Innocence and Experience College
The Book of Genesis establishes the archetypal tale of the fall, and through it, develops the literary significance of a fall. In Genesis, the characters Adam and Eve are banished from paradise due to the seizure of knowledge. The fall they experience refers to their condemnation to a world in which they recognize pain and suffering, apart from their existence in the idyllic Garden of Eden. The concept of a fall is rather vague and lends itself to many stories and interpretations. The idea of a fall is not new, nor, in modern literature, original. Authors use the theme to explore human nature, and the implications of the term itself, through the shift of associations in narration and language. A fall is generally construed as a loss of innocence. This may represent a movement towards maturity or a gain of knowledge, and may be expressed as a change that is either detrimental or beneficial. One such reinterpretation is Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. James’ fictional children come to understand their environment through their loss of innocence, which draws a parallel to Eve’s consumption of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge because it results in a furtherance of knowledge and an expanded perspective.
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