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Garden of Eden

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"Here, mankind's root was innocent; and here
were every fruit and never-ending spring;
these streams—the nectar of which poets sing."
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The Garden of Eden is a location in the Abrahamic Creation Myth. According to the Book of Genesis, it was a mythical paradise created by God, which he tasked the primordial man Adam to guard. Adam and his companion, Eve, were free to eat from any tree except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, they were tempted by the serpent into eating the tree's fruit (depicted as a Tempting Apple most of the time). Because of this defiance, the pair was thus expelled from the garden, essentially damning their descendants to burdened lives.

Because of its prominence in the Fall of Man, the garden's imagery lives on in many works of fiction as a symbol of temptation, the folly of man, and paradise lost. A beautiful, idyllic, sinless paradise can bear the garden's name. It can kick out its inhabitants if they break the rules, or it can be corrupted by humankind. More cynical works will see Eden as a restrictive place where man was not free to learn. Some works are subtle allegories to the Biblical legend, while others cherrypick the imagery (the serpent, the Tree, the Tempting Apple, etc.) without it necessarily meaning anything. This page covers all allusions to the legend.

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In speculative fiction, Adam And Eve Plots may pair this with a New Eden.

Compare Adam and/or Eve and Forbidden Fruit. Subtrope of Biblical Motifs. See also other famous settings and events from Genesis that have their own pages — Creation Myth, the Tower of Babel, The Great Flood. Contrast Garden of Evil. See also The Promised Land, another purported ideal land from the Old Testament.


Examples:

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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Pleasantville utilizes Adam-and-Eve/Eden symbolism a couple times. The titular location is an innocent 1950's town that loses its innocence; in one scene, Margaret tempts Bud into eating a red apple, alluding to the myth.
  • In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the Garden of Eden, along with the Klingon Qui'Tu and the Romulan Vorta Vor, is conflated with the Vulcan creation myth of Sha Ka Ree, a location from which all life originates and man's questions could be answered.

    Literature 
  • East of Eden and its film adaptations, in addition to referencing the Garden in the title, has a plot that parallels the story of Genesis. The book follows a guy named Adam, who starts a family with Cathy on the best ranch in Salinas, California. Cathy is an evil temptress and a parallel to Eve, who later leaves the garden (the ranch) to pursue various sinful ways. Adam has two sons, Cal and Aron, whose names and relationship parallels Cain and Abel.
  • Ernest Hemingway's The Garden Of Eden, despite not featuring any Biblical characters, uses this motif to describe David and Catherine's marriage. While their honeymoon is initially idyllic, the cracks begin to show early on and the ending implies that they will stay separate, mirroring Adam and Eve's happiness in the Garden before everything went down.
  • In Shadow of the Hegemon, Petra considers Achilles, a brilliant student who wound up a murderous conqueror, and compares it to Eve's temptation by the serpent.
    Petra's narration: She remembered the story from her childhood, about Adam and Eve in the garden, and the talking snake. Even as a little girl she had said - to the consternation of her family - What kind of idiot was Eve, to believe a snake? But now she understood, for she had heard the voice of the snake and had watched as a wise and powerful man had fallen under its spell. Eat the fruit and you can have the desires of your heart. It's not evil, it's noble and good. You'll be praised for it. And it's delicious.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017): "The End", which is set on a beautiful, isolated island, twists the motif.
    • Ishmael, who in this adaptation looks like a Grandpa God with his long pale robes and white hair and beard, is keeping knowledge from the islanders sequestered away on a prominent tree on the other side of the island.
    • The Incredibly Deadly Viper later offers the protagonists an apple that cures them of the deadly fungus they're infected with.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • The name "Eden" pops up in the episode "The Way to Eden", which is about a group of space hippies searching for the mythical paradise Eden. It turns out to be a False Utopia.
    • The Garden is also referenced in the episode "The Apple", where a race of innocent humanoids serve a "god", Vaal, a computer shaped like a serpent head. After Kirk and company save the day and destroy the false god, the knowledge of good and evil is then known by the inhabitants. Spock makes a reference and Kirk asks if there is anyone onboard who remotely resembles Satan.
      Spock: No-one to my knowledge.
    • According to Chekov, the Garden was located just outside Moscow.

    Music 
  • Woody Guthrie's "Do Re Mi", about the Oakies, discusses the contrast between the migrants' idealized views of California and the harsh treatment they received when they got there. The chorus includes the lines: "California is a Garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see". But rather than being cast out of the paradise due to their sin, the migrants are cast out due to lack of money.
  • Sara Bareilles's "Eden" is naturally rife with allusions to the garden. The singer tells of a good life in "Eden", once lived before a serpent took it away from her.
  • The singer of Bob Dylan's "The Gates of Eden" views the concept of Eden very cynically, ironically comparing it to his own life and the state of the world.
  • "New Eden" by Vision Divine is about a god-like figure angry at the inhabitants of Eden for breaking his rules.
    "This is the Eden I made out for you,
    You'd blow it out breaking rules..."

    Theater 
  • Hamlet: In keeping with the consistent imagery of snakes and gardens, the Ghost compares the murder of Hamlet's father by Claudius (and, broadly, the corruption of the Danish court) to a ruined Eden.
    "Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
    A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark
    Is by a forged process of my death
    Rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth,
    The serpent that did sting thy father's life
    Now wears his crown."

    Webcomics 
  • Sandra and Woo presents a fresh take on the imagery: when Woo encounters the tree of knowledge, he doesn't care about the fruit on it, instead opting to eat the serpent.
  • Sister Claire: Years ago, Clementine founded a city called Eden, a refuge for Witches during the war. Clementine's council, The Garden of Delights (GOD), oversaw the city.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, when Torg and Aylee are staying in another dimension while the media coverage of the latter dies down, the locals have a number of mountain-based gardens, the largest of which is named Eden.

    Video Games 
  • The fourth level of Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp is set in the Garden of Eden, where Dirk has to deal with cherub guardians; not one but two serpents (one wants to eat him, the other tricks him into giving Eve the apple); a rather portly Eve who has taken a liking to him; and the literal fall of Eden, which is floating in the sky until Eve bites the apple, upon which the entire garden plummets to the ground.
  • The Big Bad of Fallout 3 chooses the name "Eden", fitting their goal of trying to create a paradise no matter the cost.
  • The Talos Principle is a Whole Plot Reference to the Garden of Eden story, starring robots and artificial intelligences torn by allegiance to Elohim (God) and temptation by Milton (the serpent).
  • Civilization: Call to Power: The Eden Project wonder destroys the three most polluting cities in the world, leaving unspoiled countryside where they stood.

    Real Life 
  • Cornwall has the Eden Project, two biomes that house plants from all over the world.
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