Recent scholarly interest in Elizabeth von Arnim has related Elizabeth and Her German Garden and The Solitary Summer to the New Woman and Female Aesthete movements, concluding that von Arnim does not align herself with any movement per se. Rather, in these early works, Elizabeth advocates and adamantly defends her right to time in her garden, which becomes her sanctuary for reading and thinking. Little critical attention has been paid to von Arnim's later works; however, many of the themes established in von Arnim's early works can be traced through her later novels. In The Enchanted April Lady Caroline retreats to the garden at San Salvatore in order to escape the attention of others and discover who she really is and what she wants out of life. Because she follows the early von Arnim model by defending her garden sanctuary, she is able to find the strength to insist on being treated as a person rather than a beautiful object. Additionally, Lucy Enstwhistle's interrupted time in the garden in Vera demonstrates the importance of the role of von Arnim's garden in forming an identity and developing the ability to make decisions for oneself. Because Lucy allows Everard Wemyss to rob her of these opportunities, she loses the opportunity to create her identity. She soon becomes the second Mrs. Wemyss, realizes that she is abject, and begins taking on first wife Vera's attributes and passions to cope with Everard's constant demands. Because Lucy has forfeited the formative experiences the garden space can provide, Lucy is left to take up Vera's identity and tragic fate.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Young, Katie Elizabeth, "More than "Wisteria and Sunshine": The Garden as a Space of Female Introspection and Identity in Elizabeth von Arnim's The Enchanted April and Vera" (2011). Theses and Dissertations. 3033.
Elizabeth von Arnim, Vera, The Enchanted April, garden, women authors, twentieth-century fiction, abjectification, novelists, English