By Rhianon Floyd, Megan Cortes, Brenna McGownMost people envision a garden as a place rich in flowers and vegetation. They see it as a supply of an individual's need of comfort and/or the domestic needs such as food. However, gardens serve a much stronger role than this in literature. They are used as a common allusion to create imagery, convey feelings, or represent meaning.

Significance of Gardens:

The garden's significance has evolved through-out the ages allotting it multiple meaning such as innocence, beauty, life, peace, healing, a place of serenity and holiness, even longing, fertility, love, relaxation, harmony, longevity, secrecy, and sometimes the ability to escape the harsh corrupt world of cities, factories, and people. They have become a type of paradise that people try to achieve or get to. Gardens have been seen since the bible and even make appearances in modern literature such as Alice in Wonderland.

Gardens in Literature:

Romance of the Rose by Guillame de Lorris. Set in Medieval France this story shows an enamored suitor attempting to woo his maiden inside a walled garden. The interior of the garden represents romance while the exterior represents everyday life. This adds a mystical quality to the walled garden.
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Rappaccinis Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This story is another of an enamored suitor, however this time the suitor ison the outside of a walled garden while his love is within. Her garden however,is poisinous and the poison seeped into her body making her poisinous too. When the suitor discovers this he recoils from her but she encourages him to see past the exterior to her pure and innocent essence. Her pleading retains his love, and he gives her a poweful antidote which ends up killing her, and himself getting poisoned in the process. Hawthorne may have adapted this book from a similar indian tale, Mudrarakshasa. This story again represents the purity and romance of the interior and the impurity and unexcitement of the outside. The poison of the maidens outside does not diminish her purity which lies within.
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The Chrysanthemums by John Steinback. Again, this story is about love also, but this time it is restrained. A travleing man who repairs flower pots happens upon a married woman engaged in her beautiful chrysanthemum garden. At first she scorns the traveller, but when she learns for his love of plants her scorn turns into passion and she can barely contain herself, but she does in the end. The story ends with him plodding off with a few pots of her precious chrysanthemums to give to his other customers. This time, love was restrained, but the woman giving away her precious flowers symbolizes the giving of life.
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The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett. This story revolves around a lonely widower who will not allow anyone into his deceased wife's beloved garden. However, his young neice with the aid of a friendly robin gains access and starts to repair the garden. While she is repairing the garden more and more people from the broken family, and even the old gardener come together to tend the garden. The garden in the beginning was the site of the near destruction of the family, but in the end it helped fuel the regeneration into a happy family. The cohesion of the family coincides with the healing of the garden, which represents healing in general. This story also alludes to love, not the passionate kinds of before, but a familial bond.
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La Finta Giardiniera by Mozart. This opera is mainly based in a garden, and once again involves passionate love.Throughout this opera numerous couples decide to be with one another while in the garden. Again, this represents the love and growth of the garden.

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Biblical Imagery
A text that utilizes the garden archetype to possibly the fullest extent is the bible. The garden is used for its strong imagery in many of the biblical stories.
• Simplicity/ removing one from complexities of civilization-In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve were not ashamed of their nakedness until they ate from the tree.
• Abundance-an example of this garden characteristic in the bible is the tree of life in The Garden of Eden.
• The Garden of Eden represents seclusion and protection, even though there are no walls.
• Harmony-until breaking the rules of the garden, Adam and Eve live in perfect harmony with one another as well as with God. When they are expelled from the garden, they lose the spiritual harmony that they had with god.
• Gardens of Love are also displayed in the bible-in the garden of Eden; Adam and Eve are the first marriage union of human kind
• One of the most famous gardens of love is spoken of in the Song of Songs, a book in the bible about romantic love. In this book the garden represents a place of intimacy. Many archetypal characteristics of the garden can be related to the lovers. For instance, the secluded protection of the garden represents the security they feel with each other. The beautiful aesthetics of the garden can represent a mutual attraction to one another. The walled garden in the Song of Songs is used as a metaphor to a bride’s chastity and faithfulness as she is saving it for her husband.
• As well, the Garden of Eden is archetypal in that it represents birth and life, the Garden of Eden is the location where all of humanity was originally conceived in the stories of the bible
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Alice In Wonderland


A more modern piece of literature that incorporates the garden's significance is Alice In Wonderland. Within the first chapter Alice has fallen down the rabbit hole and landed in a strange room where a drink and some food are laid out on the table. Alice sees a door and peers through seeing the wonderful garden. As hard as she tries she is too big to fit through. The scene represents howAlice wants to try to hold onto her childhood innocence that she is losing as she grows up. alice-white-rabbit-topiary-garden.jpg