Paradise Lost Book 9
Milton informs the reader that he must "change these notes to tragic; foul distrust, and breach disloyal on the part of man, revolt and disobedience." Book 9, lines 5-8.
Milton asks Urania for help, and returns to present-time action. Satan returns to earth as a mist, and searches for a creature to inhabit. He chooses the serpent since it is the most subtle animal he can find. Satan explains that the more pleasures he sees, the more torment he feels. He doesn't want to live on earth or in heaven, though he wants to make others experience the same pain that ails him. He explains, "only in destroying I find ease to my restless thoughts," Book 9, lines 129-30, stressing that with his intensity of ambition he'll stop at nothing for revenge.
Meanwhile, Eve is suggesting to Adam that they split up when doing their daily work. That way, she argues, they could get more done. Adam replies that God made them "not to irksome toil, but to delight" Book 9, line 242, although he does concede that "solitude sometimes is best society, and short retirement urges sweet return." Book 9, lines 249-50. Still, he warns Eve that their foe wants nothing more than to see them apart, since he would be hopeless to outwit them together. Eve is surprised to see that Adam would doubt her "firmness" because of the foe, and, although Adam persists, Eve argues that they cannot go on dwelling happily if they are living in fear. Finally, Adam gives up and lets her go.
With Adam's reluctant permission, Eve goes, assuring Adam that their proud foe would not seek her first, since she is the weaker one and he'd be ashamed to go after the easy target.
Meanwhile, Satan is looking for them, hoping "beyond hope" to find Eve separated (clearly she had misjudged the "proud foe"). He gets his wish, and entranced by her beauty, grace, and innocence, is momentarily disarmed of his enmity, envy, hate, and need for revenge. But, the more he looks at her, the more jealous he becomes that she was not made for his pleasure, and he regains all his hate.
He tells himself how happy he is not to see Adam, since he fears his greater intellect.
Satan now puts his plan into action. He begins licking the ground Eve is walking on, and tells her she is of "celestial beauty." Eve is shocked to hear a serpent speaking. Satan explains that all he had to do was eat an apple from a tree and it gave him the power to speak. Eve wants to know which tree this was since there are so many in Paradise, and the serpent leads her to the Tree of Knowledge. Eve explains that it is forbidden to eat from that tree, punished by death. The serpent tells Eve to look at him: he hasn't died from eating from the tree, in fact, it has made him closer to perfection. He tells Eve knowledge of good and evil will make her life happier, and she will be like a goddess. He asks a question which seems logical to Eve: "Wherein lies th' offense, that man should thus attain to know?" Book 9, lines 725-6.
At these words, Eve is easily won over; if beasts can eat the fruit and not die, humans should be able to as well. Plus, she figures the beast is not deceiving her but doing her a favor. So, in a moment of great dread for the reader who knows what is to come, Eve eats from the tree. Immediately afterwards, the earth lets out a sigh to signify the loss, and the guilty serpent slinks back into the thicket. Oblivious, Eve is thrilled to have received knowledge, and wonders whether she should let Adam partake in it or keep it to herself, and use the advantage to "render [herself] more equal." Book 9, line 825.
Eve wonders if she really will die. If that happened, then Adam would get another woman, and live happily ever after with that woman and not Eve. So the decision is made: Eve resolves that Adam will share with her in prosperity or misfortune. Her conniving illustrates how much she has changed after being seduced by Satan.
Just then, Adam comes upon Eve by the tree. She relates her good fortune thanks to the serpent and implores Adam to eat from the tree. Horror runs through Adam's veins at the "fatal trespass," and he drops a garland he'd made for her. Adam wonders to himself how she could've been tricked, and ruined both of them. He thinks of how heartbroken he'd be with another woman. So, in an effort to not hurt Eve's feelings, he tells Eve that she was "bold" and "adventurous" to eat from the tree and that he doubts God will kill her. Then, with the help of Eve's charms, he agrees to eat from the tree (against his better knowledge). The earth groans again, and it begins to rain.
Lust consumes Adam, and they engage in lustful acts that night. The next morning, they feel shame in their nakedness. Adam tells Eve that they have lost their honor, innocence, faith, and purity. They sew leaves together to hide their genitals, and begin to cry. After crying, they begin to feel anger and hatred toward each other. Adam tells Eve that if she had listened to him, they'd still be happy now and not miserable (this shows how much Adam has changed since first encountering the fallen Eve and trying to make the best of the situation). Eve replies that the serpent could just as easily have found him first, and he wouldn't have known that he was being tricked. Then, she tells him he should've commanded her not to go. Adam is furious at her ungrateful response. He ate the fruit out of love for her, risking death and choosing her over immortal bliss. He insists that he warned her all he could, but couldn't use force upon her. Adam closes, saying he who trusts women must be prepared to be accused if evil ensues.