Title

Words Devilish and Divine: Eve as Speaker in Genesis B

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1997

Keywords

Women, poetry, minority and ethnic groups, literary criticism, language

Abstract

This essay argues that the Old English Genesis B is textured by a linguistic density that allows conflicting ideological concerns to come into play simultaneously, resulting in a re-evaluation of the deeply masculinist Christian hierarchy that lies at the heart of the Fall story. This perspective explicitly challenges a traditional symbolism that limits Eve to the "senses" and privileges Adam as "reason," and counters the many analyses of Genesis B that uphold such categories, perpetuating a characterization of Eve as weak, innately sinful, and inferior to Adam. what has often been noticed as the psychological realism of the poem applies not only to its portrayal of the anguish of choice, but works as well to dismantle static, deeply gendered interpretations. By reading closely what seem to be the poet's deliberate efforts to juxtapose "thick," ambiguous verbal situations with speeches of simplicity and clarity spoken by Eve, I suggest that Eve emerges here as a woman of intelligence and personal responsibility, one who demonstrates both honesty and intellectual and spiritual freedom.

Published In

Neophilologus

Volume

81

Issue

4

Pages

609-623

DOI

10.1023/A:1004276901151