A mother’s role impacts the child’s life and plays a huge part in deciding what type of person the child grows up to. Many twentieth century children’s literature demonstrates archetypes, including the mother, and how this helps the characters to succeed and find happiness. Children seek for this maternal figure if it is not found in the birth mother, or is lacking completely, as it is a natural instinct that a child relies on upon entering this world.
The role of the mother figures in the children’s books; Charlotte’s Web by E. B White, The Root Cellar by Janet Lunn, and The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett, is not een in the birth mothers of the main characters in the books, but rather in other characters who nurture and take care of them. These characters show the archetypal mother figure, thus showing that the maternal role is not restrained to a woman by nature or biology, and the role they play throughout the stories, allows for the improvement and success of the protagonists in the books. In The Secret Garden, Burnett demonstrates the role of mother as one that has a great value, and a role that is not confined to a woman.
She presents the mother archetype in this story through the character of a man and through nature, howing that the mother role is in fact a conscious role that is not limited to the women gender necessarily. This story demonstrates that the role of mother includes being in touch with the procreative and nurturing power of nature. The clear archetype seen in the book is the character of Mrs. Sowerby. She is the ideal mother figure and fits the Jungian archetype very well. Even though she is not from an upper class and not wealthy, she still provides the children with proper food and other necessities.
She purchases a rope for Mary to use outside, ‘(). She also helps the children bring the garden back to life, hich in turn helps the children to become better and progress. Mrs. Sowerby’s concern for Colin allows him to reunite with his father, as she writes to Mr. Craven, “I think you would be glad to come, and if you will excuse me, sir – I think your lady would ask you to come if she was here” (). This demonstrates the motherly figure of Mrs. Sowerby and how she fulfill the children’s needs, despite that they are not her own children.
It is through her motherly affection, care and support, that the children are able to find their own mother in her and are able to move on from their past loneliness and difficulties. On the other hand, looking at Mary’s biological mother, Mrs. Lennox, she did not care at all for Mary and did not prove to be a maternal figure for her. She is also to blame for the way Mary was in the beginning of the story, “tyrannical and selfish a little pig as ever lived” (10). Mrs. Lennox had no interest in nurturing for her child, and handed her over to the servants, while she was herself busy with parties and amusing herself with gay people ().
This shows that the role of the mother affects the child. Due to negligence from her biological mother, Mary was rude and lonely, and it wasn’t until he Mrs. Sowerby sarted taking care of her that she was able to grow into a better and beautiful person. Carl Yung in his explanation of the archetype of mother says, “” (). The other less obvious mother archetype that seen in this book is the garden. The children in the story nurture the garden, and in effect, show a motherly attitude toward the earth. The secret garden is a refuge from the rest of the world. The garden, in turn, has a nurturing effect on Mary, Colin and Dickon ().
When Mary starts working to bring the garden back to life, she also starts getting better herself (). Colin heals through the life of the garden (). Burnett also mentions that “while the secret garden was coming alive, the two children were coming alive with it” (). This shows that the garden does serve as an archetype of the mother nature, as it helps the characters of the book to become better and happier. In the children’s book, Charlotte’s Web, the character of Charlotte shows the mother archetype as explained by Jung, and through this maternal wisdom and guidance, she is able to save Wilbur.
In the beginning of the book, Fern is the one who saves Wilbur’s life by arguing with her father and then looks fter Wilbur, even after he is to live with Fern’s uncle. “Fern loved Wilbur more than anything” (2. 1). this shows that Fern really liked Wilbur and cared for him. However, as the book progresses, Fern changes into a different person, mainly after meeting Henry Fussy. She abandons Wilbur for him, and this contrasts to the role of Mrs. Lennox in the secret garden, who neglects Mary. Fern is a motherly figure, but she doesn’t fit the Jungian archetype, as she leaves Wilbur for a boy and doesn’t continue helping Wilbur.
Charlotte illustrates the archetype of the mother figure. Charlotte works tirelessly to save him and even though she is dying at the end of the novel, she is still thinking about the well-being and safety of Wilbur, and motivates herself to write the word that will secure his safety. Charlotte acts like the mother figure for Wilbur, just like a mother would. When Wilbur says, “May I go out to my trough and see if I left any of my supper”, (64) to which Charlotte replies, “Very well, but I want you in bed again without delay” (64).
And again after getting his food, though he asks if he can get milk, and Charlotte tells him “No… I want you to go to sleep. No more talking! ” (65). This shows that Charlotte is a mother-like figure, fitting into the Jungian archetype as she not only advises but also scolds him, as a parent would do. () Looking at The Root Cellar and the role of the mother figure in the book, it is not much different from the two books discussed before. The mother figure seen in this book is Mrs. Morissay, who is not the biological mother of Rose. Rose is an orphan and so she never got a mother’s love when she was younger. This affects her personality, as well as her portrayal in the book.
She feels lonely, just like Mary in the Secret Garden, and is not able to grow and develop as an individual. It is with the care and direction from Mrs. Morrissey that Rose is able to fulfill her quest and is able to finally be happy. Mrs. Morrissey asks Rose to restore the house and in doing so Rose finds the root cellar (). It is her journey to the root cellar that makes her feel like at home, as she is able to make friends and regain her happiness. Mrs. Morrissey serves as a mother figure described in Jung’s theory of archetypes. She guides Rose so that she can succeed and be happy.