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“Like Consort”: Raphael and Adam’s Other Self, Gregory Chaplin
How can Adam hope to be united with Eve as “one flesh, one heart, one soul” if he himself is not unitary and singular? In the years leading up to Paradise Lost, Milton developed two contradictory interpretations of the first man: the erotic Adam of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, who is driven by the loneliness highlighted in Genesis 2:18 (“And the Lord said, it is not good that man should be alone”), and the republican Adam of The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, whose dignity and freedom stem from Genesis 1:26 (“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”). The former can be traced to his platonically-inspired friendship with Charles Diodati; the latter begins to emerge in 1644-45 as the political climate of the First Civil War compels him to redefine the masculine subject implicit in Of Education, Areopagitica, and Tetrachordon. In Paradise Lost, Milton does not reject one of these interpretations in favor of the other or resolve them into a single coherent scheme. He ascribes both of them to Adam simultaneously, placing him in an overdetermined and thus indeterminate relationship to Eve. This strategy allows Milton to craft a marital union whose own excessive significance generates the instability that leads to the Fall, a process that begins the moment that Raphael sets foot in the garden.
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