An Unconvincing Apology: Comparison of Genesis.

Essay by jdmUniversity, Bachelor's October 2003

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The book of Genesis portrays the story of The Fall in simple terms. Adam is created (Gen. 1.26-27, Gen. 2.7); Adam is told not to eat from the tree of knowledge (Gen. 2.17); Eve is created for Adam (Gen. 1.27, Gen 2.22); the serpent tempts the pair to eat from the tree of knowledge (Gen. 3.1-6); Eve eats from the tree and gives some to Adam (Gen. 3.6); both are punished and cast from paradise for their disobedience (Gen. 3.16-24); Eve is blamed original sin (Gen. 3.12,17). Genesis gives neither character depth nor individuality. Adam is merely the first man; and Eve is his companion: neither is strong nor weak and neither is good nor bad. Despite this, Genesis' picture of The Fall clearly lays blame on the corruptible and sinful Eve alone and allows for Adam and, in time, the rest of mankind (Gen. 3.17) to blame her as well.

In her poem Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, Aemilia Lanyer, takes this basic story and amends both the characters as well as the conclusion. Lanyer takes the blame from Eve and places it on Adam. To facilitate this development, Lanyer recharacterizes Eve as the foolish and weak attendant, and Adam as the clever and influential leader.

Lanyer uses two methods to excuse Eve from blame: her desire for knowledge and her prevailing weakness. She gives Eve a want for the knowledge from the tree. As Lanyer points out in line 797, "If Eve did erre, it was for knowledge sake," (Lanyer in Woods 797), Eve's error intended no wickedness, only a want to grow. This trait is, like her weak tendencies, not an effective apology. It is an uninspired attempt to contrast her with the unenlightened Adam. Lanyer does not give Eve any strength in her argument and, in fact...