“The Garden Test” from Genesis Chapters 2-3, or the story of Adam and Eve, is one of the most iconic Bible stories. It is the story in Eve is tempted into eating from it by the serpent, before giving it to Adam, causing them to be banished by God from the Garden of Eden.
The motif of trees is abundant within this story, with trees filling the entire Garden of Eden, the tree of life, and of course the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The trees represent different things within the story, from just a source of food, to a source of knowledge and even immortality. This story shows how human nature always yearns for more knowledge and always seeks for more, regardless of how much they have, a common occurrence in literature which encourages characters to yearn for more. It also reflects to us how destructive this constant strive for more can be, often manifested in greed, and how there are consequences for such things seen in characters like Doctor Faustus and Roger Chillingworth. Trees provide figurative power in literature, empowering characters good or evil.
The motif of tree can be seen in romanticism, in stories such as Young Goodman Brown, in which the trees of the forest represented darkness and evil. It’s also shown in realism, in The White Heron for example, when Sylvia has climbed to the top of the tallest tree in the forest, she receives and epiphany and feels empowered. Lastly, it is seen in modernism, where the woman in The Great Gatsby sits under the white-plum tree, symbolizing purity and innocence, which is certainly satirical considering her relationship with the movie producer was nothing of the sort.