for Adams sake produces the transformation of evil into good. (All in all: unity, diversity and Miltonic perspective Pg 67-70).

Eve’s argument for there to be division of labour seems more reasonable than Adams docile submission to divine...
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