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crossref-it.info - AS/A2 English Literature Study Guides - texts in context.

 

Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, 'Second Adam'

Throughout English literature, the idea of a garden is a recurrent image; these images largely stem from the story of the Garden of Eden which is found in the Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

Adam and Eve

Original perfection

Genesis tells how God created the first human being, Adam. Then, because Adam needed a companion, God created the first woman, Eve, from one of Adam's ribs. God created for these first two humans a perfect garden (known as the Garden of Eden and later called paradise), where everything was beautiful and full of good things for them. However, also in this garden was the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were told by God that they could eat anything in the garden except the fruit of this tree (which, in some later traditions, was an apple tree).

The Fall of Humankind

Eve was tempted by a serpent, which is traditionally held to be the devil in the shape of a snake (see also Big ideas: Serpent, Devil, Satan, Beast). The serpent spoke to her, telling her that if she and Adam ate the fruit, they would ‘be as gods, knowing good and evil' (Genesis 3:5). Eve gave in to the temptation and also persuaded Adam to eat. They were then, for the first time, aware of shame, and instead of being innocently naked, tried to make themselves clothes out of fig leaves. Their disobedience of God is known as the Fall of Humankind and fractured the relationship between God and humans. Adam and Eve were then expelled from the garden and kept out by an angel with a flaming sword. The serpent was cursed as an enemy of humankind.

Christ, the ‘Second Adam'

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is tempted by the devil, also called Satan (whose name means ‘enemy'), but Jesus rejects the temptations. It states that Christ also saved humankind from the punishment for sin by his own sacrifice when he was put to death on a cross (also see Big ideas: Cross, crucifixion). For this reason Christ is sometimes called the second Adam because, by his death, he made it possible for the fractured relationship between God and humans to be restored.

Uses of the Garden of Eden in literature

Because of the story of Adam and Eve, beautiful gardens have become symbols of a paradise-like existence, free from sin. Many literary texts draw on the story of the Garden of Eden.

Milton's Paradise Lost

Milton's work is an epic poem which is also a complete re-telling of the story of the Fall of Humankind and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Milton's declared aim was to ‘justify the ways of God to man'.

Shakespeare's Hamlet

Shakespeare shows how Old Hamlet is poisoned in his orchard by Claudius, ‘the serpent (who) … now wears his crown', and Hamlet feels that the ‘garden' of the world has become choked with weeds (which according to Genesis 3:18 can be seen as a result of humankind's corruption).

Golding's novels

Further references

Other writers rely on readers' knowledge of the story of the Garden of Eden to suggest ideas by altering the well-known images:

Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Thomas Hardy describes how Tess hears Angel Clare playing his harp as she walks in a garden. However, Hardy deliberately alters details to show that Tess's paradise is doomed:

Lawrence's Sons and Lovers

D.H. Lawrence depicts the Garden of Eden as a place of restriction. Experiencing sexual passion, Adam and Eve ‘lose their innocence and realize the magnificence of the power which drove them out of Paradise'.

Shelley's The Revolt of Islam

Shelley surprises his readers when the serpent turns out to represent goodness.

Related topics

Big ideas: Serpent, Devil, Satan, Beast; Cross, crucifixion

Other cultural references

Milton's Paradise Lost

Shakespeare's Hamlet

Golding's Lord of the Flies, The Spire

Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Lawrence's Sons and Lovers

Shelley's The Revolt of Islam

  • King James Version
  • Today's New International Version
1Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. 9And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 14And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 16Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. 20And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. 21Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. 22And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
1Now the snake was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?' 2The woman said to the snake, 'We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'' 4'You will not certainly die,' the snake said to the woman. 5'For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' 6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9But the LORD God called to the man, 'Where are you?' 10He answered, 'I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.' 11And he said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?' 12The man said, 'The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.' 13Then the LORD God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' The woman said, 'The snake deceived me, and I ate.' 14So the LORD God said to the snake, 'Because you have done this, 'Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.' 16To the woman he said, 'I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.' 17To Adam he said, 'Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' 'Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.' 20Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. 21The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22And the LORD God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live for ever.' 23So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24After he drove them out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
  • King James Version
  • Today's New International Version
1Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. 9And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 14And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 16Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. 20And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. 21Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. 22And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
1Now the snake was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?' 2The woman said to the snake, 'We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'' 4'You will not certainly die,' the snake said to the woman. 5'For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' 6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9But the LORD God called to the man, 'Where are you?' 10He answered, 'I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.' 11And he said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?' 12The man said, 'The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.' 13Then the LORD God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' The woman said, 'The snake deceived me, and I ate.' 14So the LORD God said to the snake, 'Because you have done this, 'Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.' 16To the woman he said, 'I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.' 17To Adam he said, 'Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' 'Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.' 20Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. 21The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22And the LORD God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live for ever.' 23So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24After he drove them out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
The place described in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, in which God placed his first human creatures, Adam and Eve.
The first Book of the Bible, containing an account of God's creation of the universe, of earth and of humans, then his dealings with the family of Abraham.
The Christian Bible consists of the Old Testament scriptures inherited from Judaism, together with the New Testament, drawn from writings produced from c.40-125CE, which describe the life of Jesus and the establishment of the Christian church.
The Bible describes God as the unique supreme being, creator and ruler of the universe.
According to Genesis (the first book of the Old Testament), Adam is the first human being, made in the image / likeness of God, placed in the Garden of Eden and given dominion over the earth.
According to the book of Genesis in the Bible the first woman, said to have been created by God out of Adam's rib, to be his companion.
A place of beauty and perfection, associated in the Bible and literature with both the Garden of Eden before the Fall, and heaven. Often used as a synonym for heaven.
According to the Book of Genesis, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil grew in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat its fruit by God. When they disobeyed, they lost their innocence and close relationship with God.
In Christian tradition the apple became identified as the forbidden fruit of the garden of Eden.
A snake. In some religions and mythologies seen as the embodiment of deceit, cunning and evil, and associated with Satan.
Also known as Satan or Lucifer, the Bible depicts him as the chief of the fallen angels and demons, the arch enemy of God who mounts a significant, but ultimately futile, challenge to God's authority.
The act of tempting or something that entices an individual to do wrong. In the Bible, can come from a person's internal desires or from an external evil force such as the Devil.
Adam and Eve's act of disobedience in the Garden of Eden described in the Old Testament Book of Genesis which led to estrangement from God for them and their descendants.
Supernatural beings closely linked with the work of God; his messengers, traditionally portrayed as having a winged human form.
Calling on / use of supernatural power to bring trouble or harm to something / someone.
A 'testament' is a covenant (binding agreement), a term used in the Bible of God's relationship with his people. The New Testament is the second part of the Christian Bible. Its name comes from the new covenant or relationship with God.
The name given to the man believed by Christians to be the Son of God. Also given the title Christ, meaning 'anointed one' or Messiah. His life is recorded most fully in the Four Gospels.
Title (eventually used as name) given to Jesus, refering to an anointed person set apart for a special task such as a king.
The devil; the term 'Satan' actually means 'Enemy' and is often used to refer to the force of evil in the world.
Disobedience to the known will of God. According to Christian theology human beings have displayed a pre-disposition to sin since the Fall of Humankind.
1. The giving up of something deeply valued 2. Offerings a worshipper gives to God to express devotion, gratitude, or the need for forgiveness. 3. In the Bible, the sacrifice is seen to take away guilt and blame.
1. Instrument of execution used in the Roman Empire. 2. The means by which Jesus Christ was put to death and therefore the primary symbol of the Christian faith, representing the way in which he is believed to have won forgiveness for humankind.
Jesus is referred to as the Second Adam.