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Journey of the Magi

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Essay title: Journey of the Magi


Many are aware of the popular story from the Bible known as Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. As years have passed, such writers as John Milton and Margaret Atwood have written their own versions to this popular story called Paradise Lost and Quattrocento. Paradise Lost takes on a different angle where it speaks from Satan’s viewpoint, whereas Quattrocento takes on a different angle. The theme that Margaret Atwood tries to convey in this poem is that of misinformed bliss. We all know the Garden of Eden to be considered paradise that we were deprived of because of the first sin committed by Adam and Eve, but Atwood’s poem conveys this precious garden as something else entirely.

Atwood calls the Garden a “formal garden”. She attempts to depict the garden as a place of predictability. She claims that “everyone looks unhappy…there is no love here”. It’s difficult to believe that this wonderful paradise that God created for Adam and Eve could be considered as a place where they were unhappy. When she uses the term ‘love’, she is not talking about the affectionate love one feels for another. The love she means is that of freedom of will. Adam and Eve are apparently unhappy because their responsibilities were to “tend and care” (Genesis 2:15) for the Eden and its inhabitants. But of course, they were given the ‘freedom’ to “freely eat of any fruit in the garden, except fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). The ‘love’ that Atwood spoke of is not present. Although God claims that they have this ‘freedom’. The truth really is that they are not given free will to choose for themselves which fruit they chose to eat. God had set rules in place for them or else the penalty being death itself. God makes himself out to be a bit hypocritical because instead of allowing Adam and Eve to choose what they wanted, he set guidelines.

The structure of this poem helped for an easy read. Ideas were separated in stanzas and gave the reader a chance to read, analyze and decipher the text and move on after understanding the text. I found Atwood’s choice of words very interesting. They were very descriptive but still left room for the imagination to create their own images. In the last stanza when the snake speaks and says “the kingdom of god is within you because you ate it,” Atwood does not write God in upper case. I thought that this was one of the important parts in the poem. It would be very easy to overlook but I believe that it ties the whole poem together. By not writing God in upper case, it was as though Atwood was purposely trying to downgrade his status as the Almighty being. It is implied throughout the poem that perhaps heaven wasn’t this paradise after all. In the Bible it states that “the Lord God stationed mighty angelic beings to the east if Eden. And a flaming sword flashed back and forth, guarding the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24) In Atwood’s version, she claims that “even the angel who’s like a slab of flaming laundry, hovering up there with his sword of fire, unable as yet to strike.” She twists the Bible’s version a bit here to suit her purpose. She tries to depict

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