Can Eve Be Considered a Femme Fatale?
In the Bible, Eve’s assumed identity as a femme fatale is widely debated, often with little thought given to the characteristics held by the common femme fatale. Although this argument is accepted by many, Eve’s reputation as an evil, conniving figure is widely misconstrued. With careful analysis of Genesis and the aspects that relate to these female icons, it can be concluded that Eve does not classify under the same category as a femme fatale.
The female archetype, which is a leading factor that determines a female’s status as a femme fatale, considers those with a negative archetype as a “female Monster” (Allen 9). Although Eve is recognized as manipulative in the Bible, it is not implied that Eve is a monster; her sin is simply one of curiosity. Her desire for knowledge is one that she assumes will benefit Adam and herself, not curse them both. The definition of the negative female archetype also states that a femme fatale seeks to conquer and kill the male hero, a behavior that Eve does not showcase (Allen 9). When Eve offers the fruit of the forbidden tree to Adam, her intention is not to bring him down in the eyes of God; it is only her childlike nature, wanting someone else to share the blame of her misdeed with.
Eve’s sexuality, the physical representation of her morality or lack thereof, is not thoroughly discussed in the Bible. It is implied that Eve is not even aware of her sexuality before she eats from the fruit of the forbidden tree, making it impossible for her to crave the title of femme fatale. Lack of sexual knowledge also affects Adam, therefore the two only engage in sexual activity to produce offspring. Even after Eve consumes the fruit, she does not pleasure herself in the seduction of Adam, but is instead ashamed of her nakedness; if she were a true femme fatale, she would find confidence in her body and use it to sexually manipulate him to his inevitable doom.
This narrative greatly contrasts from that of Cleopatra, Salome, and other femme fatales. Eve does not incite lust or intentionally possess the common physical characteristics such as lowered eyelids, erect posture, and a smouldering gaze (Allen 2). She also gives birth to two sons, Cain and Abel, which denounces the theory of Eve as a femme fatale due to her fertility. An important aspect of a femme fatale’s life is her inability to produce children, a trait that is seen as beneficial to her. The woman does not portray a nurturing attitude toward anyone and feels as though the burden of a child is one that she does not wish upon herself. Although Eve’s punishment from God damned her to desire only her husband, her motherly love is briefly exemplified in the Bible’s text. “…For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew” (The Holy Bible, Gen. 4.25). This passage shows that Eve gives love to her sons by the mourning that she feels for her second born that was slain.
If Eve holds the title of a femme fatale, it may give males a way to categorize women into a single narrative: their thinking being that if the first woman on Earth attempted to manipulate and destroy, all women must be out to accomplish the same goal. She can be seen as a symbol of disobedience and deviousness, but she is also the symbol of innocent human nature. Eve’s false classification as a femme fatale represents the theory that those who are in power must stay in control by twisting the words of the oppressed until they are believed to be inferior to others. Ultimately, classifying Eve as a femme fatale degrades her, blames her in full, and falsely rationalizes the actions of Adam as inevitable and acceptable.
Allen, Virginia M. The Femme Fatale Erotic Icon. The Whitston Publishing Company, 1983. Print.
The Holy Bible. Authorized King James Version, Thinline ed., Zondervan, 2009. Print.
© 2017 Ellei Kay