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Eve’s Diary Summary

Summary and Analysis of Eve’s Diary by Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s hilarious short story, “Eve’s Diary” was published in 1905 in the Christmas issue of the magazine Harper’s Bazaar, and was also a part of a volume named Their Husband’s Wives. The story is written as a collection of diary entries by Eve in the first-person narrative.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, commonly known by his pen name, Mark Twain, is arguably one of the greatest American novelists of all time, his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn being a fundamental presence in virtually all reading lists of children’s literature in America and beyond.


Eve’s Diary | Summary

The diary begins on a Saturday a day after Eve’s creation by God. She begins recording her days in the diary as she has some instinct that tells her that “these details are going to be important to the historian some day.” She considers herself an experiment and nothing more. She is not the entirety of the experiment, though, but only a part of it, ‘the main part’, according to her. However, she is aware of her role as a caretaker and nurturer of the rest of God’s Creation, the natural and the animal world, as “vigilance is the price of supremacy.”

Eve describes the world undergoing the act of Creation with God actively creating life and beauty all around. There are slight imperfections somewhere that can easily be rectified. Eve informs that the moon accidentally escaped its place the previous night, which saddens her as she is extremely fond of gazing at its beauty. She is certain, however, that the ones who found it would never return it, as she would not have herself had she been in their position. This reflects her honesty and self-awareness. She wishes to have at least five or six moons, and put stars in her hair. But she knows that it is impossible because of the great distance they are at; she has tried multiple times to catch them and has failed. Too tired to go back home, she sleeps nestled amongst tigers who live on strawberries. Despite never having seen one before, Eve is instinctively aware that the striped animal before her is a tiger. She confesses having a weakness for pretty things but has difficulty grabbing them due to her inexperience in judging distance. She also comes up with a new axiom, “The scratched experiment shuns the thorn”.

Eve then encounters Adam, whom she calls “the other Experiment”, and follows him around all day, more curious about this man than other reptiles since she places him in the category of one. Initially afraid of getting caught, she keeps growing bolder and follows him openly, scaring him into climbing a tree. She is annoyed at Adam resting up on a tree all day, and wonders if he ever does anything else. She also writes delightedly that contrary to her previous expectation, the ones who got the moon returned it, surprising Eve with their kindness and honesty. Eve wants to show her appreciation but s annoyed by Adam’s lack of enthusiasm or initiative. She considers him low, crude, and unkind, horrified at his attempts to catch fish before she shoos him away, disgusting her with his lack of compassion for the tiny fishes. However, his use of language thrills her as she has never heard anybody speaking other than her. This rekindles her interest in him as she loves to talk.

Throughout the next week, she tries to hang out with him, making most of the conversation as Adam is shy. As they spend time together, Adam appears more comfortable in Eve’s presence, while she constantly tries to “be useful to him” to increase his regard for her. She spends her time naming every new species that are being created, having taken this responsibility over from Adam who is not good at it. Unlike him, Eve has an intuitive connection with nature and animals that helps her name them accurately the minute she sees them. Adam admires her ability which flatters and delights her. The next Thursday however, Adam keeps avoiding her without an explanation, leaving her confused and lonely as she is beginning to fall in love with him. When she goes to see him and clarify things, he ignores her, causing her to experience sorrow for the very first time.

Happiness returns in the next few days, and she spends her days eating apples despite Adam’s warning that they are forbidden and may harm her. However, Eve is desperately in love with him and ignores the possibility of danger to please him. She tells him her name, but it doesn’t elicit a response, hurting her feelings. She perceives his reticence which makes her think of him as unintelligent and sensitive about his lacking. However, she considers values contained within the heart to be the most important virtue. Disappointed by his lack of enthusiasm in her name, she sits on the bank of a stream, her reflection driving her loneliness away. In her innocence, she is unaware of the fact that the white body in the mirror is her reflection, and considers it her sister. As a reflection, she sometimes disappears, initially scaring Eve who thought that she has lost her. With time, however, she understands that ‘her sister’, her only source of comfort in loneliness and grief, will return. She is hurt and irritated when Adam does not appreciate her attempts to decorate herself with flowers. She does not value the natural world and thinks that it is a mark of human superiority, an attitude that Eve mocks.

One day she accidentally discovers fire and is intrigued by it, letting it burn down a significant portion of the land around her. As she marvels at the destructive, sublime beauty of the fire around her, she hopes that someday it would be put to use. As always, Adam is unable to identify it and has to ask her for an answer, evidently irritated about his lack of knowledge compared to hers. The next few days he is distant, one of the reasons for this being Eve’s repeated warnings regarding going to the fall. Ever since the fire, she has discovered the emotion of fear and tries to prevent Adam from going anywhere that scares her. Adam however, not having discovered this emotion yet, does not understand.

The next part of the story is a brief excerpt from “Adam’s Diary’ with him being the narrator. His description of Eve is extremely evocative and supposedly accurate –

 “She is all interest, eagerness, vivacity, the world is to her a charm, a wonder, a mystery, a joy; she can’t speak for delight when she finds a new flower, she must pet it and caress it and smell it and talk to it, and pour out endearing names upon it.”


Additionally, she finds colors exciting and intriguing, her fascination with them irritating Adam. He would prefer her to be quieter and more stable, allowing him to look at her and admire her beauty. He notes her interest in every animal she encounters, even the ones he is indifferent towards. Her antics range from trying to make a pet out of a brontosaurus and using a colossus as a bridge. He confesses that her curious, questioning spirit attracts and influences him. He also notes that animals are drawn to her like they share an instinctive affinity towards her as she does to them.

The narrative shifts back to Eve’s perspective again, depicting her spending time amongst nature and traveling with animals to escape the loneliness that comes from the unwelcome treatment that she receives from Adam. The animals all talk to her, and some are even able to understand her even though she can’t understand their language. This makes her ashamed of her inadequacy and as the “principal experiment”, she resolves to learn to communicate with them. She has a scientific temperament, preferring to test out theories and hypotheses instead of just coming up with one. She gathers considerable knowledge about the natural world through her experimentations. She believes the purpose of her existence is to be of finding out all the secrets hidden in the world, and be grateful to God for his Creation. Knowledge excites her, and she loves excitement.

The next part is a sudden transition to the postlapsarian life of Adam and Eve, with the entry titled, “After the Fall”. Eve misses the garden of Eden and its breathtaking, enchanting beauty and purity, but on Earth, she has Adam and is content with their love for each other. She loves him not for any of the other desirable qualities that she admires, his strength, his handsomeness, his chivalry, or graciousness. She understands that love is not rational, and her love is primarily an attraction of her sex to the only existing member of the opposite sex. She loves him because he is hers, and he is masculine, complimenting her femininity.

The final entry in the diary is titled “Forty Years Later”, where a dying Eve prays that she and her beloved husband may welcome death together. This prayer, this longing will last till the time that love exists between a man and a woman, and it shall be named after her. However, realizing that one of them has to die first, she chooses to die before Adam as she thinks she is weaker and needs him more than he needs her, making her life meaningless without him.

At her grave, Adam inscribes, “Wheresoever she was, THERE was Eden.”.

Eve’s Diary | Analysis

The story is written in simple, yet extremely beautiful and evocative language, exemplifying the use of imagery to construct the visual world vividly and beautifully. A reversal of the Creation myth which places Adam at the center of the universe, here it is Eve who is the “principal experiment”. She is intellectually, emotionally, and intuitively superior to Adam who is neither curious nor knowledgeable of the world around him.

Eve also has a natural affinity and an instinctive connection with nature and animals, instantly recognizing what she is seeing even if she is seeing it for the very first time. This knowledge appears to escape Adam, which Eve views as his “defect”, one that she does not share. This is a comic feminist reversal of the story of Creation which views Eve as the defective/lacking one owing to the absence of a phallus in her body. She is curious, interested, and full of childlike innocence and wonder, excited about the smallest things earning only indifference from Adam.

Adam has a utilitarian approach to the world and has no curiosity to speak of, his interest limited to things that he deems as useful and practical. Unlike Eve, he is also not sensitive to emotions and does not appear to have a sense of empathy, both of which are very developed in Eve. She also has a scientific temperament that thrives on testing and experimentation, another characteristic that Adam lacks. While he adopts a condescending, paternalistic attitude towards her in the very small excerpt in his diary, the overall story definitely portrays Eve as the one who is intellectually, morally, and emotionally superior to Adam, reversing the myth of Creation.

It is interesting to note there is barely any mention of God and the Fall throughout the story, the former featuring only once as the “giver” while the latter is only mentioned in the subsection titled “After the Fall”. Moreover, her action of eating apples and her insatiable curiosity and drive for knowledge both foreshadow the climactic act of her consuming the forbidden fruit, leading to the fall. However, her portrayal in this story takes a different position than most conventional accounts of the Fall, by explaining her action not as a consequence of lust, greed and lack of self-restraint, but of curiosity and a relentless pursuit of knowledge, epitomizing the fundamental values of science. The fact that she also identifies herself through scientific jargon i.e., “The Experiment” and not through a theological one, i.e., “The Creation”, strengthens the scientific temperament of Eve.

The story also explores the idea of self-discovery and self-exploration through Eve gaining new information about her own emotions, reactions, and nature with every passing day. Unsurprisingly, all her discoveries happen before Adam, who had been created earlier than her, implying her intellectual superiority again. The love between her and him is not rational but founded upon the natural, mutual attraction between the sexes. The strength and passion of her love seems to overpower Adam’s often enough.

The final entry is unbelievably moving in its beauty and emotional depth, as well as its portrayal of a woman’s love that prays and longs for eternal togetherness and companionship, but would rather sacrifice herself first than live in a world without her partner. The epitaph on Eve’s grave, written by Adam, is self-explanatory in brevity and beauty, Mark Twain showing his mastery over the evocative intensity of language through just the use of six simple words – “Wheresoever she was, THERE was Eden.”, symbolizing that it is she who, with her purity, innocence, and perfection, made Eden what it was.





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