It goes without saying that the classics are chock full of images of sweeping gardens and romantic natural elements to help set the tone and mood of the story. Ranging from the beauty and glory of nature to the moody and dark corners that can quickly add tension to a plot, here are 5 books with prominent natural themes and gardens.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
There is Anne of Green Gables, where nature is the color that enters Anne’s life once she leaves the orphanage. It is a firm representation of the trajectory her life has taken from colorless to colorful. It is also a great representation of her ability to see beauty in any situation in her life and her strong imaginative powers to create characters and stories out of the nature around her. It is where she gets her joy and the source for her inspiration and love of life.
2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Because honestly, what’s better than a forbidden garden? Locked away because of her uncle’s grief, Mary, who is also contending with the recent death of her parents, sets off on an adventure to try and restore to its original glory the former garden that was taken care of by her late Aunt. Throughout this process, nature aids Mary in her healing through grief and both her Uncle and cousin Colin. It seals their bond with not only shared grief but with the process of restoring beauty and life into their lives again.
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Taking a different turn into the sometimes violent and unpredictable elements of nature, the lonely moorland helps set the dark tone for the turbulent love of Heathcliff and Catherine. Not only does the backdrop give a foreboding and foreshadowing element to the story, but it also illustrates that even the beauty of nature can turn violent, which also mirrors Heathcliff’s disposition. He starts as a young, innocent child, only to turn violent and seek revenge at the hands of his abuser. It demonstrates that no one’s nature can be predicted—or tamed, for that matter.
4. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
After the passing of Maxim De Winter’s late wife Rebecca, her memory still lingers at Manderley. Her belongings are right where she left them as well as the order the house is run in. But more prominently is the “blood-red” rhododendrons and white azaleas that she planted that not only are on full display in the windows but are picked and put in vases throughout the house. It is also noted that even the things once belonging to Rebecca still carry the scent of her beloved Azaleas. The blood-red of the rhododendrons also indicates a dangerous element to Rebecca’s personality and sensuality and the adherence to only her dark and wild instincts instead of the formality of the society that she was a part of.
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Elizabeth Bennet’s walks frequently embark on being alone with her thoughts and away from the pressures that society places on women. It also displays Austin’s emphasis on the importance of solitude and thought for women to develop their own autonomy and be able to make their own decisions and be a representation of freedom for women of a certain social class. The gardens that Elizabeth Bennet remarks on, specifically Mr. Darcy’s garden at Pemberley, are also an important display of wealth. The grander and more intricate the garden, the wealthier the owner and, as such, shows her at odds with herself: her love of nature and sprawling gardens and her overall initial disdain of Mr. Darcy.
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