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Adam and Eve by Tony Hoagland

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    Power is the control over one’s self or another person or thing. In the poem “Adam and Eve” by Tony Hoagland a man and woman strived mentally for power over each other. Instead of having a happy and loving relationship that couples are “thought” to have, at the first sign of disagreement these two instantly worked against each other to have a personal gain of their own. In this poem, the speaker, Adam, and the woman, who is assumed to be Eve, struggle for power over one another to make themselves superior to one another.

    They use their reactions and emotions against each other to steal and regain power. In the beginning, the woman gained instant power the moment that she told Adam no. The speaker shows this when he writes two specific quotes “she held her milk-white hand agitatedly over the entrance to her body and said No, and my brain burst into flame” (Hoagland 14-15) and “ I wanted to punch her right in the mouth” (Hoagland 1). Most people can just get over rejection when they are told no but Eve withheld something that can drive many men crazy.

    She withheld sex from him. After they were both in the mood and both at their peaks, she simply told him no and this enraged him immediately. The rejection was her initial gain of power. The fact that after she told him no, he immediately became enraged with her and stated that he wanted to cause physical harm to her shows that she then gained power over him again. Her ability to reject him and then alter his mood allowed her to get all power from him. As the story continues the woman’s control of power intensifies by Adam’s confusion.

    After his initial rejection, Adam goes along throughout the poem questioning his self about what is taking place and how he should feel as well. “If I couldn’t sink myself in her like a dark spur or dissolve into her like a clod thrown in a river, can I go all the way in saying, and say I wanted to punch her right in the face? Am I allowed to say that?” (Hoagland 17-21) The moment that Adam began to question anything that he should or shouldn’t do, the woman again controlled all power.

    Saying and doing things as a reaction can result in giving someone power but not speaking can allow someone to have power as well. Although the woman starts off by having most of the power, Adam begins to gain his own. The quote, “Are some things better left unsaid?” shows the readers that sometimes it’s better off to just keep quiet. Blurting out the fact that he wants to hurt her would leave him having to back himself up and then that would just cause more tension. He would probably feel better if he did it but Adam wouldn’t win by actually doing it.

    By not blurting out that he wanted to punch the woman in her face left the woman thinking about what he was going to do after her rejection. She saw his instant anger but there was no retaliation and that left her puzzled and scared. By Adam not speaking on his premeditated thoughts left her wondering and him with the stolen power. Adam’s last power attempt was focused on us as the readers. He gained power from us by withholding information on who the woman was. “Shall I tell you her name?”.

    He could have simply told us but instead, he left us hanging on to the thought of who she could possibly be. Not telling us her name could have been him just being confused about what he should do. But I believe the main reason was that when you know someone’s name you then have a connection to them. You began to feel for them and no one wants you to feel for someone that they know they are about to punch in the face. By not telling us her name Adam left us wondering “Who is she”, and he then gained power. Power is a struggle between not just one’s self but as well as two people.

    When people get together as a couple, they struggle the most because they have a tendency to use these advantages of power for themselves and even against each other. No matter if they are agreeing or disagreeing someone has to always have one up over the other person. There is always going to be a struggle for power because neither can be on the same level. Although couples are supposed to be understanding and together as one if they are always trying to get ahead of the other then what’s the point of a relationship?

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    Adam and Eve by Tony Hoagland. (2016, Sep 07). Retrieved from

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