By Catherine Kelly, Music Wright
Let’s talk about Eve. We’re fairly familiar with her story, right? She was Adam’s beloved partner in the Garden of Eden, the Paradise that God made expressly for his most treasured creation, humanity. You know, Adam and Eve. That Eve.
Before joining the cast of Paradise Lost, I felt like I had a decent grasp of the Creation story and what Eve contributed. She was the first woman, Adam’s wife, the mother of humankind. I did some background reading on John Milton’s interpretation of Eve in Paradise Lost, and he seemed to depict her as kind of ethereal yet earthy, naive yet clever. I could certainly visualize that. As I continued reading, however, I came across some less flattering characteristics that Milton seemed to give his Eve: vain, impulsive, cunning. Was that true? In rehearsals, I looked for moments when Eve’s personality flaws began to show, and I started to see her story in an entirely new light. Sure, it wasn’t difficult for the Serpent to charm Eve into tasting the forbidden fruit, but to me, it seemed that Eve got a lot of undeserved flack and an unnecessary amount of blame for the fall of humanity. Yes, she played a crucial part in the whole ordeal. But can we blame her?
Eve wasn’t infallible, and she certainly wasn’t blameless. But she had a streak of independence and a desire for experience that, I believe, many of us can understand. She had a yearning to know deeper feeling and deeper love. She was unafraid of death; in fact, she was willing to die if it meant she could experience life more fully. My understanding of Eve has grown from that of distant respect for a mother-figure to that of admiration for the ideals that made her–in short–beautifully complex and absolutely human. And in a sense, that feels so wonderfully comforting. I suppose Eve should be held accountable for her poor decisions, as we all should; but I don’t think we can rightfully ignore the heroine in her. I’ve grown to love all aspects of Eve’s character: flaws and all.