The Garden Test

The garden of Eden with the fall of man, by Jan Brueghel de Elder and Peter Paul Rubens

The garden of Eden with the fall of man *oil on panel *74.3 × 114.7 cm *signed b.l.: PETRI PAVLI RVBENS FIGR. *signed b.r.: IBRUEGHEL FEC *circa 1615

Gardens in the Bible serve as a symbolic setting in which an important test occurs, leading to an eventual loss of innocence. Gardens in the Bible are highly symbolic in and of themselves, as they were meant to represent the Garden of God, or Paradise. However, the most important garden in the Bible is the Garden of Eden“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed” (King James Bible, Genesis 2.8). It makes sense that the story of Adam and Eve is set in a garden, as gardens evince a sense of innocence and purity, making the loss of these things all the harsher. The first humans face an ultimate test, “Now 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?” (King James Bible, Genesis 3.1). In the Garden of Eden humans gain wisdom and knowledge but lose their innocence. Adam and Eve suffer a disconnect with God, forcing them out of the Garden. As a result of this story, the garden comes to symbolize innocence that will be lost, tests or trials, and disillusionment with a higher power.  As a result of the Garden of Eden, gardens are used in the Bible as symbolic settings of ephemeral paradise that will be ended by some sort of test.

  • The moss-covered tree in the Scarlet Letter where Hester and Dimmesdale meet to talk, discussing their relationship
  • Jackson Island in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn where Huck must come to accept Jim and break from his father
  • Gatsby’s garden parties in The Great Gatsby, especially when Daisy comes to Gatsby’s party and they attempt to talk privately but are unsuccessful until leaving the garden

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About annawilson17

Junior at Suffield Academy
This entry was posted in Becoming an American Literary Critic, Biblical Allusions, Biblical Allusions 2016, Honors English III. Bookmark the permalink.

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