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Adam And Eve Genesis Story English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1592 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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As Christians- and any other religion relating to Christ- are told numerous times during their religious studies, or when attending Mass, that humans were created in the image and likeness of God. This testimony of a human's innate likeness and godlike image can be traced back to these lines in Book IV of Paradise Lost: "Two of far nobler shape erect and tall/ Godlike erect, with native Honor clad/ In naked Majesty seem'd Lords of all/ And worthy seem'd, for in thir looks Divine/ The image of thir glorious Maker shone" (Book IV, lines 287-291). The modeling of the first parents can be seen as a model of God's love and divinity: proving their perfections by making them flawless in flesh and spirituality, providing the necessities for their well-being, and having them mirror the roles that God already plays but on a physical, mortal level in Eden. However, even though God created them to be in his likeness, he created them to be both physically, spiritually, and psychologically different.

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He blessed man and woman, although biologically different, with characteristics that were passed down onto future generations: "Not equal, as thir sex not equal seem'd;/ For contemplation hee and valor form'd,/ For softness shee and sweet attractive Grace" (Book IV, lines 295-297). Men were blessed with philosophical reasoning whereas women were blessed with intuitive reasoning. According to Roberta Martin's article, Milton and the" Intelligible Flame": "Sweet Converse" in the poetry and prose, Adam and Eve's conversation "is a creative act producing higher states of mind and spirit on the abstract level, and progeny on the physical, and while conversation leads to degrees of intellectual, spiritual, and bodily union, it allows each of the First Parents to retain individual identity." Unlike married couples of today that war with the social roles and complications in a domestic lifestyle, Adam and Eve were created to work in peace and harmony with each other and their charges- the animals and plants. They compliment each other, holding no authority over each other's actions, treating each other with the utmost respect, returning each other's loving declarations with an equal show of affection by both parties, and the match between beauty and intuition, strength and intellect is simply sublime. Moreover, they share the responsibility of tending the garden without complaint and the task of praising God through song and the time they spend alone together. In the image of the perfectly happy couple, Adam and Eve walk through the garden hand in hand, solely at peace with themselves and with each other. They are twined around one another; Eve is the vine and Adam is the elm, embracing their wedded bliss: "They led the Vine/ To wed her Elm; she spous'd about him twines/ Her marriageable arms, and with her brings/ Her dow'r th' adopted Clusters, to adorn/ His barren leaves" (Book V, lines 215-219.)

Although the First Parents seem to share common tasks and mutual ties, the way and location in which they were created, their closeness to God through communication, how they view each other and their roles within the garden.

Whenever one hears of how they were first created, most remember that Adam was created by dust and that Eve was only a single rib taken from her male counterpart's side. Although this is true, Milton expands their creation, placing them in different locations. When Adam was first created, he awoke underneath a large tree, staring directly into Heaven: "Straight toward Heav'n my wond'ring Eyes I turn'd,/ And gaz'd a while the ample Sky, till rais'd/" (Book VIII, lines 257-258.) In contrast to Adam's location of creation, when Eve was first created, she awoke near the edge of a lake. Looking into the lake, she is enchanted by her own image but shies away from Adam when she first sees him, thus defining her as someone is who attracted to the familiar and someone who balks from what is strange. Their differences delve even deeper than their physical characteristics by ferreting out the differences in the structures of their speech.

According to Roberta Martin's article, How came I thus?: Adam and Eve in the mirror of the other, "Eve was created in part to represent a signifier of Symbolic difference rather than of fusional (Imaginary) sameness-Adam represents the standard from which she deviates-but Eve is also subordinate to Adam because she is "lacking." What she lacks is thus: the ability to see God as Adam does and the ability to hold an intelligible conversation with God, "For well I understand in the prime end/ Of Nature her th' inferior, in the mind/ And inward faculties, which most excel" (Book VIII, lines 540-542.)

The fact that Adam talks directly to God and Eve relies on Adam to communicate her creator's words suggest that Adam is a physical manifestation of God for her, connecting spirituality through the senses. Although Milton respects a woman's intelligence, he "adds the profound assumption of spiritual equivalence in his nuanced analogy of sex and marriage to Godhead" (Martin.) Martin's meaning can be seen clearly within these lines of Book VIII: "By which to heav'nly Love thou may'st ascend,/ Not sunk in carnal pleasure" and "Union of Mind, or in us both one Soul;/ Harmony to behold in wedded pair/ More grateful than harmonious sound to the ear" (lines 592-593, 604-606). However, these lines are not upheld later on in the poem, as the couple performs their ritual of conversing the next morning.

"Eve turns her experience into stories and offers them as subjects for conversation and interpretation while remaining open to Adam's point of view and to making his point of view a part of her self-a self continually under construction" (Kietzman.) Although Eve is more than willing to listen to Adam's advice and assuring words, during one of their many morning-after conversations, "Eve gains an interpretive guide: Adam. He first dismisses the dream as "wild work," a mere mismatching of shapes produced by fancy, and then decides that the dream means that Eve will avoid the disobedience they have been warned about. He says hopefully, and mistakenly, `What in sleep thou didst abhor to dream, / Waking thou never wilt consent to do'" (Mikics, Book 5, lines 120-21). Mikics' article, Miltonic Marriage and the Challenge to History in Paradise Lost, further explains the possible reasons why Adam might have said what he had told her, "In the episode of Eve's dream, Paradise Lost seems to be suggesting that the difference between this husband and this wife is, at least in part, the gap between Eve's vulnerable, troubled enjoyment and Adam's effort to make sense of this enjoyment by warding off its immediacy, by giving a theory of it that reduces its bewildering impact."

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In agreement with Mikic, Kietzman emphasizes that it was Eve's position that gives her so much grief in attempting to understand what is occurring around her, "Because she speaks from a mediate position without access to authorized verbal forms, Eve's discourse is an expression of and an attempt to give form to emotional and imaginative energies. Struggling to make sense of her surroundings and experiences, she consistently introduces otherness into her exchanges with Adam: the otherness of the past and of a narcissistic self, the mysterious otherness of Night's kingdom, and the otherness of dreams."

Their roles within the garden and the way they view each other also differ greatly. Adam was created to be God on Earth: his herald, representative, envoy. He was charged with naming and ruling over every animal, along with tending the garden and, after he receives some forbidden knowledge, become the teacher of the entire human race. Eve's roles, however, are the typical roles associated with women. Her tasks relate solely to being the garden's caretaker and helping Adam populate the world so that their progeny and the children of future generations would worship God as the one true god.

In regard to who they view one another, Adam "perhaps thinks he desires `rational delights,' but what he gets is his paternally conditioned Desire-a clinging beauty who at first, instead of conversing with an angel, would rather learn theology in Adam's arms. Moreover, Adam's `likeness' is also fatally susceptible to a temptation which in large measure Satan couches in terms of appearances and otherness-elements that were primary in God's verbal response to Adam's request" (Mikics.) Adam also, according to Greg Smith, sees his position in a hierarchical perspective, with his power extending not only over the animals in which he commands, but with his female companion: "After all, he reasons, he resembles God more than she, and because God represents the more powerful faction of male reasoning, shouldn't this power be manifest in himself as well?" (Smith.) Eve's view of Adam, at first, is one full of mutual agreement and companionship; however, near their Fall, "Eve is no longer willing to continue to support the illusion of her subjection to Adam-for all patriarchal purposes, she too has gotten out of control. She asserts her individuality and authority in declaring that they should split up to tend the garden," (Smith.) She views herself as being more than just something to command: she sees herself as someone with a reasoning and will of her own, a quality that sets her apart from her naïve husband, who always thought that he was the superior creation.


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