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I recently read an article by WanderingWanda on here that briefly touched on the representation, either literal or metaphorical, of the Island as the Garden of Eden. This got my gears turning and I started to realize that there is a LOT of similarities between the two, intentional or not. Hence, I have decided to write up a comparison of the two based on passages from Genesis 2-3 in the Judeo-Christian Bible. Before I start though, I would like to briefly reference two books concerning the Garden.
First, C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, comprised of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Planet explores some similar topics as Lost. Keeping in the context of this article, I will focus on the second book, Perelandra. The main character, Elwin Ransom, travels to Venus where he discovers that it really isn't a planet covered in noxious fumes and intense heat, but instead a beautiful ocean world complete with only one island and one fixed landmass. Adam and Eve are permitted to step on the fixed landmass, but they are forbidden from dwelling there for no apparent reason.
Secondly, Milton's Paradise Lost "revisits" Eden in an interesting way.
- His far more pleasant Garden God ordain'd;
- Out of the fertile ground he caus'd to grow
- All Trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste
- And all amid them stood the Tree of life,
- High eminent, blooming Ambrosial Fruit
- Of vegetable Gold; and next to Life
- Our Death the Tree of Knowledge grew fast by
- Book III, lines 215-221
- From us no other service than to keep
- This one, this easy charge, of all the Trees
- In Paradise that bear delicious fruit
- So various, not to taste that only Tree
- Of Knowledge, planted by the Tree of Life,
- So near grows Death to Life, whate'er Death is,
- Some dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou know'st
- God hath pronounc't it death to taste that Tree,
- The only sign of our obedience left
- Among so many signs of power and rule
- Conferr'd upon us, and Dominion giv'n
- From their own mouths; all is not theirs it seems;
- One fatal Tree there stands of Knowledge call'd,
- Forbidden them to taste: Knowledge forbidd'n?
- Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
- Envy them that? can it be sin to know,
- Can it be death? and do they only stand
- By Ignorance, is that their happy state,
- The proof of their obedience and their faith?
- Book IV, lines 420-430, 513-520
- Satan involv'd in rising Mist, then sought 75
- Consider'd every Creature, which of all 84
- Most opportune might serve his Wiles, and found
- The Serpent, subtlest Beast of all the Field.
- Book V, lines 75, 84-86
Anyways, the whole point of the first reference is to show another author's representation on the Garden of Eden, while the second (pardon the Middle English, I copied it verbatim) has some interesting similarities to Lost. In the first passage, the Tree is likened to gold. It also says that death grew next to the Tree of Knowledge, similar to how Jack both woke up and died in the jungle not far from the Source. I found the second passage to be the most interesting. Rather than just frolicking in the garden freely, Adam and Eve are tasked with protecting the Tree from themselves. I like the line "So near grows death to life, whatever death is, some dreadful thing no doubt." It reminds me of the MiB's innocent look when he asks Mother what "dead" is. The only reason why they don't even think about eating of the Tree at first is because they have seen God's power and know it to be great - odds are He's telling the truth. The second part of that section is Satan thinking to himself. I can imagine that similar thoughts were running through the MiB's head. I included the final section because it describes Satan as taking on a form of Mist, kind of like the MiB taking on the form of the Smoke Monster. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Genesis Narrative (ESV)
|Gen. 2:9a - "And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food."||There never seems to be any lack of fruits, vegetables, or fish to sustain the survivors. The Island also had the capability of healing people, something we would expect to see in Paris.|
|Gen. 2:9b - "The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."||Both the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil were present in the center of Eden; the Source was present in the center of the Island.|
|Gen. 2:10 - "A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers."||A stream of water is seen flowing into the Source. Rousseau's map has three rivers clearly marked rather than four, but the fact is that there were rivers flowing through the land in both accounts.|
|Gen. 2:16-17 - "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.""||Jacob and his brother are commanded by Mother to never enter the Source, for to enter it would be worse than death. I think this clearly indicates that the Source is representative of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, or more succintly, Wisdom.|
|Gen. 3:1 - "Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made."||It could be said that Mother was more crafty than Claudia and those who came with her and that Jacob and his brother would also be equally crafty and cunning. Keep in mind that I'm not associating any of them with the Devil, merely noting similarities. If anything, I would say that the clearest representation of the serpent would be the apparition of Claudia that appears to Jacob's brother. Another interpretation could be that the men Jacob and his brother witness killing the boar are akin to the serpent. They are not the original inhabitants of the Island, they are not supposed to be there like Mother and the boys. It is the mere sight of them that causes Jacob's brother to question everything.|
|Gen. 3:4-5 - "But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."||The Claudia apparition leads Jacob's brother to believe that because Mother never told him who his real mother was, she is also lying about what would happen if one were to enter the Source. It could be said that Claudia was telling him that Mother didn't want him to enter the Source because then he would know who Mother really was and would pose a threat to her.|
|Gen. 3:6a - "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate"||Both Jacob and his brother saw that the Source was absolutely beautiful, tempting them to go in. However, Jacob does not enter the Source, rather his brother does.|
|Gen. 3:11 - "He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?""||God knew the answer to this question beforehand, by this statement He is giving Adam a chance to tell the truth. Mother knew about Jacob's brother's game beforehand. When she asked Jacob about it, she was giving him a chance to tell the truth.|
|Gen. 3:12 - "The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.""||Adam blamed Eve for making him eat the apple and ultimately unleashing evil. It could be said that Jacob blamed his brother for doubting Mother and for her death which would ultimately end in "evil" to be released. Another interpretation could be that Jacob's brother blamed Jacob for making him eat the apple.|
|Gen. 3:15a - "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring;"||There is a constant ongoing war between those who follow Jacob, and those who follow, even unintentionally, his brother.|
|Gen. 3:16a - " "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children."||It is extremely difficult for any mother to give birth on the Island. Perhaps before the whole incident, children could have easily been conceived and born.|
|Gen. 3:17 - "cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;"||Because of Jacob's mistake, he must suffer with the guilt of it for his entire life.|
|Gen. 3:19 - "till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.""||When Jacob dies, he turns into ash, which could be equated with dust.|
|Gen. 3:22 - " Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—""||This is quite a bit of speculation here, but if the Source could be considered to be representative of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, then perhaps the Tree of Life was still inside the Source? Maybe this is what is meant by the "light and the water". The light could be representative of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil while the water that of the Tree of Life. Of course, the water isn't literally the source of eternal life, but the Island, through Jacob, is able to grant agelessness to people. Some have called the pool in the Temple the "Fountain of Youth". The actual Fountain of Youth was also something that people spent forever looking for, but were never able to find, just like the Source.|
|Gen. 3:23-24 - "therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life."||Jacob's brother was cast out of the able-to-see-the-Source-club, toiling and laboring in the ground to get back to it. Unfortunately for him, Jacob stood in his way, blocking his path to the Source. It's interesting that multiple angels were sent to guard Eden. The protector of the Island was initially one individual, but more would have to follow.|
When the twins first see the Source, Mother tells them that men want to find the Source "because a little bit of this very same light is inside of every man. But they always want more." Jacob asks her if they can take it, to which she replies "If they tried they could put it out. And if the light goes out here... it goes out everywhere." My final conclusion as to what the Source represents is that it is the Source of Wisdom. Every man has some wisdom inside of him, some innate knowledge of what's right and wrong. But because we are creatures of curiosity, we want to know as much as we possibly can about something. For thousands of years, men have applied themselves to their skills, trying to learn more and more. Of course, this will never amount to even a fraction of what ultimate wisdom would be. If someone were capable of obtaining this wisdom, they would realize everything and too much power is never a good thing. The individual may have the wisdom of God, but they would still have the fallacies of man. Take, for example, King Solomon who was granted great wisdom. At first, it was great for him. But his human flaws led him downhill in the end.
Anyways, I hope that someone will find this an interesting read. I'm sure a lot of people are fed up with the whole religion topic in Lost, but I think that this is vital to an understanding behind some of the metaphysical things going on.