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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Barron's Booknotes
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LINES 1000-1189. ADAM AND EVE'S FIRST QUARREL

The only time that Milton uses the phrase "original sin" to describe the Fall is in the first lines after Adam has committed it. The sin is consummated with the first lustful copulation in Paradise. Adam and Eve behave like two people after a party, too drunk to care what they're doing.

When they've slept it off, they realize for the first time that they are naked. Despair settles on Adam as he reproaches Eve. How can he ever again talk with God and his angels in his shameful nakedness? He suggests that they find some way to cover themselves.

They use fig leaves from the Indian banyan tree. Now Adam and Eve look like the native Americans that Columbus found when he arrived in the New World.



Their sorry state causes them not only to weep but to feel anger, hate, mistrust, and suspicion for each other. They begin a miserable quarrel, full of the kind of reproaches which are perfectly true but of no help whatsoever in the present situation. If you hadn't eaten the fruit, Adam says to Eve, we'd still be happy. If you had commanded me not to leave you, Eve says, I wouldn't have done this. It's your fault.

Adam furiously replies that he won't take that responsibility-he couldn't force her against her free will. Perhaps I was a bit overconfident, but I'm sorry for it now, especially since you are accusing me of causing the whole mess. Any man who trusts a woman will not only get into trouble, he'll get blamed for it as well.

The quarrel goes on. It can't come to any conclusion because neither is willing to take responsibility. You will understand that from your own experience; nothing improves until one party is willing to give a little and then the other joins in. But it's deadlock until that point.

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