chapter  3
22 Pages

Maiden, Bride and Mother: Three Faces of Eve

Milton alludes openly to Ovid's famous account of the renewal of mankind through the intercession of Deucalion and Pyrrha, the only two remaining human beings left on earth, after Jupiter had purged away the degenerate human race with a great flood. It is with fine irony that Milton grants Adam and Eve their most innocent moment, from the standpoint of mythological analogy at least, after they have fallen. Milton thus draws upon these resonant scriptural echoes to provide a biblical framework for his own symbolic structure. It is generally recognized that Milton exploits the rhetorical possibilities of typological patterning to organize his survey of human history and propel his narrative forward through time to eternity. By likening Eve to Pyrrha, Milton points to the change in Eve herself: her loss of active, independent power and her new-found submissiveness and humility.