This study will examine the character of Eve in John Milton's Paradise Lost. Specifically, the study will analyze Eve's motives for separating from Adam (before the temptation); for eating the fruit; and for sharing the fruit with Adam. Also to be considered is how and why her motives changed from situation to situation.
Eve is clearly portrayed by Milton as the cause of the fall from grace. In each scene, she seems to have made up her mind about what she is going to do---leave Adam to work separately in Eden, eat the fruit, and share the fruit with Adam---before she even starts considering. She shapes her reasoning to fit the decision she seems to have already made. Each decision is also clearly rebellious and/or selfish. Essentially, Eve does exactly what she wants to do, tempting danger at each point. Her motive in each case is to follow her own will and to resist the imposition of either the will of God or Adam.
In the first scene, Eve suggests to Adam that they will get more work done in tending Eden if they split up instead of working together. The implication seems to be that even though they start work early every day, they get little done because they keep distracting one another with their love: "For while so near each other thus all day/ Our task we choose, what wonder if so near/ Looks intervene and smiles, or object new/ Casual discourse draws on, which intermits/ Our day's work, brought to little, though begun/ Early, and th' hour of supper comes unearned!" (lines 220-225). At least on the surface, then, her motivation for separating is to get more work done, which would seem to be a way to please God, although the latter is not stated but only implied.
Adam says it is a good suggestion to split up and work separately, and he says that perhaps it would be good for their love to be apart for a "short absence," because "solitude sometimes is best society,/ And short retirement urges sweet return" (248-250). Howe...