A Romance of Biblical Proportions
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman.
When this woman awoke, she foundeth herself lying beside a tranquil pool. Uncertain of who she was or where she was, she looketh into the pool and just opposite a shape within the wat’ry gleam appeared, bending to look on her. So entranced was she that she sat gazing upon her own reflection, puzzling over the questions that plagueth her. There she had fixed her eyes till now and pined with vain desire till some divine power cameth upon her, compelling her to draw herself from that pool. Tither she went, finally coming upon a man resting under the boughs of a tree, fair indeed, and tall!
Adam, awakening with a start, gazed upon her with such ferocity that she did back away, drawn toward the calming reflection of the pool. She fled till she heard his deep voice beckoning her back to him, as he cried’st aloud, “Return, fair Eve!” Upon hearing a name, she returned curiously, wanting to know more of what this strange creature kneweth of her.
And Adam said, crying aloud to God at discovering his new companion, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man for to give her being I lent out of my side to her, nearest my heart, substantial life to have her by my side.”
To Eve, thus he spake, “Henceforth an individual solace dear. Part of my soul I seek thee and thee claim my other half.”
Reaching out, Adam grasped the woman’s hand, who he had called Eve, and she calmed. Rather than flee she chooseth to stay and learn more, and questioned him to this effect. He began to praise her virtues, her unadornèd golden tresses in wanton ringlets and for her softness and sweet attractive grace. So extolling of her was he that she became smitten, hanging on his every word, eager for the praise he bestoweth upon her.
“I am merely but a servant of our Lord, the God who has created this and all that you can see, but you, you sweet Eve were created both to serve our Lord and serve your second creator.”
“And who, pray tell, might this second creator be, Adam?” She smiled softly, her eyes imploring.
“But Eve, canst thou not guess? ‘Tis me, your second creator, for it twas my rib that gave you life. You are to be my partner, created for my enjoyment and companionship, pleasure for me in this, our Paradise.”
Angrily, Eve turned from him. “I shouldst have known this all to be merely wrought for your pleasure, for why wouldst thou turn such pretty phrases towards me if not for your own joy and happiness? Didst thou thinkest me a fool, that thou could so easily deceivest me, speaking of my beauty and not of my worth as an individual?” So saying, she strode away, muttering about his cocksure nature.
“I gavest you life!” Adam called out angrily. “Foolish woman, you are to be my companion. Oh God! Why didst thou create such a headstrong creature to be mine? ‘Tis this some joke Thou thinkest to play upon me, your humble servant? What didst I do to deserve such treatment?” Receiving no answer from his Creator, Adam instead strode after Eve, his angry words not appeasing her in the least.
“Beloved, Eve, with perfect beauty unadorned. My author and disposer, what He bidst unargued I obey: so God ordains. I knowest no more than what He sayeth to me, and I didst not mean to devalue thou…”
“Canst thou speakest on nothing but my beauty? Canst we not talkest about The Creation or more than what thou seest of me? Am I no more than a beautious creature to thou? Among unequals what society can sort, what harmony or true delight, which must be mutual in proportion due given and received? But in disparity--the one intense, the other still remiss--cannot well suit with either but soon prove tedious alike. Of fellowship I speak such as I seek, fit to participate all rational delight wherein the brute cannot be human consort. For was that not whyst I was created? To be your companion, to converse and spend time in idleness together?”
And Adam contemplated her in such pure and unadulterated amazement that she threweth up her hands in frustration. “If thou canst not accept me for who I am, then why dost thou stand there? Tis it merely to annoy me with thou very presence?”
He in delight of her beauty smiled with superior love as Jupiter on Juno smiles and repliest to her, “O sole in whom my thoughts find all repose, my glory, my perfection. If thou art so angered by me, whyst we not spend the day in sweet repose apart from one another. I shall choose my work in the garden to tend and thee to thou choice. Then, mayhaps our joining shall bringst thou all the more joy? Let us divide our labors, thou where choice leads thee or where most needs.”
Agreeable, Eve took her leave of Adam, losing herself among the roses she chose to tend, pondering all she had discovered since her conception. The roses bushing round about her glowed, oft stooping to support each flow’r of slender stalk whose head, though gay carnation, purple, azure or specked with gold hung drooping unsustained, and amongst them Eve didst spy a small serpent slithering into her small garden. His head crested aloft and carbuncle his eyes with burnished neck of verdant gold erect amidst his circling spires that on the grass floated redundant. Pleasing was his shape and lovely, never since of serpent kind lovelier.
“Ah, beautiful creature, and whoest may thou be?” Eve asked the serpent, unaware that beasts were not apt to respond, even in such a Paradise as the one in which she resideth.
“I am but a humble Serpent, whose lot is to slither through the ground. But, ay, what a beauteous creature thou art. And so curious. Pray tell, fair creature, what knowest thou of these gardens.”
Blushing at being asked of her opinion, Eve studieth this creature called Serpent. “That Man will not confide the secrets of these gardens to me. I knowest no more than what I canst discover for myself. And thus far, my knowledge is much limited, since I have not hadst much time to learn or to discover.”
To whom the guileful Tempter thus replied, “Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve, Easy to me it is to tell thee all. Ye are a Goddess among beasts in this Paradise. Tis not fair that Adam thinkest he can keep all knowledge from you, who art as fine if not better than he. But to this end, there is a goodly tree far distant to behold loaden with fruit of fairest colors mixed, ruddy and gold which shall provide you with your just due. Pluck a single fruit from this tree to gain the knowledge Adam witholdsest from thee—nay, to gain greater knowledge than even Adam can darest to claim.”
Eyes alight with the prospect of gaining more knowledge, to learn what she so longed to, Eve twas eager to discover the wonders of this tree. Eve yet more amazed unwary thus replied, “Serpent, I long to know where I mayest be able to gaze upon this tree for myself. Pray tell, where might I taste this glorious fruit you doth describe.”
Thus, the deceiving Serpent led innocent Eve to the Tree of Knowledge, tempting her to take a single fruit from the tree, knowing this solitary act wouldst bring about the downfall of mankind forever. Unknowing Eve, so wrongly deceived, forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, and then proceeded she to eat. For if Adam had only just forewarned Eve of this great temptation, doubtless the serpent wouldst never have been able to fool Eve, wisest of all God’s creations.
Eve, upon the discovery of the sweet taste of the fruit of that fateful tree, and intent now wholly on her taste naught else regarded, such delight till then as seemed in fruit she never tasted whether true or fancied so, though expectation high of knowledge, nor was godhead from her thought. Greedily she engorged without restraint and knew not eating death.
Meanwhile, as Eve satiated herself with the juices of that godforsaken fruit, Adam worked in quandary, attempting to discern his relationship with his fair wife, Eve. “Ah, fair Goddess, I do miss thy kind looks and sweet company, though thou dost irritate me beyond all ability of any of God’s other great creatures. Ah me, Eve, I do wishest for thou return to my side so we mayest converse and I mayest find joy in thy very companionship.”
Adam the while waiting desirous her return had wove of choicest flow’rs a garland to adorn her tresses and her rural labors crown, as reapers oft are wont their harvest queen. Great joy he promised to his thoughts and new solace in her return so long delayed. Surprisèd at himself, Adam came to realize the love he heldeth for Eve, thinking on her in such kind manner that he sooneth discovered he could not bearest her absence but a moment longer and thus rushed through the garden to discover her whereabouts.
Imageth Adam’s horror upon discovering his newly found beloved holding that most dreadful of fruits, clutched in her grasp like a dog doth cling to his favourite bone. Her smile to Adam was of one who was crazed, for she believed herself to have discovered the knowledge he sought to hide from her. Alas, poor Eve, for she had just forsaken the love Adam held for her, for he realizèd the horrendous consequences awaiting his beloved. For she was doomed to fall from God’s fair grace, bound for death’s doorstep, whilst he still enjoyed the favor God bestoweth upon his fair creations.
“Eve, what is this that I see? Pray tell, what hast occurred here?”
Thus Eve with count’nance blithe her story told but in her cheek distemper flushing glowed. Fearful was she of Adam’s wrath at having found a way around his dominion, Eve sought to appease him with baleful eyes as she told her tale. “Oh Adam, beeth not angered at me, for I only sought to please you. For howest could we share in all if we were not created equal? I didst seek this knowledge to render me more equal and, perhaps, a thing not undesirable, sometime superior: for inferior who is free? I sought only to be thy equal so as thou and I couldst share in all we come upon in this our Paradise”
On th’ toher side Adam, soon as he hear the fatal trespass done by Eve, amazed, astonied stood and blank while horror chill from his slack hand the garland wreathed for Eve down dropped and all the faded roses shed. Speechless he stood and pale till thus at length first to himself he inward silence broke.
“What now shalt I do?” Adam thought, pondering silently Eve’s transgressions and how best to right this horrible wrong. “Tis all my fault, for I failed to forewarn her of this greatest of evils. But now what am I to do? Do I forsake her, my love, to the wrathful vengeance of God, our creator? For I canst not live without her, yet am doomed to be without her forevermore. Lest I find some way to fall with her. Aye, I canst partake of this great sin and thus be forsaken by our Lord but still retain my joy with this woman, who hast stolen my heart. O glorious trial of exceeding love, illustrious evidence, example high, engaging me to emulate.”
Eve, unawares of the innermost turmoil that doth plague Adam, discovered the wreath he had abandoned upon finding her beneath the boughs of the Tree of Knowledge. As a child, she plucked the wilted gift from the ground and gazed up at Adam, eyes alight with wonder. “For me, my love? Tis a gift for me? I thankest thee most kindly,” and so saying, Eve set the broken crown upon her head. The pitiful flowers askance and Eve’s wide-eyed innocence at her great sin wast more than Adam could withstand, and he, at that moment, gavest her a greater gift than that of the broken and forgotten wreath.
“Ah, love, showest me thy joyful fruit so we may share of this feast and partake of it together. For I long to be with you and sharest all with thou.”
Eve, startled by the intensity of Adam’s words, gazed at him, finding him kind and gentle. She knew deep inside her heart that Adam’s love for her was unbounding, though she wouldst soon learn the true depth of his affection. She embraced him and for joy, tenderly wept, much won that he his love had so ennobled as of choice to sharest his life and pursuits with her. She gave him of that fair enticing fruit with liberal hand. He scrupled not to eat, against his better knowledge, not deceived but fondly overcome with female charm and love for Eve, Adam partook of the original sin.
Earth trembled from her entrails as again in pangs and Nature gave a second groan. Sky loured and mutt’ring thunder some sad drops wept at completing of the mortal sin. Eve, fearful of the tremors that stemmeth from deep within the Earth, clung to Adam, grasping at his hard chest. Beneath her palm she could feelest his own pounding heart, and she lookest up to him, searching him for an answer to this mysterious rolling of the ground. As the Earth calmed, Adam felt strange stirrings deep within him, fire which he hath never felt before as he gazeth up the hapless Eve. He on Eve began to cast lascivious eyes, and she him as wantonly repaid, till neither could control their deep longing for the other. Thus Eve cameth to fully know Adam and of his great love for her, a passion so unrestraineth that little doubt could be left for Eve upon Adam’s true desires. And she, as eagerly, came to him, so as Adam couldst not doubt Eve hath forgiven his earlier repugnance at her strong nature. Her hand he seized and to a shady bank thick overhead with verdant roof embow’red and there found sweet release of much encloseth passion. Satiated of their great desire to be with one another, Adam gazeth upon Eve, his face alight with the love and passion he felteth for the woman he had fallen for.
“Beauteous Eve, I see thou art exact of taste and elegant of sapience no small part, that thou desire for me be unmatched with my love for thou. But, this sweet repast must be tempered by unfortunate sorrow; for what thou, sweet Eve, dost not know is that the fruit which thou and I have tasted was forbidden by our Lord. This Tree of Knowledge wast not meant for our consumption, and having thus tasted the forbidden fruit, we now must suffer the consequences. O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give ear to that false worm of whomsoever taught to counterfeit man’s voice thou hast been deceived. For not only of knowledge good hath we gained, but also of knowledge evil. Bad fruit of knowledge, why hast thou tempted Eve and I? For now we have our Paradise lost, for God’s wrath is to expel us from this place of rest.”
Horrified, Eve didst weep, that Adam had so chosen t’ incur divine displeasure for her sake, or death, and thus she came to realize the true value of his gift to her. A gift and a curse, that they shouldst fall, as Man failed to provide the warning to Woman, who unpreparèd was so easily tempted.
And then 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 ashamèd to face their Lord after partaking of such mortal sin.
And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, “Where art thou?”
Thus Eve and her husband presented themselves to their Lord, who hath created them in love and pureness, and discount’nanced both and discomposed. Love was not in their looks either to God or to each other but apparent guilt and shame and perturbation and despair. Abashed at the sight of their Lord, they wept at their sins and for their disobedience of their good Creator. And thus God called to each of his creations in turn, those who He loved so dearly as to create them in His own image, and told them of their crimes.
Unto Eve, God turned a sorrowful eye and thus spake, “Eve, my daughter, thou hast done me wrong by tasting of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. This Knowledge was forbidden for all the inhabitants of my Paradise, and for that sin thou shalt no long be allowed to reside in my Paradise. However, the fault alone lies not with thou, but with thou partner, the Man, Adam. Not alone shalt thou take thy exile, but forever join with him. However, to thy husband’s will thine shall submit: he over thee shall rule. But though thou mayest suffer at the hands of thou Husband for disobedience, thou shalt find redemption through the fruit of they womb. For thy children, though brought in sorrow forth, shall provide thee with fulfillment which thou shalt not receive through other associations. Thou shalt forever be joined to your Husband through the conception in thy womb and thus thou love so inspired earlier shall continue unto you both.”
Though slightly redeemed, Eve realizeth her losses and wept to know she had brought kind Adam down with her, though God consoled her weeping.
“All is not lost, my daughter, for you shalt be the mother of all living and while your desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee, he shall also retain desire always to thee, and thou and he shall forevermore be together, though thou hast sinned against Me.”
Then the Lord called to Man, and spake, “Thou hast ashamed me, for I gave you dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepth upon the earth and thus dominion over Eve, created out of your flesh. And thou hast failed her, as thou hast failed me. To her, thou wast given the duty of instruction as to the order of My Paradise and thou failed to teach, so caught up in her beauty wast thou. For this, thou shalt always be in suspicion of thy wife, for she hath no reason to believe thou shalt instruct her. However, thou love for her causteth you to forsake all, including me, a crime and redemption. Beacuase thou hast harkened to the voice of thy wife and eaten of the tree concerning which I charged thee saying, “Thou shalt not eat thereof,” cursed is the ground for thy sake, thou in sorrow shalt eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles it shall bring thee forth unbid and thou shalt eat th’ herb of the field. In the sweat of they face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground for thou out of the ground wast taken. Know thy birth, for dust thou art and shalt to dust return. However, Adam, the love you showeth for your wife shalt always be returned threefold from her, for her will is to thee. But in this charge, thou must always do right by her, for her failings shalt be yours. However, happily joined thou both shall be, for great love caused your fall from grace so that love shalt be in due turn rewarded.”
Thus Adam, knowing his duty to his Lord and to his Wife, went forth, calling for Eve. Clasping her to him, he heldeth her tightly, gazing one last time at the Paradise that he had lost. To them both, God departed with one final say, “This having learned thou hast attained the sum of wisdom. Hope no higher, though all the stars thou knew’st by name and all the’ ethereal powers, all secrets of the deep, all nature’s works or works of God in Heav’n air, earth or sea, and all the riches of this world enjoy’dst and all the rule, one empire. Only add deeds to thy knowledge answerable, add faith, add virtue, patience, temperance, add love by name to come called charity, the soul of all the rest. Then wilt thou not be loath to leave this Paradise but shalt posses a paradise within thee, happier far.”
And God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And Adam graspeth Eve’s hand, and together they exited Paradise, fully partnered and happy in their love together.
( By writing Paradise Romanced, I wanted to recreate Milton’s Paradise in a way that provides a feminist perspective on Eve. Eve’s character lacks depth and definition, as she still is subservient to Adam, though slightly inquisitive in her own right. Milton provides space to develop Eve’s character, though she is still portrayed as obedient and lacking the curiosity about knowledge which Adam exhibits. Milton does argue the idea that all people are created equal in what Hobbes would call a “State of Nature”, and much time is spent debating the idea of equality and how it affects relationships. However, Milton still puts the complete blame for the fall on Eve’s shoulders. She requests to work apart from Adam despite her prophetic dream, she allows herself to be tempted by the snake, and then she knowingly tempts Adam.
Instead, I wanted to intensify his idea that men and women are equal by dividing the cause of the fall between both Adam and Eve. Adam, by not warning Eve of the dangers of talking snakes or forbidden trees, is as much to blame for their predicament as Eve is, who took the first bite of the apple. By dividing the blame for the original sin between the two, it creates a greater equality between them.
I also wanted to include some of Wollstonecraft’s critiques of Milton about his depiction of Eve as being judged on her beauty and nothing else. I developed this idea and heightened Wollstonecraft’s critique greatly, causing Adam’s preoccupation with Eve’s beauty to be the instigating factor for their fight and why they choose to separate their work. I wanted to highlight the idea that Adam sees Eve as his inferior and does not value her for anything but what she can do for him and how she looks. To do this, I reversed a number of the lines spoken by Adam and Eve, trying to mix characteristics in both in a way of equalizing them a bit more. Adam is intelligent and knows it, but he comes to discover Eve’s worth as she changes their fate and future through her actions.
By creating Eve as a more outspoken and independent woman, I wanted to make her appear more modern than her eighteenth century models. She does not put up with Adam’s weak explanations and instead is very independent pre-lapsarian. However, I wanted to make her much simpler post-lapsarian, since I saw her character as being deluded by the grandeur of the knowledge given by the tree. Adam is the only one who fully understands what happens, since Eve was never told of the tree’s fatal effects. I created this contrast because I wanted to define that split between the blame for the fall. I also utilized this difference in order to align my text with the “narrative logic of the romance” which I chose as a foundation for the plotline of my retelling of Paradise.
Janice A. Radway’s essay “The Act of Reading the Romance: Escape and Instruction” from 1984 outlines the “narrative logic of the romance”, a formula by which almost all romance novel plotlines can be aligned to. I choose to use this type of literature, the romance novel, in direct contrast the classical elegance of Milton’s epic. Romance novels allow for the development of strong female heroines, with whom women can relate. The more elevated classical work does not speak “to the people” as well as the romance novel can, nor are women often the focus of the work, as I wanted Eve to be. I found it interesting that much of Milton’s plot though fit nicely with the narrative logic and it was easy to take my idea and conform it to this plotline, though changes were made to aid in the flow of the narrative sequence. The following is Radway’s narrative logic with my usage of each section included.
“1. The heroine’s social identity is thrown into question” (Radway). Eve is shown after her creation as being lost and confused, so she seeks answer from Adam.
“2. The heroine reacts antagonistically to an aristocratic male” (Radway). At first, Eve desires to return to the pool where she previously had solace, a direct idea from Milton. However, when Eve attempts to learn more from Adam, he instead speaks only on her beauty. Frustrated, Eve and Adam fight.
“3. The aristocratic male responds ambiguously to the heroine” (Radway). At first, I wanted Adam to be angry at Eve and also at God, who created this headstrong partner. However, in an implicit epiphany, I wanted Adam to give into Eve’s demands and attempt to appease her, since Adam should realize that anger was not getting him anywhere. I wanted Adam’s character at this point to be perceived as being patronizing Eve’s frustrations. I want the reader to see him suggesting their separation as being an act solely for Eve’s benefit, as if he were giving in to the tantrums of a child. This heightens the idea of Adam’s superiority beliefs.
“4. The heroine interprets the hero’s behavior as evidence of a purely sexual interest in her” (Radway). I have Eve frustrated by Adam’s praise of her beauty. While not explicitly sexual, I wanted there to be undertones of Adam’s perception of Eve as subservient, both physically, mentally and sexually, to him, though I kept it implicit so it would not be interpreted as lust. Adam craves for Eve’s subservience and quiet companionship to satisfy this narrative point.
“5. The heroine responds to the hero’s behavior with anger or coldness.
6. The hero retaliates by punishing the heroine.
7. The heroine and hero are physically and/or emotionally separated” (Radway). I combined these three plot points, since they are meshed in my creation. Eve becomes frustrated and angry with Adam and his inability to converse with her, rather than throwing compliments at her as though she were a simple-minded fool. Therefore, Adam believes he can punish Eve by sending her away. I play on the adage “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”, since it is Adam who finds he is missing Eve, rather than the other way around, as Adam intended. The two are separated as they work in the garden. Eve’s frustrations with Adam are what cause her to confide in the Serpent, who appears to listen and value her opinions, which is what she craves from Adam.
“8. The hero treats the heroine tenderly” (Radway). Adam realizes he longs for Eve’s companionship and creates a wreath for her as a present and an attempt to atone for his earlier devaluing of her. Here, I want Adam to be seen more compassionately than I had betrayed him earlier in the tale, since I want to audience to like Adam once he realizes Eve’s independent worth.
“9. The heroine responds warmly to the hero’s act of tenderness” (Radway). I wanted Eve’s innocence of the causation and effects of the fall to be heightened here, by contrasting Adam’s horror at discovering her sin with her pure pleasure at his gift, childlike in her innocence. I wanted this contrast to be heightened greatly so as to show Adam’s part in the fall by showing Eve’s utter naïveté at what has happened.
“10. The heroine reinterprets the hero’s ambiguous behavior as the product of previous hurt.
11. The hero proposes/openly declares his love for/demonstrates his unwavering commitment to the heroine with a supreme act of tenderness” (Radway). I combined these two plot points, since Eve does not discover Adam’s choice to sin with her rather than lose her until after he has partaken of the Tree of Knowledge. I wanted this to be a tender moment of romance between the two, since Adam has come to value Eve and, through his actions, made them equals. This idea of equality is especially important to me throughout this recreation.
“12. The heroine responds sexually and emotionally to the hero” (Radway). I wanted this to happen post-lapsarian so there is lust, but I also wanted to show this as a way of Adam and Eve coming together and finally being able to be together without their prior arguments. Thus, they have finally become equals.
“13. The heroine’s identity is restored” (Radway). Rather than restored, I wanted God to define Eve’s role in life. With a twist of the words of God, I wanted to make it so Eve finds fulfillment in childbirth and that her dominion to her husband is one of love, rather than something to be suffered.
I reversed the chronological order of a number of the quotes I utilized with intentional purpose, as well as reversing the speaker in a number of quotes. For instance, when God tells Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:28 ), this blessing comes pre-lapsarian. However, since the fall helps Eve discover fulfillment, I wanted there to be an idea of forgiveness for the transgressions. For though Paradise is lost, I wanted there to be hope for Adam and Eve. I see this redemption as stemming from Adam’s ability to see Eve as his equal and for the love that exists between them that allowed this equality to form. I enjoyed mixing my own words with the quotes and challenge readers to discover Milton’s words and the Bible’s text from my own creations.
I wrote this explanation in hopes of further elaborating what might be unclear in the text and to show some of my specific distortions of the text in order to emphasize the idea that love conquers all and equality is the pathway to redemption.)
View User's Journal
A collection of stories, thoughts, wanderings, and a bunch of fictional writing. A place to develop my characters or just think out loud... You'll never know what may be true or not.