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Fear and Loneliness

Mark Twain’s Adam and Eve is a ‘love story’ that follows the traditional dance of attraction, romance, and ultimate long-term commitment. Along the way, Twain guides us through the familiar ups and downs of the eternal struggle to understand one another, but most of all ourselves.

In the first scene of Act One, Eve is alone in the Garden of Eden, not without a certain confidence given the fact that she is the first human on Earth. Or so she thinks. From the beginning, Eve is examining everything she sees, criticizing aspects of the natural world that confound her, making quick judgements, while gently exploring her own identity. She realizes History (or Her-story) is being made. Enter Adam in Scene Two, where he is soon irritated by Eve’s persistent curiosity. They quickly find each other to be both interesting and annoying. Adam is a bit aloof, somewhat verbally ‘challenged’, and is seemingly interested only in the perfunctory details of life.

In these beginning scenes, we see Adam and Eve engaging in the early stages of a developing relationship. Along the way, Twain has Eve naming everything, an interesting evolutionary twist. In later scenes, Eve discovers fire, and experiences fear and loneliness when Adam appears to have abandoned her (‘My First Sorrow’). In the final scene of Act One, Eve becomes friends with the animals as a means of soothing her frustration and disappointment with Adam. Adam disapproves.

Mark Twain has a field-day in Act Two examining our relationship to education, ignorance, and knowledge in The Tree of Knowledge scene. In The Fall scene, Eve looks back on the Garden and finds it has vanished. ‘The Garden is Lost, but I have found him, and am content.’ she reflects.

While the drama is centered on Eve in much of Act One, Adam plays a more dominant role in Act Two. Adam can’t figure out at first where Cain and Abel came from. He is alternately infatuated with Eve, and frustrated with things about her he can’t understand or doesn’t approve of. The final two scenes, which Adam and Eve share, are touching examples of a passionate and tested love that has reached a higher level of affection and ultimate commitment.

J. H.