Lessons from Paradise Lost, or Kazzy eats the apple

When my husband and I were newlyweds, years ago, he was still two years away from graduating from BYU, while I was just finishing.  There were two classes that proved to be fascinating to him at this time: Anatomy (stop your giggling) and Metaphysical Poets.  It was this class on metaphysical poetry that convinced him to throw away his ideas of law school and inheriting the family firm and to turn instead to graduate work in the field of literature.  John Milton's Paradise Lost (an epic poem about the Creation and the Fall of Adam and Eve, written in the 1670s) became his constant companion as he prepared his honors' thesis, and it has been important to him ever since.  I thought it would be appropriate to quote a couple of lines for this entry and pay tribute to this great work.

Book VIII, lines 547-559
Adam remembers Eve's creation and his impressions of her

Her loveliness, so absolute she seems
And in her self compleat, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say,
Seems wisest, 
vertuousest, discreetest, best; [ 550 ]
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded, Wisdom in discourse with her 
Looses discount'nanc't, and like folly shewes;
Authority and Reason on her waite,
As one intended first, not after made
 [ 555 ]
Occasionally; and to consummate all,
Greatness of mind and nobleness thir seat
Build in 
her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, ...

Have I allowed myself to get so complacent in my marriage that I sometimes forget those first feelings of love and attraction I felt for G.O.?  It is so sweet to read how Adam adored his wife.  Not only was she beautiful, but she was wise.  He even suggests that she was more worthy of being first-created than he was.  Sweet, tender comments.  *sigh*

Book IX lines 780-784
Eve gives in to temptation and eats the fruit

So saying, her rash hand in evil hour [ 780 ]
Forth reaching to the Fruit, she pluck'd, she eat:
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat
Sighing through all her Works gave signs of 
That all was lost. 

I believe that Eve had much more insight than many scholars give her credit for, but I admit this passage is beautiful.  The fact that the earth felt the wound and that it sighed.  But with that said, Eve had a purpose in eating that fruit.  She knew that at the risk of disobeying she would gain insight, knowledge, and experience needed to be this first woman.  There is even a part in P.L. where Raphael points out Eve's abilities to work and accomplish, and notices Adam's tendencies toward philosophizing.  But we are not here to man-bash, only to recognize the heritage we are lucky enough to claim.  

This part of the story always makes me wonder what I have done that might seem impetuous, but works for the greater good.  I recognize that sometimes I get fortunate and things work out well in my life in spite of my bad choices.  But is there a possibility that we have, as women, inherited the talent of making the tough decisions?  

What am I doing with my Eve-ness that helps me reach my potential?  


Heidi | October 4, 2008 at 6:35 PM

Wow, Kazzy, this is so profound. Do we, as woman, make the tough choices? I don't know but I sure am going to be thinking about that one for a while.

Luann | October 4, 2008 at 6:53 PM

I know this is a bit off topic for your well written and thought provoking post, but first I want to say that I would LOVE to take an anatomy class someday and second I can't image Eve looked half as fabulous as you do eating fruit.

Back to the topic. I think men and women have distinctive God given spiritual gifts that are unique to each sex. I've been the first to take the reigns on some tough decisions in our marriage, but so has my husband. We each have different responsibilities within our home and while we are always trying to help the other out, I think the one who spends the most time and thought on any given facet of home/family/marriage/whatever is most likely going to be the one to have the inspiration on a tough decision come to him or her. In a good marriage, neither the husband or the wife is in it alone and neither one should be expected to be coming up with all the answers. Does that make any sense?

charrette | October 4, 2008 at 8:08 PM

I love contemplating Eve as a model for our lives as modern-day women. So much to ponder and emulate.

Have you read Beverly Campbell's _Eve and the Choice Made in Heaven_? It is a wonderful, eye-opening book that should be required reading for every woman. (Even over and above that, I prefer the article she published in Collegium Aesculapium called "Our Glorious Mother Eve." She takes a very scholarly, yet marked departure from the world's view of Eve as an overly impetuous sinner and temptress. Instead, she paints an amazing picture of a Mother Eve who is wise, courageous, faithful, proactive and inspired!

Kazzy | October 4, 2008 at 8:47 PM

Lu, it makes sense, but all I am saying is that I know who makes the faster decision when we go out to eat or need to decide on a movie. And it ain't the one with the glasses. Good insight though on your part. And this pear I am eating here was so soft and mushy that G snapped a few fast shots before I had to throw it out. I wasn't that interested in actually biting into it! :)

Jana, I really enjoyed "Eve and the Choice Made in Heaven". I have never red anything else she has written, but would be very interested. I could have gone on and on about Eve. Might have even used the name had we had any pink in this house (and didn't already have Adam), but alas... She does fascinate me and I love to think about the whole template she laid out. Thanks for your comment.

Kazzy | October 4, 2008 at 8:47 PM

read... ugh

Midge | October 4, 2008 at 10:04 PM

You know, it all had to start somewhere and someone had to get the ball rolling. I agree that the one to make the first decision (not always the right one or the one we go with) is me.

Little GrumpyAngel | October 4, 2008 at 11:27 PM

What a great post. So thought provoking and relevant. I identify with Eve in being my husband's "helpmeet" as Eve was to Adam. A while back I looked up that word and it is defined a suitable, and helpful partner. Eve had strengths and qualities needed in her partnership with Adam to fulfill their divine mission. I try to think in these terms in my marriage. I have been given gifts (possibly the ability to make the tough decisions as you mentioned)that when used correctly can strengthen my marriage and my husband so together we can accomplish both temporal and divine goals.

Heather of the EO | October 5, 2008 at 12:50 PM

Firstly I must say that you look twenty.

this post rocks. Such thought-provoking stuff.

LisAway | October 5, 2008 at 1:20 PM

This is a really neat post. Thanks for sharing those excerpts from that poem (which I have never read, but would love to, although when I read too much really good stuff like that it quickly becomes apparent that my brain is broken.) I love to think that one day we will meet our first parents and learn just how it was for them in Eden and making the choices they had to.

I agree with Heather that you look 20 (although it's not a matter to be agreed or disagreed upon, but rather a fact). Great idea to add those shots. It really helps me picture you in your Eve-ness!

Anonymous | October 6, 2008 at 2:45 AM

Hmmm. This is definitely the first time I have heard Eve held up as a role model. The Fall of Man was Eve becoming a strong woman? There are lots of strong women in the world who are great role models, but I don't believe Eve is one of them.

Sorry, Kazzy. I don't mean to "rain on your parade" but I just can't NOT say something.

Kazzy | October 6, 2008 at 7:45 AM

I appreciate your visit to my blog and your honest response. Yes, I understand where this idea of Eve making a good choice would not be agreed upon by other people, but we believe in our church that Eve's decision was crucial. It was because of the Fall of Man that we, as well as generations and generations before us, were able to exercise real faith, being outside the garden. Eve realized that they would now experience the joy of redemption and eternal life through obedience. These things were not possible until their faith was tried and they were removed from the garden. Also, it was then possible for them to have children and raise them under the teachings of the gospel. I hope this helps you understand my position as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Feel free to email me if you would like. Thanks again for your comment!

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