||I will look at the secularization of Anglo American culture as reflective in the novels of Francis Hodgson Burnett and Lucy Maud Montgomery. Building upon the insight of Ann Douglas’s The Feminization of American Culture (1976), I will argue that these authors feed narcissism, nostalgic longing for a sense of awe, and other feelings associated with the worship of the divine. Extending the nostalgia for the holy extends into the garden, land and community.
In chapter one, the first novel I am going to look at is Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886) by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Cedric, an American boy goes to Britain to succeed his earldom. He is not only pure, innocent but also dolly like, golden locks, red lips and rosy checks. His beauty makes people around him in awe. He possesses the ability to see the goodness in everyone around him, including the cold-hearted grandfather. Cedric transcends people’s shortcomings by exalting the good. Creating an illusion of a better characteristic of whom, who would like to maintain it by actually becoming that bettered person. While the readers read about the moral regeneration, they themselves sink into the self-indulgent of narcissism by dressing their children as Little Lord Fauntleroy.
The nostalgia for the divine cannot be contained within figures; it has shifted to another agent---land. In my second chapter I will look at another novel by Burnett The Secret Garden (1911), which tells about an India born British girl, Mary Lennox adopted by her uncle after her parents’ death. She is transformed by the intrinsic Moor land and cultivating a garden of her own. Here we see the sentimental texts extending to the domain of domestic landscape of garden. Through Dickon, the country boy, who is like Saint Francis in Assisi, talks to animals and turns the barren into fruitful garden, Mary is led to cultivate the garden/ land. Dickon plays the role of flattering the possibility of the other characters. Dickon spreads his influence from the garden over Mary onto the little landlord Colin.
In my third chapter, I will look at the novel of Anne of Green Gables (1911), which is about an orphan, Anne Shirley adopted by elder siblings. When the red haired girl comes to Avonlea, she revitalizes the indifference small town people into a bonded community. In the eye of this verbose girl, Avonlea is paradise on earth. She convinces the readers to feel the same way as she does through the power of imagination. It is Anne that makes the formerly deemed ordinary trees, ponds and the fields extraordinary. Avonlea becomes the influential garden community, which comforts, amazes and enchants the indifferent villagers/ readers. Anne gains her power not by what she does to the landscape; it is what she does to the readers. We see the secularization process extends to community. The description of Avonlea is almost Eden like expressing a sense of awe and divine, which is the sentiment the villagers never sense before. She mediates her “feelings” of the divine through the imagination she casts on the scenery onto the community.
The narcissism comes out from the sentiments the community provides creating commodity culture. The social impact Anne of Green Gables brings creating the consumerism, which comes from the link and bonding between the readers and the text. The frenzy of dressing little boys in velvet suit, keeping their hair in long locks as Fauntleroy does by the mothers then has generated a phenomenon of “Fauntleroy Plague”. It is also the case when Anne of Green Gables products spread across the continent; the heaven on earth Avonlea has its replicate in Hokkaido, Japan. The audiences, instead of converting into the good deeds or being imaginative, buy themselves a red haired doll or key chain to the Secret Garden sharing the “unique” feeling of the divine.