The story of Adam and Eve depicts the utopian Garden of Eden, and its eventual collapse. No other piece of utopian literature from this course explicitly shows how ignorance and a lack of knowledge are vital to the continuation of a utopia’s success quite as clearly as this one. It was only until Eve ate the forbidden fruit, representing the knowledge of good and evil, that the utopian Garden of Eden fell. Largely in utopian literature, knowledge is either denied or heavily regulated, and even this short excerpt from the Bible is no different.
In this story, the very first thing God says to Adam after creating him is in an effort to prevent him from acquiring knowledge. God says not to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge, however, God lies and says the fruit will kill him. This is very reminiscent of modern utopian literature in that not only does the ruler attempt to censor knowledge, but He is also lies about why Adam shouldn’t eat from the tree, to further thwart him from obtaining that knowledge.
Later on in the story, the serpent tricks Eve into eating the fruit from the tree, thus providing her with the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent says God lied to her because gaining knowledge would make her more like Him. This is important because with each utopia, there is always a hierarchy and uneven displacement of power. In order for those with the most power and control to remain in that position, they must ensure that everyone within the utopia remains powerless and/or ignorant. In Genesis, God tries to keep Adam and Eve ignorant and powerless by telling them that they will die if they attain any knowledge.
Upon finding that they have eaten the forbidden fruit, God recognizes that Adam and Eve are now His intellectual equals, as He says, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” Because of this, God banishes them from the Garden of Eden. This acts as a punishment for defying God’s rule, and is similar to Anthem, by Ayn Rand. In both texts, characters are endowed with knowledge and must immediately evacuate their utopias.
In nearly all utopian literature, ignorance is the preferred state for civilians. In Brave New World, civilians were drugged into a paradoxical apathetic complacency, deterring independent or critical thought. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Emmanuel Goldstein’s book explained how the Party could only be overthrown if all the proles became aware and educated. When knowledge is introduced to the people, the utopia opens itself up to fail. A lack of knowledge and freethinking is key, as each and every utopian-based piece of literature provides not a perfect world, but a very imperfect world; a dystopia in camouflage. In order to keep the illusion intact, the rulers must keep the people in a constant state of ignorance.