Adam and Eve Symbolism

Genesis – Adam and Eve

After a day of rest God created the Garden of Eden and placed Adam (formed from dust) within it. In order to give him company, he was put to sleep and a rib was removed, from which Eve was formed. The Tree of Knowledge was placed in the garden of Eden along with the Tree of Life. A snake quite easily convinces Eve to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge despite God forbidding them to do so. She then convinces Adam to eat the fruit and both are filled with shame for their sexuality and nudity. God, walking through the Gardens, discovers them clothed and realizes what they have done. He curses them with the inevitability of death, the pain of childbirth, female subjugation, and banishment from Eden. Finally, he sets guards at the gates of Eden to never allow anyone entrance to them or the Tree of Life (the only possibility of immortality) within.

Parallels to the story are told in order to show mankind’s fall (or a character’s fall) from innocence into something else – that something can be evil, a dark knowledge, death, or anything that is not pure naivete. Again, as I mentioned in the Creation post, Lord of the Flies places the children within a natural world to show their inevitable fall. Death and loss of innocence follow and, when they are rescued, death and evil have taken root in their minds. While those references are quite symbolic, other far more obvious references to the story, like Milton’s Paradise Lost, are more descriptive retellings of this same event.

The snake who tempted Eve represents the catalyst. It is not evil itself (nor is it actually Satan, as many people believe), but the tempting force that drives the sinner to eat the fruit. Grimm’s Snow White poses the witch as the snake who tempts Snow White to eat the apple. But the snake, or the tempter in whatever form, does not have to be intentionally malicious. As I said, it is more a catalyst and can therefore even be an idea someone has which leads them to act – and that act itself is the fruit.

The forbidden fruit, although most likely not an apple, is the symbol of sin. It is used to pinpoint the moment of change in a character’s psyche, or the sinful act itself. In Grimm’s Snow White, the apple clearly symbolizes death or the discovery of evil. Snow White is tempted by a more knowledgable and destructive being to partake in this sin. The symbol does not need to be an apple though. It can be a fruit of any sort such as a pomegranate or a peach, and often can be something completely different. The knowledge of this forbidden fruit can be transferred to a person initiating a sinful moment – that original sin by Adam and Eve is the origin of any original sin from here on out whether that be a character’s first murder leading to others or a character witnessing some heinous act that inevitably causes their loss of innocence.

Finally, the inability to reach the Tree of Life is the basis for mankind’s search for immortality (The Epic of Gilgamesh is the other source for this myth). Various books (such as The Divine Comedy or certain Borges stories), films (The Fountain and even The Pirates of the Carribean), and games (Sekiro and the other Souls games), all employ themes of a character searching for some form of immortality. This search is often paired with some act of sin that prevents them from reaching their goal whether that action happens before the events of the story or is a temptation that we see during the events. The act is the eating of the fruit, the object of the act is the fruit itself, and the presenter of this object (or the desire to experience it) is the snake. The outcome is always the same though, no matter how these symbols present themselves – the ability to reach the tree of life, to gain immortality, is rendered impossible.

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