“Eve’s Diary,” written by Mark Twain, is a first-person narrative of Eve, the first woman according to Judeo-Christian belief. Through her innocence and curiosity, she learns about the world around her. Eve’s introspective diary entries give an intimate understanding of her character and journey through hardship and ultimately love. Throughout “Eve’s Diary” two contrasting views of love are developed: innocent love represented by Eve’s admiration of nature, and complex love, represented by her relationship with Adam. These two contrasting views of love contribute to the theme that love between humans is a dynamic, subjective, and personal experience.
Eve’s first diary entry is fittingly the day after her “arrival” to the Garden of Eden. She is able to articulate her thoughts with a mastery of language while expressing her ultimate innocence, being quite literally born yesterday. This blend of expressive ability and purity is unique to this story. On Eve’s first day in the Garden she expresses how she spent the afternoon watching bees, butterflies, and flowers in their natural place (Twain para. 31). Eve is so enthralled with the natural world that insects and flowers are enough to keep her entertained throughout the afternoon. Throughout the story Eve’s love of the natural world is depicted as one-dimensional and static. The early entries of Eve’s diary effectively display the love she feels towards nature by highlighting her innocence and curiosity at her surroundings.
In Eve’s first diary entry the reader is introduced to Adam, whom Eve describes as the other “experiment.” Eve gravitates towards Adam in the same way that she does towards nature, but the outcome is different. Eve recalls that “By and by I found it was only trying to get away, so after that I was not timid any more, but tracked it along, several hours, about twenty yards behind, which made it nervous and unhappy” (Twain para. 9). Even in their first encounter Adam provides a challenge to the notion of love that Eve has developed. Eventually Eve discovers Adam’s interests and shortcomings, which give her a greater understanding of his character and indicates that the relationship will continue in the same fashion as Eve’s relationship with nature: static. This indication is shattered when Eve informs the reader of “my first sorrow. Yesterday he avoided me and seemed to wish I would not talk to him… and my heart was very sore. I did not know why very clearly, for it was a new feeling; I had not experienced it before, and it was all a mystery, and I could not make it out” (Twain para. 19). Twain usurps the reader’s expectation of how the relationship will develop by allowing Eve’s innocent character to experience emotional pain for the first time. The flipped perspective that experts from Adam’s diary provide gives the reader insights into his character. Adam states that “none of the [colorful objects] is of any practical value, so far as I can see, but because they have color and majesty, that is enough for her, and she loses her mind over them. If she could quiet down and keep still a couple minutes at a time, it would be a reposeful spectacle” (Twain para. 48). Adam’s perspective enlightens the reader to the shortcomings of both characters and that the rift between them is caused by a failure to communicate. Through Twain’s purposeful use of both characters’ diaries he presents to the reader the personal shortcomings of Adam and Eve and provides an explanation to why innocent love is not applicable to their relationship.
The section entitled “After the Fall” catalogs Eve’s diary after leaving Eden with Adam. Eve reflects on why she loves Adam and how this love is different from others she has experienced. This is best articulated when she states “If I ask myself why I love him, I find I do not know, and do not really much care to know; so I suppose that this kind of love is not a product of reasoning and statistics, like one’s love for other reptiles and animals.” (Twain para. 68) Eve’s reflection on her relationship expresses how love between humans can be messy and complex. Compromise and understanding are necessary for Eve and Adam to coexist in the irrational love they have developed for one another. Through introducing the reader to Eve’s personal thoughts, the complexity of human nature is exposed as a limiting factor in human love.
Throughout “Eve’s Diary” the theme of contrasting love is develo
ped. One static view of love is represented by Eve’s admiration of the natural world, and a more complex view of love is developed through her relationship with Adam. Twain achieves these two contrasting views of love by carefully constructing Eve’s diary as her personal, introspective journey. Imagery is used to express Eve’s innocent love of nature, and her innocent love is used in conjunction with reflection, comparison, and excepts from Adam’s diary to convey Eve’s complex love towards Adam. This story expresses a subjective view that love is a unique and personal connection between an individual and the subject of their love. This connection articulates the difference in an individual’s love for the natural world, which is based on the material, and an individual’s love with another, which is intangible and sometimes illogical.
Twain, Mark. “Eve’s Diary.” Sakai, ENGL 105.050.SP20, posted by Paul Blom, 18 March
- Originally published in Harper’s Magazine, Christmas 1905.