Eve and the Serpent: A Re-telling in The Shape of Water

Kristen Leer, “Eve and the Serpent: A Re-telling in The Shape of Water
Mentor: Jacqueline Stuhmiller, Honors College

Despite the book of Genesis being introduced to Western society thousands of years ago, it remains a monumental cultural influence within our contemporary society. More specifically, the narrative within Genesis of Eve and the serpent is still modernized for today’s audience. The relationship between these two figures have been debated for centuries, but an area that hasn’t been fully explored is the intimate relationship that Eve and the serpent are theorized to have. Eve is the representation of women and the serpent represents animals. It is through the serpent that Eve not only is recognized, as the serpent is the first to speak with her, but who gives her a sense of agency – to gain knowledge. Eve does not get this sense of agency with God or Adam, who is the archetype for man. This dynamic that Eve and the serpent share is recognized to be dangerous, for God steps in and severs the relationship between these two – inhibiting their communication from existing. Though Eve and the serpent – woman and animal – cannot speak to each other, vocally, ritual practices (ex. Li Grand Zombi), folktales (ex. a Chinese folktale “The Goddess of the Silkworm”), and contemporary adaptations (ex. Bear by Marian Engel) depict their union physically. A contemporary film to explore the relationship in this capacity is the 2017 Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water. The film not only sparked media attention because of the film’s quality, but discussion arose about the role of women and animals in response to the intimate relationship the protagonist, Elisa, has with the amphibian humanoid, the creature. I argue that this film is a re-meeting of “Eve” and the “serpent” after their separation by God. Furthermore, this film allows us to examine how intimate depictions of Eve and the serpent exist.


  1. I enjoyed your project and learned a lot from it. It was well organized and clearly presented, with effective images. One suggestion for refinement: it’s standard in religious studies to talk about the “Hebrew Bible” instead of the “Old Testament.” Good work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.