Themes in The Mower against Gardens

Lost innocence

Taken by itself, The Mower against Gardens seems fairly unambiguous in its main theme: The loss of innocence. Humans, in their economic and cultural development, have generated more wealth than they know what to do with. In a false sophistication, they have replaced Nature with an artificiality that is mere tasteless display. While this is serious enough, what humans have really done is to corrupt Nature herself. The purity of innocent Nature is replaced by a seduced Nature, which is then reduced further in its moral and spiritual power into becoming merely a taste, a fashion. Moral and spiritual categories are lost, and ultimately, human identity as created beings. Human pride takes over God's creation for its own exploitative pleasure, rather than caring for it as stewards, as Genesis 1:28 indicates should happen.

Loss of meaning

This loss of innocence inevitably leads to incoherence and fragmentation. Nature loses its identity and spiritual meaning and coherence. Things become mixed-up and confused. They become unnatural. The cherry, for example, is ‘without a sex'. A modern novel by Jeanette Winterson, called Sexing the Cherry, is set at about this time in history. The reference is to Marvell's poem. We may, of course, think of modern experiments in cloning: Marvell anticipates such things and questions.

Investigating The Mower against Gardens
  • In The Mower against Gardens Marvell questions experimenting with nature
    • Can you see anything to question about modern attempts to clone?
    • What other modern applications does this poem suggest?
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