chapter  1
“The Fairer Image”: Reflections of Narcissus and Pygmalion’s
ByIvory Maid
Pages 30

This chapter traces the way in which the first marriage is figured through Pomona's wedding of the vine to her elm. It shows how Milton's handling of the vine motif becomes a focus for furthering our understanding of the complexities of gender difference and the distribution of power in the first marriage, while at the same time casting light on the significance of Eve's separation from Adam before the Fall and their reunion afterwards. The chapter illustrates Milton's ability to include a symbolic episode and hold it up as a mirror to reflect certain less obvious areas of meaning without causing the narrative to pause unduly. The emblematic picture of the sturdy elm and the clinging vine underlies Milton's portrayal of the first marriage and is apparently the means by which he would translate into graphic visual terms the abstract hierarchical conception of a relationship in which Eve's dependence on Adam is central.