The Virgin in the Garden Summary
A. S. Byatt

Everything you need to understand or teach The Virgin in the Garden by A. S. Byatt.

  • The Virgin in the Garden Summary & Study Guide

The Virgin in the Garden Summary

Some of the important themes of the novel are suggested in its title, The Virgin in the Garden. A number of possibilities for the identity of the virgin and of the garden are offered in the novel; secular, mythological, and historical readings of the phrase are all possible. In Elizabeth I's day, Byatt's playwright character says, there was a richness of symbolic meaning, and people thought in symbolic terms. His play about the first Elizabeth is in sharp contrast with the televised coronation of the second Elizabeth which most of the characters watch together.

The medium has changed, and with it the message. The modern world, with its insistence on literal meaning and its view of sex as all-important, seems ultimately less able to satisfy humans, and the characters in the novel are almost all in search of greater meaning.

Another related theme, which appears elsewhere in Byatt's...

(read more from the Short Guide)

Study Pack

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The Virgin in the Garden Short Guide

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