In a narrative, such as a novel, motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the pieces major theme. The Serial Garden is a short story written by Joan Aiken. The Serial Garden is about Mark Armitage, a boy who dwells in and out of magical worlds. In The Serial Garden Aiken uses various motifs to promote and instruct the books proposition. A motif is an element that appears numerous times in a literary work. The motif of reluctance is portrayed trough the fussy behavior of Aikens characters.
For example, when Marks mother, Mrs. Armitage asks him if he wants cold rice and pudding for breakfast. Mark answers with rebuttal. Mark is reluctant to eat rice and pudding for breakfast since it is not from the larbor and rather chilly looking. Therefore, his mother sends him to run down to Miss Pride to get a small packet of cereal. In addition, reluctance is illustrated when Mark finds Rudi, the princess’s long lost love and the princess is reluctant to go to his house. Since she insists it is not proper etiquette. The princess concludes because she is royal it would not be an act of dignity.
Furthermore, hesitancy is depicted when Rudi is reluctant to proceed to see the princess, until he feeds his dogs first. Rudi is reluctant since he believes the dogs may not be hungry and that they were visitors and they must be taken care of. The motif of reluctance is presented various times throughout The Serial Garden. As well as the motif of reluctance the motif of imprisonment is illustrated. For example, when Mr. Armitage locks himself in the larder. Mr Armitage’s imprisonment is a result of him trying to find out the location the mouse uses to get into the larder.
Mr. Armitage shuts himself in so that no member of the family can disturb his vigil. As a result the spring attached to the door jammed therefore, locking himself in. Another example is when the princess falls in love with Rudi and decides to marry him. The princess’s father disapproves of the marriage since Rudi was a common person. Therefore, her father keeps strict guard to halt the princess from escaping. As a result, the Princess slips in-between the pages of the book to escape her father. Then, when she and Rudy decide to marry, the princess has her maid to bring the book to him.
Although, the maid fails to get the book to Rudi therefore, locking the princess in the garden for fifty years. The concept of a character being constrained is displayed several times in The Serial Garden. In addition, the motif of excitement through the anxious behavior of Aiken’s characters is depicted. For example, when mark goes to Miss Pride asking her if she were to have sections one two four and five of breakfast brikks. Miss Pride answers with dismay almost sure she does not carry them.
Although, as she was looking in her tattered and cluttered cellar where she is most likely not to find it; to her excitement Miss Pride found a little cache of breakfast brikks, which turned out to be the remaining sections, six, one and two. Another example is Mark asks Mr. Johansen if he is able to identify a tune he is about to whistle. As mark comes to the end of the tune, Mark is surprised to see Mr. Johansen’s eyes fill with tears. Mr. Johansen’s lament is a result of his emotion towards the tune because of it reminding him how happy he was when he wrote it.
Then, when Mr.Johansen states that he wrote the tune Mark reacts with excitement. Furthermore excitement is depicted, when mark tells he Princess, Lota belongs to Rudolf Johansen. The princess’s excitement is a result of identifying her long lost love, Rudi. The motif of emotion is portrayed numerous times in the Serial Garden. Beneath the magical surface of a fairytale lies a reservoir of timeless symbolic forms and images. Several motifs are reluctance, entrapment, and excitement. Excluding the use of literary motifs most novels would not be worth reading.
Motifs are an indispensable element of literature in The Serial Garden written by Joan Aiken.
Courtney from Study Moose
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