Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Melanie V. Dawson
Alan C. Braddock
I situate Edith Wharton’s guiding idea of “garden-magic” at the center of my thesis because Wharton’s fiction shows how a garden space could naturalize otherwise inadmissible behaviors within upper-class society while helping a character tie such behavior to a greater possibility for escape. To this end, Wharton situates gardens as idealized touchstones within the built environment of New York City, spaces where characters believe they can reach self-actualization within a version of nature that is man-made. Actualization, in this sense, stems from a character’s imaginative escape that is enabled by a perception of the garden as a kind of natural oasis within the city. The way that this construction overlaps with a greater cultural acceptance of the garden as a “magic” – or, rather, norm-altering – space allows Wharton to evoke a unique perspective of turn-of-the-century nature.
Malks, Jonathan, "“Garden-Magic”: Conceptions of Nature in Edith Wharton’s Fiction" (2021). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1603.
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