Lilith: Her Literary Portrait, Symbolism, and Significance

As a narrative, poetic, or dramatic theme, the legend of Lilith is a late development that occurs in the Talmud and is expanded by the Cabalists. Her significance is derived from the fact that she is seen as the first wife of Adam, created to be his helpmeet. When she is replaced by Eve in his affections, she emerges as his adversary, and is portrayed as demon, as Satan's partner. Lilith and Eve's relationship to Adam brings to light important psychological aspects pertaining to woman and love. Attracted by the exotic and the occult, the French Romantic writers, and several of those who followed them, depict Lilith as cruel, as the femme fatale, the incarnation of the mystery of the appeal of the flesh and of lover in their physical and spiritual dimensions. Their varying interpretations and portrayals of her, most often not based on first-hand knowledge of primary sources, personify man's romantic agony and inner conflict as an integral part of human nature, thus highlighting man's androgyny. This conclusion, which also rehabilitates woman in the twentieth century, links the nineteenth with the twentieth century. (SDB)

Braun, Sidney D
Volume 1982-1983 Fall-Winter; 11(1-1): 135-53.