Gender Ideology in ‘The Diary of Adam and Eve’ by Mark Twain

Paramita Ayuningtyas, S.Hum., M.Hum.
Department of English, Faculty of Language and Culture, Bina Nusantara University

                               Kemanggisan Ilir III No. 45, Palmerah, West Jakarta, 11480

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After analyzing the image of Adam and Eve, next I am going to study further about gender
ideology behind The Diary of Adam and Eve by seeing the context when it was written. Through Eve,
it can be seen how Twain made an effort to break the gender boundary by giving some ‘masculine’
traits to her. She is depicted as a woman who has the brain and the voice. However, it does not mean
that this new interpretation is clean from patriarchal values that reduce women with feminine attributes
(that are considered inferior). All of Eve’s potentials are used for Adam’s sake. She also tries to gain
respect from Adam, which directly means she considers Adam as someone superior. I read this as the
representation of women whose existence needs an approval from men. Compared with Eve’s
ambiguous and complex characterization, Adam looks stereotypically masculine from his independent,
pragmatic and cold attitude. The Diary of Adam and Eve has given a new version of the figures of
Adam and Eve, but Twain’s description about the two characters is still not free from patriarchal
values that put men on the top of the hierarchy. It is related with the social order when the novel was
written.

As written by Budianta, literature also constructs, deconstructs and reconstructs ideology
(Budianta, 1998: 8). To paraphrase, a work of literature cannot be taken from its social context. In
sociology of literature, sometimes an author (consciously or not) cannot be independent from the
values of society in which he/she lives. Based on that statement, I am going to see how social context
takes a part in constructing the characters of Adam and Eve.
Twain started writing Extract from Adam’s Diary in 1893 and Eve’s Diary in 1903. During the
era, the conservative Victorian values still existed in English society and in American society as well,
although in different levels. Even though in early 20th century women were already allowed to go to
college and to work outside, gender discrimination still could be found in society. Women (and also
children) had to work for twelve hours in factories with a bad condition. In law, rules made by men
still placed women in the inferior position. Women were allowed to vote in 1920, years and years after
the independence of America. This gender injustice could exist because of patriarchal norms that
consider men more competent than women in every aspect of life.
In traditional societies, men are the breadwinners, while women take care of the house and the
children. This role division is based on the popular opinion that men are more active and stronger so
that they can manage the public life, while women with all of their weaknesses are spatially limited in
their domestic world. This division also appears in The Diary of Adam and Eve, especially when
Adam and Eve fall from paradise. As a man, Adam does his task as a breadwinner by hunting. Eve
who confesses as Adam’s wife (even though Adam never says that he is Eve’s husband) does her
domestic chores, to babysit Cain and Abel. In textual level, the world of Adam and Eve should have
been clean from patriarchal-minded society, yet this sex-based role division is already there. In other
words, Twain still believed that as something natural and it does not need any reconstruction or
deconstruction.
Besides the content, the form of the diary can also be analyzed to find the patriarchal gender
ideology behind it. In Adam’s diary, there are four passages about the downfall of humankind from
paradise, including the event when Eve eats the fruit. It is when they finally realize their nudity and
start to feel awkward in front of each other:

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