Una of the Garden and Kilmeny of the Orchard can be reread using the hortus conclusus (enclosed garden) motif as a lens to explore how romance and the realistic code collide and so embody L.M. Montgomery’s ambivalence regarding romantic love. The motif connects Una’s/Kilmeny’s space to Eden, as represented in Genesis 1 to 3 and in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and to the garden in the biblical Song of Songs, in complex evocations of imprisonment/liberation and protection/invasion.

At the end of 1909, L.M. Montgomery rewrote Una of the Garden, which had been serialized in The Housekeeper from December 1908 to April 1909. She kept the plot but changed and added to the serial to turn it into the novel Kilmeny of the Orchard, which was published in 1910.1 In her revision, she retained the impression of delicacy, of a gossamer tale that takes us away from the real world into a form of enchanted garden. There, the heroine seems enclosed like an imprisoned princess, both in the garden and in muteness, until her awakening to romance and speech. However, Elizabeth Waterston contends that the new version of this “fairy tale,” Kilmeny, was written by “a woman in her thirties whose early experiences of love had been awkward and disturbing” and that Montgomery’s reservations regarding her secret engagement to Ewan Macdonald subconsciously affected the revisions.2

The hortus conclusus (enclosed garden) motif in Una and Kilmeny provides a new lens to explore Montgomery’s construction of enclosures and various breaches of enclosures (literal and metaphoric) in these two texts, which trouble idealizations of romance. This article traces some possible sources, such as the Song of Songs and Milton’s Paradise Lost, for the allusive details that may indicate Montgomery’s own ambivalence regarding romance and marriage as enclosure or liberation or both. Using the garden motif with its intriguing links to the hortus conclusus construct, I argue that Una and Kilmeny feature a patterning of enclosures and breaches of enclosures that creates uneasy slippage between the paradoxical nature of enclosure as protection or imprisonment and breaches of enclosure as potential threat or liberation. This slippage problematizes the surface plot premised on the well-worn rescued-maiden scenario, hinting at Montgomery’s underlying discomfort regarding romance and marriage as desirable objectives.

Una and Kilmeny in Montgomery’s Work and Montgomery Criticism

Unlike in many other Montgomery works, the heroine, Una or Kilmeny, is not connected to a specific house—Green Gables, Ingleside, New Moon, Lantern Hill, or Silver Bush—and through that house to a community. Instead, in the style of most fairy tales, she is connected to an indefinite space—a garden, an orchard—where the realistic demands of everyday life appear to be suspended. There, the familiar motif of imprisoned maiden and rescuing knight is played out, with the knight updated as a member of what Elizabeth Epperly refers to as the “the new mercantile aristocracy—the wealthy middle class.”3

Epperly notes a shift in style in Kilmeny of the Orchard, Montgomery’s third novel, from Montgomery’s previous two novels, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, categorizing Kilmeny as “formula romance fiction.” She summarizes the relatively slight, linear plot of the novel (the same as the plot in the serial, which Epperly does not refer to in her summary) as follows:

Beautiful Kilmeny Gordon, mute daughter of a fanatical and twisted mother, is brought up to believe that she is ugly and that all strangers—especially men—are dangerous. She is told that love is a curse and that she must not try to mingle with a wicked and thwarting world. She lives on a secluded homestead on Prince Edward Island, where she makes an old orchard into an enchanted garden, going there to play her violin. Kilmeny’s music—all of her own spontaneous composition—speaks the feelings and thoughts she cannot herself utter.4

This plotline concludes with the entrance of Eric, their falling in love, Kilmeny’s regaining speech, and the expected marriage at the end. The imprisoning muteness is overcome by love when Neil Gordon, who has been fostered by Kilmeny’s aunt and uncle, becomes sufficiently jealous of Eric to attempt to kill him, and Kilmeny is shocked into speech to call out a warning to Eric.

The apparently formulaic romance plot and the absence in Una and Kilmeny of the humour and energy of many of Montgomery’s other works probably contributed to the relative neglect of the story and novel in Montgomery criticism. However, the novel was popular with readers when it first appeared in 1910, as acclaim by Earl Grey, then Governor General of Canada, demonstrates.5 Benjamin Lefebvre has carefully traced several early reviews of Kilmeny, some of which were enthusiastic; for example, an Australian reviewer refers to the novel as “one of the most charming love idyls written for many years.” But others were more ambivalent about the book and dubious about its appeal. While some reviewers expressed approval of a “pretty” story, others noted its sentimentality, and reviewers varied in their tolerance of this kind of romance. Some even went so far as to remark sarcastically on the calibre of reader who would be pleased with Kilmeny. One sample is the snide assessment of the San Francisco Call that “the two earlier ‘Anne’ stories are better from a literary view point, but [that] this story is sure to win all that class of readers who think a book is fine if it makes them weep.”6 Despite the novel’s early popularity, it has garnered little more than peripheral mention or footnotes, with the exception of Epperly’s and Lefebvre’s critiques, Waterston’s chapter on the novel in Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery, and Heidi Lawrence’s recent article on the impact of the gaze in Kilmeny. Even less has been written on Una. The 2010 facsimile edition of four installments of Una of the Garden, edited by Donna Campbell and Simon Lloyd, and the availability of all five installments of Una online allow comparisons between Una and Kilmeny, but so far there has been only limited detailed comparison or discussion of the differences.7 The following discussion of enclosure and breaches of enclosure includes consideration of a selection of the changes Montgomery made in the relevant passages and of how these cast light on her troubling of the idyll of romance.

Waterston’s Magic Island, which predates the publication of the facsimile edition of Una, offers the most sustained discussion to date of Kilmeny as a whole and rightly recognizes that it is a “story, produced by painstaking craftsmanship,” making it a text that deserves closer critical scrutiny. Waterston traces the story’s antecedents in the fairy tale (which Epperly already noted) to Montgomery’s rereading of Hans Christian Andersen and recognizes in it “a complex example of the relationship between reality and fiction, between the island where Montgomery lived and worked and the island of imagination to which she could retreat.” Waterston explores the Prince Edward Island setting and links to Edmund Spenser, Sir Walter Scott, James Hogg’s “The Queen’s Wake,” Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Gerald du Maurier’s Trilby, and Gene Stratton Porter. Of particular interest to my article is Waterston’s contention that in Montgomery’s revision and re-visioning of the text, the novelist’s own current situation, particularly her secret engagement to Ewan Macdonald, may have influenced some of the details she changed.8 My article identifies new intertextual links to Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Song of Songs to demonstrate how allusions to them, and particularly to the enclosed garden motif in these two texts, connect to Montgomery’s personal concerns. The construct of the enclosed garden (the hortus conclusus) and breaches of the enclosed space can thus serve as a lens to engage with the serial and the novel and with Montgomery’s conscious or subconscious troubling of the construct of idealized romance.

The Hortus Conclusus as Lens

The motif of the hortus conclusus offers a useful perspective to highlight Montgomery’s stylistic choices and problematization of romance in Una and, to a greater extent, in Kilmeny. The garden and the orchard have a venerable ancestry, including the Garden of Eden and the garden in the Song of Songs: “Hortus conclusus soror mea, sponsa, hortus conclusus, fons signatus,” as the Vulgate phrases it (or in the King James Version, “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, A spring shut up, A fountain sealed.”)9 The intriguing wording here refers not only to a woman in a physical enclosed garden but also to the woman as such a garden and as a sealed fountain, two evocative images that I explore in relation to the serial and novel. Una/Kilmeny’s space is breached, but she breaks through her muteness; she leaves the confines of the garden, but her agency is threatened.

The enclosed garden as an archetype in the Bible, in the form of the Garden of Eden or Paradise in Genesis 1 to 3, goes back more than 2,500 years ago, possibly to the walled gardens and parks of ancient Persia, where the hortus conclusus was called a pairidaeza, “pairi meaning around and daeza meaning wall. This translated into the Latin paradisus and in 1175 it appeared in a Middle English Biblical passage, as paradis.” Both the construct of “paradise” and the “enclosed garden” then became part of medieval iconography.10

Montgomery’s use of the garden motif may well have arisen mainly from her love of gardens, but it may also have been enriched by her awareness of biblical gardens, specifically those in Genesis 1 to 3 and the Song of Songs. It could also have been informed by elements of the Garden of Paradise and its inhabitants that are evoked in detail in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Montgomery read that epic during her studies at the Halifax Ladies College, as she mentions in a journal entry for Thursday, 12 December 1895.11 (She also quotes Milton’s poem on a card included in her Blue Scrapbook on Saturday, 28 July 1894.12) Several details argue for Montgomery’s allusion to Milton’s poem, including her invocation of the gates of the Garden of Eden in her rewriting of Una as Kilmeny with the title of chapter 8, “At the Gate of Eden,” raising the question of who enters or exits from that gate. Other links are the curious title of chapter 9, “The Straight Simplicity of Eve,”13 and the reference to the angel Ithuriel, who appears in Paradise Lost but is not mentioned in the Bible.

The discussion below focuses on Kilmeny of the Orchard but also refers to Una of the Garden where similarities or differences illuminate some of Montgomery’s choices in revising and re-visioning her serial as a novel.14 These references to Una are particularly pertinent to Montgomery’s depiction of the garden and orchard and her sharpening of the narrative focus on Eric. The focus on Eric imposes another enclosure of Una/Kilmeny in the way the story is told.

Una’s Garden and Kilmeny’s Orchard

The setting of Una of the Garden is, like all walled gardens, a liminal space in the sense that it is simultaneously both outside and inside. In this regard, Ursula Badenhorst writes in “The Eschatological Garden” that the enclosed garden “is a contradiction; it is at the same time inside and outside, landscape and architecture, finite and infinite, constant, yet ever changing, and this polarity between endlessness and enclosure transpires to be the enclosed garden’s most unique quality.” Badenhorst explains that a garden is “an introverted space; it eliminates the outside world to create an image of an ideal world.”15 The attributes of liminality and perfection allow for Una to find in her garden a space of expression, as well as privacy and safety, until Eric’s arrival. The description is reminiscent of the magic “fictional island” that Waterston evokes as Montgomery’s retreat and creative space.16 Una’s garden, “a sacred space offering sanctuary,”17 is a horticultural island within Prince Edward Island. The crumbling dyke around the garden in Una (and the fence of the old orchard in Kilmeny) that defines this space offers a separation between the hortus conclusus and the world. According to Rob Aben and Saskia de Wit in their discussion of the historical development of the enclosed garden, “[t]he interior is particularized with regards to the outside, generating a magic threshold between two worlds that is rendered visible by the physical boundary.”18 Crossing this boundary alters the enclosed space and all it contains, but doing so may also alter the destiny of the invader.

The stone dyke in Una and the fence and paths in Kilmeny are evidence that this space was once laid out by human hands, but there are also signs of current neglect, including a “little gap” in the stone dyke in Una and the “tumble-down” condition of the fence in Kilmeny.19 The permeability of the garden/orchard boundary renders it vulnerable to a breach. In Una, the garden description spirals inward, from the square “stone dyke,” through the “lush grass” and along “old paths … still quite visible and … bordered by stones and large pebbles,” to the heart of the garden:

In the center, between two high rows of lilac trees, outblossoming in purple, was a large, square bed all ablow with the starry spikes of the “June lilies,” as the country people call the white narcissus. Their penetrating, haunting fragrance distilled on the evening air and met [Eric] on every soft puff of wind no matter where he walked. In the very center of the bed was a clump of tall white and purple irises.20

Montgomery explained in a letter to G.B. MacMillan on 20 February 1910 that because of the similarity of this idealized garden to Hester Gray’s abandoned garden in Anne of Avonlea, she changed the garden to an orchard in the novel. It is possible that Montgomery may even have been inspired to shift to an orchard setting by a picture postcard she sent to MacMillan on 23 August of the previous year. The postcard depicts an “Orchard Scene. Land of Evangeline, N.S.”21 However, although Kilmeny is nominally set in an orchard, Montgomery retained the best of both worlds by opting for an orchard with the remnants of a garden. Waterston maintains that Montgomery’s decision to shift the scene to an orchard also takes it from “the fragile prettiness of flowers, to the orchard’s implication of the sturdiness of trees, bearing fruit.”22 This may be true in principle, but the descriptions of neither Kilmeny’s orchard nor Una’s garden give an indication of any actual fruit or of harvesting; hence, it seems more plausible that flower symbolism played a role in this case in the changes to Montgomery’s choices of the flora as she reworked Una to Kilmeny and that the resonant allusions to Milton here strengthen the sense of this space as a kind of vulnerable paradise.

In terms of floriography—that Victorian fascination with the “language of flowers,” of which, according to Epperly, Montgomery was well aware23—it is interesting that Una’s garden and Kilmeny’s orchard and garden both feature white and purple lilac, associated with youthful innocence and first love, respectively.24 In Una, there are also clumps of the evocatively named “bleeding heart”; these flowers have been omitted from the novel, possibly to avoid a foreboding tone. There are “many rosebushes,” which in both texts are described as not yet in bloom. Later descriptions feature roses (typically associated with love and friendship), first in bud and then in bloom, as the romance evolves, revealing the growth of Una/Kilmeny and Eric’s love.

Both the serial and the novel include a reference to violets, linked to modesty and faithfulness. Violets also connect Una’s/Kilmeny’s space to Paradise Lost, as these flowers feature twice in Milton’s description of Adam and Eve’s bower, which is an enclosed space within the enclosure of the Garden of Eden, where “underfoot the violet, / Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay / Broidered the ground.”25 The “June lilies” often mentioned in Montgomery’s gardens occur in both texts, but in Kilmeny, the qualifying clause “as the country people call the white narcissus” has been removed, eliding the possible association with self-centredness through the allusion via the flower’s name to the myth of Narcissus. The irises in Una’s garden, with the vague meaning of “message,”26 have also been excised. The retention in Kilmeny of lilac (first love), roses (budding and full-blown love), and violets (modesty and faithfulness) thus sharpens Montgomery’s construction of the setting.

An interesting revision is the addition of apple trees, apples being emblematic of temptation and thus inviting the question who is tempted by what.27 This change, connected to the site from which Eric first sees (and spies on) Kilmeny, and the detail of the crushing of mint, in both Una and Kilmeny,28 add a subtle undertone of threat to the apparently idyllic scene, foreshadowing the risk posed to the heroine’s autonomy and agency by the invasion of her enclosed space through Eric’s wooing. Another shift is from plum trees and a plum tree lane, with the meaning of “fidelity” or “independence,” in Una to an avenue of cherry trees, emblematic of “good education,” in Kilmeny. This shift is relevant to Waterston’s recognition of a possibly unintentional analogy between Eric in Kilmeny and the dark Svengali in du Maurier’s Trilby, as well as to Lawrence’s argument that Kilmeny is a Galatea to Eric as a Pygmalion figure.29

Breaching the Hortus Conclusus

The reader’s first encounter with the garden/orchard is in the title of the serial/novel; the second, after the title has established the existence of an enclosed space, is connected with a breach of the enclosure. Eric’s first meeting with Una/Kilmeny involves an intrusion into her space, and she flees from his gaze, which she wishes to avoid because she believes herself to be ugly. Ironically, he believes she is fleeing from him, “outwardly transformed into an ogre.”30

The Inward Breach

Montgomery traces a journey inward, into the garden, constructing enclosure within enclosure—island garden within garden island, almost like a set of Russian nesting dolls—moving toward the heart of the orchard, and then finally Una/Kilmeny herself as an enclosed garden. Medieval iconography, drawing on biblical imagery of the hortus conclusus, frequently depicts the Virgin Mary in a garden, often enclosed by walls, and considers her (and by implication all virgins) an enclosed garden in herself—as implied by the direct equation in the Song of Songs of the garden to the beloved in the phrasing “[a] garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse.”31 As an emblem of unassailed virtue, then, the garden reflects the girl herself to be an “offshoot of perfect grace and symmetry.” Una/Kilmeny, in her blue, collarless dress, is explicitly associated with images of the Virgin from the beginning: “Her face was oval, marked in every cameo-like line and feature with that expression of absolute, flawless purity, found in the angels and Madonnas of old paintings, a purity that held in it no faintest stain of earthliness.”32 This imagery enhances Eric’s idealized vision of her, holding her apparently safely enclosed in the ideal, but it is ultimately his transgressive gaze that breaches the defence offered by her seclusion. Indeed, his gaze must breach the defence if he is to “liberate” her.

The intrusion that begins with Eric’s seeing Una/Kilmeny and pursuing her33 then progresses to Eric’s first kiss, which is rather disingenuously described as “involuntary”: “He knew that it had opened the gates of womanhood to Kilmeny. Never again, he felt, would her eyes meet his with their old unclouded frankness. When next he looked into them he knew that he should see there the consciousness of his kiss. Behind her in the orchard that night Kilmeny had left her childhood.”34 It is particularly thought-provoking that the kiss that changes her sense of self and perception of the relationship is snatched in the plum tree lane in Una, disrupting her independence as signified by the floriography, or among the cherry trees in Kilmeny, implying an education of sorts.

The Narrative Enclosure of Una/Kilmeny

A slight change in the wording of this kiss scene in Kilmeny highlights that the shape of the narration itself, focalizing the story through Eric’s experience, implies a threat to the enchanted garden and to the girl herself, as a hortus conclusus. In Kilmeny, the added emphasis “he felt” strengthens the focus on Eric’s perspective already present in “that he should see” and the repetition of “he knew.” He assumes knowledge of what Una/Kilmeny feels and arrogates to himself the power to take her from childhood to womanhood.

Most of Montgomery’s stories focus on the female protagonist, but although the serial and novel are named for her, Una/Kilmeny is silenced almost entirely by the focus on the experience of the male protagonist, a prince in his own world: wealthy, educated, attractive, privileged, and loved by both his late adored mother and his father, who is an honest and hard-working entrepreneur. Montgomery undermines the title by expending a considerable portion of the narrative on establishing the male point of view in the text—primarily Eric’s view, but also that of his friend, David Baker—diminishing the agency of Una/Kilmeny. The narration in both Una and Kilmeny provides many details on Eric’s appearance to establish him as handsome and masculine, “good to look upon, tall, broad-shouldered,”35 as well as possessing an “indefinable charm of personality which is quite independent of physical beauty or mental ability … with a clean young manhood behind him and splendid prospects before him.”36 These details establish him as a stereotypical protagonist of a romance serial or novel. He is clearly the romantic hero, but paradoxically, Eric denies susceptibility to romance: he is characterized by his practicality. He prefers “to do all he attempted to do in a reliable, clean-cut fashion, leaving no loose ends.” In the wider context of Montgomery’s celebration of the imagination, for example in Anne of Green Gables, it is concerning that in Una she adds that Eric “planned and thought as he walked along. His plans and thoughts were practical; romantic visions played no part in them. The witchery of the spring … thrilled his ambitions rather than his emotions.”37 Similarly, Kilmeny describes him as “a practical sort of fellow, utterly guiltless of romantic dreams and visions of any sort.” One of his professors remarks, “I am afraid Eric Marshall will never do one quixotic thing … but if he ever does it will supply the one thing lacking in him.”38 Readers might predict that the story will show him doing precisely the “one quixotic thing” by falling in love, but doing this is against his character rather than an inherent positive trait.

As Una begins, Eric is shown already ensconced in his post as teacher in Stillwater, the kind of world Montgomery depicts entertainingly and realistically in most of her novels. It is a world of daily routine, including village gossip, where neighbours are keenly aware of each other’s activities, providing a contrast to the otherworldly space of Una’s garden. In Kilmeny, Montgomery adds an entire chapter showing Eric Marshall in his own environment, graduating from college before entering the smaller world of the Island and then of rural Lindsay.39 The novel spends several chapters establishing the atmosphere of Lindsay, but most of the rich realism that Montgomery exploits, often to comic effect, in other works, is restricted to the caricature of Robert Williamson and to a single awkwardly included comment by the parent of one of Eric’s pupils and an amusing quotation from another pupil’s essay.40 Ultimately, however, it is the pragmatic Eric’s world into which Una/Kilmeny, as a trophy princess, will eventually have to integrate. The reader may well wonder whether Eric’s practical side is likely to reassert itself as a dominant aspect of his character once Una/Kilmeny leaves the garden and goes to live in his world.

The Hold of the Garden and Una/Kilmeny

Despite the power of the practical, real world, the breaching of the garden by Eric’s intrusion into Una’s/Kilmeny’s space is not entirely one-sided: Eric might enter the hortus conclusus of the “enchanted garden,” but it in turn invades and encloses him. The physical garden makes an irresistible appeal to the senses in colour, sound, fragrance, and texture. Montgomery evokes the sensuality of this space similar to that of the garden in the Song of Songs, which says, “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.”41 Kilmeny’s garden reaches out similarly through colour, the feel of the wind, and scent: “Between them was a bed ablow with the starry spikes of June lilies. Their penetrating, haunting fragrance distilled on the dewy air in every soft puff of wind.” The place “laid hold of him subtly and drew him to itself, and he was never to be quite his own man again.” The sound of the girl’s violin then casts its own spell. In chapter 9 of Kilmeny, “The Straight Simplicity of Eve,” the garden (like Una/Kilmeny) reaches out to Eric until his everyday life begins to operate in parallel to his visits to the garden, and these “two lives” are “as distinct from each other as if he possessed a double personality.” The reality of his work and the community become dreamlike, whereas the garden, itself depicted as dreamlike, becomes the reality: “He only LIVED in the other, which was spent in an old orchard, grassy and overgrown, where the minutes seemed to lag for sheer love of the spot and the June winds made wild harping in the old spruces.”42 Eric, like the Kilmeny in Hogg’s poem “The Queen’s Wake,” which Montgomery chose as her epigraph for the novel, enters a liminal space where he encounters a world different from his own,

where the cock never crew,
Where the rain never fell …
A land of love and a land of light,
Withouten sun, or moon, or night;
Where the river swa’d a living stream,
And the light a pure celestial beam;
The land of vision, it would seem,
A still, an everlasting dream.43

Eric becomes reluctant to return to the real world, inverting for a moment the male/female dynamic of Hogg’s poem, equating Eric to the Kilmeny of the poem. The school and the people of the village, and the Williamsons with whom he boards, recede as he enters a different space where none spin or toil. Kilmeny might claim that Aunt Janet says Kilmeny is a good housekeeper (a detail absent from Una),44 that she can cook and sew, but we do not see her engaged in such activities. In this, the depiction of Kilmeny differs from that of the majority of Montgomery’s female characters, both protagonists and minor characters, who take pride in their domestic capability.45 It is as if Montgomery deliberately kept out what Åhmansson refers to as Montgomery’s “realistic code” from the spaces where Kilmeny lives, preserving these spaces as outside the “normal” codes.46 Moreover, within the decorous romantic code of the serial and novel, Montgomery restrains romance and passion to little more than a single kiss, keeping out of the fiction the reality of the “mad sweet hours” with Herman Leard that Montgomery recorded in her own life or “the wild flame of sense that scorched” her with Oliver MacNeill.47

Imprisoning Enclosures for the Heroine

Una’s/Kilmeny’s life is bounded by the enclosing garden or orchard, by the limits of the hortus conclusus. She is equally enclosed by her family circumstances, her own innocence, Margaret’s lie about her daughter’s appearance, and Una’s/Kilmeny’s muteness. In a slight variation from the Song of Songs, it is the fountain of her words that is sealed, fons signatus, rather than the girl herself, but this condition imposes enclosure on her.48 The sealing into muteness is the outcome of her mother’s actions and of another breach: that of Margaret’s trust. Just as the novel features enclosure upon enclosure, it also features breach after breach. Proud young Margaret falls in love with Ronald Fraser, “a stranger from Nova Scotia … nobody knew much about him.”49 When she marries him, Margaret does so in good faith, but then his first wife turns up, and Margaret, feeling betrayed in her trust, returns home, never to emerge again. She feels doubly betrayed when her father speaks harshly to her, so Margaret withdraws into silence. The story, as told to Eric and the reader by Mrs. Williamson and Janet,50 is a masterpiece of gothic darkness. Montgomery heightens the original story in Una from Margaret’s refusal to forgive her father before he dies51 to a stubborn rejection of his request for forgiveness even when he rises from his deathbed to go to her to plead with her. Then, Margaret in her pride breaches the Christian expectation of forgiveness when she refuses to grant her father any pardon. Her obduracy, born from her own despair, sets in motion the tragic trajectory that is to entrap Kilmeny in muteness. Such obstinacy and hardness of heart is a signifier of a rejection of divine grace—a rejection that earns a dire punishment.52

Waterston points out the importance of a “distorted version of Presbyterian theology” in the novel. She associates the reservations expressed about predestination in Kilmeny with Montgomery’s dawning concern over Ewan Macdonald’s anxiety about predestination.53 The original breach of Paradise by Satan and the punishment of original sin are played out in the more immediate assertion by Margaret, which is accepted by her family, that Kilmeny cannot speak because her mother would not speak. The implication of this premise is that Kilmeny is predestined to be mute as a kind of judgment for her mother’s sin. Margaret’s brother Thomas believes his sister’s claim, yet even he questions the unfairness of the suffering of the innocent as a transgenerational punishment.

Eric tries unsuccessfully to overturn these long-standing beliefs by bringing in a medical expert, David Baker, from outside to see whether up-to-date medical knowledge can find a treatable physical cause for Kilmeny’s enclosing muteness. David finds no bodily defect; his diagnosis posits a psychosomatic cause, which is in line with Montgomery’s own description of the story as having a “psychological interest.”54 Kilmeny and her uncle and aunt permit an examination, although they have no faith in modern solutions, and the Gordons are uneasy with David’s modern “expert” opinions. In Kilmeny, David tells Eric, “I saw plainly that old Thomas Gordon thought that I had been meddling with predestination in attempting it.” Thomas later sees only the hand of God in the deliverance of Eric and the restoration of Kilmeny’s ability to speak, liberating her from the enclosure of transgenerational punishment. After the miracle of Kilmeny’s regaining speech, Thomas says in a clear allusion to Milton, “An over-ruling Providence has saved him from the actual commission of the crime and brought good out of evil.”55 This inverts the phrasing in Paradise Lost when Milton’s Satan says, “If then his providence / Out of our evil seek to bring forth good, / Our labour must be to pervert that end, / And out of good still to find means of evil.”56 Thomas’s words pick up both Milton’s word “providence” and the phrase “out of good still to find means of evil” but transform Milton’s phrasing. This addition to Kilmeny, even more so than the less pointed comment by Eric, “think of the good that has resulted from it” in Una, is a strong link both to Milton’s poem and to the wider language of predestinarian theology that Waterston believes Montgomery rejects here.57

Una/Kilmeny is enclosed not only by her muteness but also by what Margaret tells her. Margaret compounds Una’s/Kilmeny’s self-immurement by keeping her daughter away from the community and by the ultimately enclosing lie that the child is ugly, effectively preventing attempts at outward communication. Because Aunt Janet and Uncle Thomas do not know of this lie, they cannot resolve this inhibiting fear, even though they wish to take the child to church to meet other people. The power of this lie is in turn broken by an enclosed image, that of Una/Kilmeny in the large gilded mirror with which Eric faces her:

Kilmeny opened her eyes and looked straight into the mirror where, like a lovely picture in a golden frame, she saw herself reflected. For a moment she was bewildered. Then she realized what it meant. The lilies fell from her arm to the floor and she turned pale. With a little low, involuntary cry she put her hands over her face.58

As Lawrence observes, the mirror appears to liberate her from one perceived disability, ugliness, but disturbingly leaves her in a gilded frame.59

Although the scene appears to centre on Kilmeny, Eric’s perception dominates. It is he who plans to introduce the mirror, persuading Janet to allow him to bring it into the house. Lawrence shows that Eric stage-manages the entire scene, down to the “costumes,” and that his male gaze controls the image Kilmeny will see and when she will see it.60 Her first glimpse of herself in the mirror is enclosed in his framing of her movements and staging of her clothing:

“Take these lilies on your arm, letting their bloom fall against your shoulder—so. Now, give me your hand and shut your eyes. Don’t open them until I say you may.”

He led her into the parlour and up to the mirror.61

The “costume” includes a “trailing, clinging dress” with a neckline that is “slightly cut away,” permitting Kilmeny’s physical beauty to be admired. Eric has her carry “Mary-lilies,” also called “Madonna lilies” in Kilmeny (changed from the less pointed “August lilies” in Una).62 The image that the girl presents is a combination of two pictures of young women with Madonna lilies in Montgomery’s Blue Scrapbook (kept up to the late 1890s) and Red Scrapbook (possibly begun around 1901), as observed by Carolyn Strom Collins in her article on “Cutting and Pasting: What L.M. Montgomery’s Island Scrapbooks Reveal about Her Reading.”63 The image of the dark-haired Madonna-like young woman in a white robe holding lilies, gazing raptly heavenward, in the Red Scrapbook, is the more likely inspiration of the two.64

Kilmeny’s only role in this little drama is to be delighted. Eric’s script and Montgomery’s narrative leave her voiceless, despite “a little low, involuntary cry,” with the focus on Eric’s view of the event and his “boyish” delight. Her reaction is recorded in the narrative merely as acknowledging, anti-climactically, that her beauty is “pleasant to look upon.”65 This scene thus offers an inversion of Milton’s depiction of Eve, who sees a reflection of herself in a stream, and, Narcissus-like, falls a little in love with herself before she sees Adam and acknowledges him to be superior.66 In contrast, Kilmeny sees and admires Eric as superior long before she sees the reflection of herself. She remains modest and does not put herself first at any point, as Kilmeny lacks the self-confidence of Milton’s Eve.

Lawrence points out that Eric’s action leaves Kilmeny enclosed, both in the mirror and her muteness.67 Nevertheless, the scene does represent a breach: it forces Kilmeny to question for the first time her mother’s opinion. She has always believed her mother’s lie that she is ugly, but recognizing the untruth of her mother’s words opens up questions in her mind about whether her mother’s dictum about the evils of love is also false. Her “little low, involuntary cry” punctuates the moment of revelation, just as another “little involuntary cry” punctuates her earlier revelation when Eric kisses her.68 These experiences are not enough to startle her into actual speech or to give her agency over that speech, but they mark breaches that prepare the reader for the possibility of her breaking out of muteness later. The scene is pivotal, as the mirror becomes her tree of knowledge, disrupting forever the enclosed garden—both for the girl in and the girl as the garden.

Danger in the Garden?

Danger can come not only from without but also from within. As in the biblical enclosed space and Milton’s Paradise, there is a threat in the garden. The question then is who or what poses that threat. I would posit that it is not the seemingly obvious candidate, Neil, but Eric, the ostensible romantic prince, who, in entering the garden, poses the greater risk to Una’s/Kilmeny’s autonomy and agency. (From this point, I refer only to Kilmeny, but the same argument applies, unless stated otherwise, to Una.)

Neil is constructed as the stereotypical villain, since his appearance is described as alien, although primarily from Eric’s perspective. He is depicted as a “sinuous, feline creature … ever ready for an unexpected spring” (an addition in Kilmeny), inviting the reader to see him from the outset as the murderous rival requisite for the formula romance and as unrestrained because of his ancestry when he confronts Eric with “the untamed fury of the Italian peasant thwarted in his heart’s desire. It overrode all the restraint of his training and environment.”69 Waterston astutely recognizes in Neil echoes of Heathcliff and his “possessive love.”70 Here is the foreign and dangerous orphan that Rachel Lynde warns Marilla against in Anne of Green Gables.71 Despite the implied threat, Eric dismisses the risk, seeing Neil as only a boy, but Neil’s jealousy is understandable at least to the reader. It is telling that Kilmeny is “fond” of Neil and stops mentioning him to Eric only when she “discerned what Eric did not know himself—that his eyes clouded and grew moody at the mention of Neil’s name.”72 Later, Montgomery appears again to introduce an allusion to Milton when Neil spies on Kilmeny and Eric, similar to the way that Satan, in the form of a toad, spies on Adam and Eve in their bower with its violets and crocuses.73 However, when Neil, consumed by fear, envy, and uncontrollable rage, picks up an axe to attack Eric, it is Neil’s action, traumatic as it is for Kilmeny, that undoes the prior trauma of her mother’s sin to bring good out of his “evil” intent, effecting what Shea Keats refers to as “curative trauma.”74 As David has predicted, a great shock frees Kilmeny’s voice: when she sees Neil with the axe behind Eric, she manages to call out a warning to Eric, causing Neil to drop the axe and flee.

Neil poses a physical threat to Eric, but this threat does not extend to Kilmeny. It is Eric who (perhaps unintentionally) poses the greater threat to Kilmeny and the safety of her inner world. In this regard, Mrs. Williamson tells Eric, “I don’t for a minute think that you would do her or any woman any wilful wrong. But you may do her great harm for all that.”75 When Eric invades the garden, breaching the enclosure, he too spies on Kilmeny when she is playing her violin.76 It is he who opens her eyes to new ideas, including love, and it is he who introduces the mirror that opens Kilmeny’s eyes to a different knowledge of herself, her tree of knowledge, for better or worse, which results in her eventually leaving the garden.

Romancing the Voice?

Kilmeny’s imprisonment in her inability to speak must be looked at more closely if Montgomery does “romanc[e] the voice” in her work, as Epperly maintains in The Fragrance of Sweetgrass. If, as Epperly remarks, Kilmeny remains “static,”77 this amounts to a removal of her agency by the author. One has to ask why Montgomery would silence her protagonist in this way, since it seems that Kilmeny is muted far more by Montgomery’s narrative, with its focus on Eric’s perspective and elision of Kilmeny’s own thoughts, than by Kilmeny’s perceived disability. This focus on Eric perhaps foreshadows Kilmeny’s future as Eric’s wife, which Lawrence describes as merely joining the “family gallery,”78 framing Kilmeny as a prized piece of art, rather than a woman with ideas and desires of her own.

Nevertheless, there are details that imply that Kilmeny, although mute, is not voiceless. What voice does she have? Here again the slippage between enclosure as imprisonment/protection and a breaching of the purportedly enclosing muteness as potential liberation raises some questions. Kilmeny does not speak using her vocal cords, it is true, but she communicates clearly and honestly, perhaps more so because she cannot use the mask of words. She speaks primarily through her music, but she also speaks with intention and precision when she writes on her slate. It is intriguing that Kilmeny, like several other Montgomery protagonists, writes. She does so incisively and clearly, giving her a kind of voice of her own. Her writing, albeit communicative rather than creative, is a true reflection of her thoughts and experiences in the garden.

Another Miltonic allusion becomes a metaphor for Kilmeny’s untainted clarity of thought, protecting her from being harmed by words and asserting a form of agency: Una and the longer novel both include the description of her as the “spear of Ithuriel” for her incisive ability, in her reading, to identify truth and to separate what is valuable from what is not: “She assimilated the ideas in the books they read, speedily, eagerly, and thoroughly, always seizing on the best and truest, and rejecting the false and spurious and weak with an unfailing intuition at which Eric marvelled. Hers was the spear of Ithuriel, trying out the dross of everything and leaving only the pure gold.”79 This metaphor for Kilmeny’s intelligence and penetrating sensitivity to what she reads strengthens my argument that Montgomery either deliberately or subconsciously drew upon Paradise Lost, since Milton’s poem offers the clearest precedent for the character of Ithuriel. Milton describes Ithuriel as using his spear to unmask Satan when the fallen archangel is lurking near Adam and Eve:

Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve, …
Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear
Touched lightly; for no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness.80

We are told that Kilmeny is “naturally quick and clever” and, from Eric’s perspective, displays “[d]elightful little flashes of wit and humour” and “could be whimsical—even charmingly capricious.” From this somewhat patronizing focalization from the male perspective, the narrator moves to a reference to “sarcasm” and tells the reader that “[n]ow and then she punctured some harmless bubble of a young man’s conceit or masculine superiority with a biting little line of daintily written script.”81 The latter description is an addition in Kilmeny, rendering the title character more formidable intellectually than Una.82 There is a sense that Eric is not entirely comfortable with her willingness to laugh at him. If her ability to think for herself and thus her agency and voice expand, it may come to threaten his easy assumption of conventional belief in masculine superiority and result in conflict and frustration for her later in the relationship. Admittedly, as Epperly points out, we do not hear much of Kilmeny’s written critique.83 Nor does Montgomery tell the reader what Eric presents Kilmeny with that elicits her rejection of the “false and spurious and weak”; Montgomery elides precisely what he reads to Kilmeny and what books he gives her. If Kilmeny identifies elements of the “false and spurious and weak” in the texts he offers her and if he offers her texts that he wrongly supposes to be suitable only because he admires them, rather than intentionally to shock or test Kilmeny, it implies that Eric is less discerning than Kilmeny. It also hints that if, in future, his intentions are not as good as they are now, she will be able to discern that, too.

It is in music as her art form that Kilmeny can best express her true thoughts. That in Kilmeny’s communicative writing and in her art, music, the girl is straightforward and honest implies also that Montgomery, in her art, writing, is speaking in her true voice. In interpersonal speech, it is a different matter: when Kilmeny’s eyes have been opened by the mirror, that tree of knowledge, she begins to need the fig leaf of speech, and she avoids both her music and her slate:

It might be that she was afraid to play—afraid that her new emotions might escape her and reveal themselves in music. It was difficult to prevent this, so long had she been accustomed to pour out all her feelings in harmony. The necessity for restraint irked her and made of her bow a clumsy thing which no longer obeyed her wishes. More than ever at that instant did she long for speech—speech that would conceal and protect where dangerous silence might betray.84

If the novel examines breaches of enclosures from without, it also plays with the ambivalent impetus to unseal the fountain from within, an outward breaching of the enclosure. As much as the enclosed space offers protection, it also reaches out. In the case of the girl as an enclosed garden, Kilmeny’s own “spices,” her beauty and musical talent, subliminally call for a wider audience, inviting Eric to enter her space and her life, breaking the spell. That spell can be broken only by breaching the enclosure, but breaking the spell can come at a high cost. It is in the ambivalence of the breaking of the enclosing “spell” that Waterston connects the re-visioning of Kilmeny to Montgomery’s own experience.85

Kilmeny and Montgomery’s Mental Health

Epperly dismisses Kilmeny as a revision and reworking as a “flimsy construction,”86 and Montgomery herself believed it to be an unsatisfactory revision and a “doubtful experiment”87 in its deviation from her other novels, which are solidly grounded in community life and redolent with the humour of the quotidian—and in which tragedy is not too far from laughter. We know from a journal entry on 7 February 1910 that Montgomery suffered “an utter breakdown of body, soul, and spirit” very soon after completing the manuscript of Kilmeny, which she had to submit by New Year’s 1910.88 Was there was something about this novel, beyond overwork on it, that triggered this response? Waterston is probably correct in seeing the novel as reflecting subconsciously Montgomery’s own ambivalence about her engagement to Ewan Macdonald.89 Just as Montgomery would have to leave Cavendish, Kilmeny has to leave the world she knows. It is perhaps significant that Kilmeny prepares herself for Eric’s world by joining a church congregation and Missionary Society, facing people she does not know, just as Montgomery would have to do, once she married Ewan:

“There are so many things that I must learn yet before I shall be ready to be married,” Kilmeny had said. “And I want to get accustomed to seeing people. I feel a little frightened yet whenever I see any one I don’t know, although I don’t think I show it. I am going to church with Uncle and Aunt after this, and to the Missionary Society meetings.”90

The entire section on Kilmeny’s preparation is added in the novel, paralleling Montgomery’s own wait to be married and increasing realization of what being a minister’s wife would mean for her. For the novelist, marriage posed a potential threat to her own voice as a writer. As Rubio notes, Montgomery felt that her fiancé’s lack of understanding about her writing might threaten her space to create, which “was an integral part of her spirit and sense of self … what sustained her.”91


As Kilmeny finds her social voice, she may have to stop writing on the slate of truth. Kilmeny, like several of Montgomery’s novels, troubles the happy ending and subverts the romance formula. For both Kilmeny and Montgomery, commitment to romance and impending marriage breach the enclosure. It forces them to leave the safe space of the hortus conclusus—for Kilmeny, the Gordon orchard, and for Montgomery, Cavendish and Prince Edward Island, her magic island. For each, marriage may be both liberating and deeply threatening. If Montgomery’s fear that Ewan might oppose her writing was realized, marriage would deprive her of the inner island to which Waterston claims Montgomery retreated. First enclosing Kilmeny, silencing her voice, and then breaching the safety of the enclosure, but condemning Kilmeny to using only the spoken word, that fig leaf over truth, may reflect some of Montgomery’s own anxieties around her being “silenced” by her marriage and around a loss of agency, perhaps feeding into the breakdown that followed the revision of the Kilmeny manuscript. Kilmeny’s apparent liberation, through the mirror and the recovery of speech, takes her into a world where she will admittedly experience more than in the seclusion of the orchard and garden, even seen from the less overt restraints of the gilded cage of marriage to Eric. But in that wider world, for Kilmeny and Montgomery, there may very well be a longing for a return to their own truth, because the fountain of the spoken word is not always one of wisdom and truth, and many wield the spoken word to resist the spear of Ithuriel.

About the Author: Idette Noomé has lectured in English literature, language, and editing in the Department of English at the University of Pretoria (South Africa) since 1985, specializing in medieval and seventeenth-century literature. Her M.A. was a comparative study of John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained with German poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock’s Messias. Her D.Litt. explored the translation of legal anthropological texts on indigenous law for divergent target audiences. She has published, among other topics, on girls’ school stories and on possibilities for a Bildungsroman for girls in English, German, and Afrikaans, including a discussion of Montgomery’s Anne books. She has presented at international conferences on Milton, Chaucer and Anglo-Saxon texts, Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery, and other authors, including papers at the LMMI biennial conferences in 2008, 2010, 2018, and 2022. Her chapter “The Nature of the Beast: Pets and People in L.M. Montgomery’s Fiction” was included in L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s) (2018).

  • 1 Epperly, Fragrance 228; Montgomery, My Dear 48. Montgomery describes her frustration in her letter of 20 February 1910 to G.B. MacMillan, stating that she took Una from 24,000 words to 48,000 words, “crowd[ing] three months work into six weeks.”
  • 2 Waterston, Magic Island 30–1.
  • 3 Epperly, Fragrance 228.
  • 4 Epperly, Fragrance 228–9. Comparing Kilmeny to the preceding Anne books, Epperly describes the novel as “heavily sentimental” (57). Several early reviews discussed by Benjamin Lefebvre, “Kilmeny” (84–91) agreed. Epperly revisits Kilmeny in Through Lover’s Lane, noting two references to photography in the imagery of sight in the novel. Her nuanced exploration in Fragrance of the “complexly constructed romance in the lives of women” and the “tensions … between realism and romance” (Preface to the 2014 edition) does not specifically engage with Kilmeny or Una as going beyond the formula. However, Epperly’s persuasive proposition that Montgomery “romanc[es] the voice” (17) throughout Fragrance (for example, 21–4, 149, 168–69, 182, 198) and questioning of female agency in Montgomery’s work in Fragrance open up avenues for investigating Una and Kilmeny in that light later in my article.
  • 5 Rubio, Lucy Maud Montgomery 139.
  • 6 Lefebvre 84. Another particularly scathing rejection of the novel’s sentimentality comes from The English Review, which caustically remarked, “‘Kilmeny’s mouth is like a love-song made incarnate in sweet flesh,’ says Eric Marshall to his father in the excitement of an approved engagement [KO 133]. Now young men do not say things like that to their fathers about young women, even in Canada” (Lefebvre 90).
  • 7 A rare consideration of the revision from Una to Kilmeny was offered by Jennifer Litster’s paper, “Hogg-wash! Revising—and Scoticising—‘Una of the Garden,’” presented at the 15th Biennial International Conference, L.M. Montgomery and Re-Vision, June 22–26, 2022, University of Prince Edward Island.
  • 8 Waterston 30–8.
  • 9 Biblia Sacra Vulgata [Vulgate], Canticorum 4:12; Bible, King James Version, Song of Songs 4:12.
  • 10 Badenhorst, “Eschatological” 23–4.
  • 11 Montgomery, CJ 1 (12 Dec. 1895): 297. She mentions being reluctant to write a set essay on “Character in Paradise Lost,” explaining, “the subject is too big for me to tackle.” Her wording indicates resistance to an uncongenial essay topic, while acknowledging respect for Milton’s poem.
  • 12 Epperly, Imagining 31. The quotation is diagonally slanted across the card beside a dried rose marked as “a faded rosebud.” It reads: “‘Farewell happy fields, / Where joy forever dwells.’ Milton.” The reference to farewell is to Montgomery’s leaving Cavendish to take up her teaching post in Bideford. The quotation is taken from Milton, Paradise Lost I, lines 249–50.
  • 13 Montgomery, KO 55, 61. The notion of enclosure as protection is likely to have been derived from Milton. Gates are mentioned forty-nine times in Paradise Lost. Gates to heaven (Genesis 28:17) and hell (Matthew 16:18) are mentioned in the Bible, but they are not mentioned in connection with paradise in Genesis 1 to 3. Milton depicts Eden as protected by a wall (for example, “Heaven, whose high walls fear no assault or siege,” Paradise Lost II, line 343) and a gate (IV, line 178).
  • 14 Page references to Una reflect the edition of The Housekeeper by month, year, and page.
  • 15 Badenhorst 30, 28.
  • 16 Waterston 1.
  • 17 Badenhorst 28.
  • 18 Aben and de Wit, Enclosed 36; also cited in Badenhorst 53.
  • 19 Montgomery, Una, Dec. 1908, 18; KO 28.
  • 20 Montgomery, Una, Dec. 1908, 18.
  • 21 Montgomery, My Dear 48; AA 99–103; Cavert, “L.M. Montgomery’s.” It is in Hester Gray’s garden that Anne accepts Gilbert’s second proposal in Anne of the Island (289–90). In her letter to MacMillan, Montgomery does not mention the equally enchanted and similarly ethereal garden of Miss Lavendar in Anne of Avonlea (169, 173–75), in which another prince and princess fairy tale is played out, between a much older prince and princess. Montgomery describes her ideal garden, which the gardens in Una and Kilmeny strongly resemble, in a journal entry for 28 August 1901, in which she writes that “it must be secluded and shut away from the world—a ‘garden enclosed’— … Dear old gardens! The very breath of them is a benediction” (Montgomery, CJ 2: 20; emphasis in original).
  • 22 Waterston 31.
  • 23 Epperly, Imagining 76. In considering meanings that Montgomery possibly attributed to specific plants (without suggesting that floriography be applied broadly to “uncode” Montgomery’s references to flowers), I used three Victorian sources that agreed on the meanings cited here and that may have informed floral symbolism in Montgomery’s time: Kate Greenaway’s illustrated work Language of Flowers (1884), John Henry Ingram’s Flora Symbolica; or, The Language and Symbolism of Flowers (1869), and a book by the unknown J.H.S., Floral Poetry and the Language of Flowers (1877).
  • 24 White lilac is associated with youthful innocence (Greenaway; Ingram 358), and separately with the attributes “Innocence” and “Youthful[ness]” (J.H.S. 260). Purple lilac is connected to the first emotions of love (Greenaway) and “Love’s first emotions” (Ingram 358).
  • 25 Milton IV, lines 400–402, and IX, line 1040. This could relate to the sweet violet, meaning “modesty,” or the blue violet, associated with “faithfulness” (Greenaway; Ingram 361; J.H.S. 255).
  • 26 Greenaway; Ingram 358; J.H.S. 248.
  • 27 Greenaway; Ingram 355; J.H.S. 243. Lawrence also recognizes the resonance of Eric’s watching Kilmeny “suggestively hidden in ‘the shadow of the apple tree’” but does not explore the implications.
  • 28 Mint is associated with virtue: Greenaway; Ingram 356; J.H.S. 250. Eric does not seem to threaten Kilmeny’s virtue in this chaste phase of their relationship, but Lawrence regards his “gaze” as implicitly threatening to Kilmeny.
  • 29 Waterston 33; Lawrence. Plum trees signify fidelity, and wild plum is linked to independence (Greenaway; Ingram 360; J.H.S. 251); cherry is associated with “good education” (Greenaway; J.H.S. 245). Lawrence notes Eric’s wish for a “beautiful woman, even if he must create her himself.”
  • 30 Montgomery, KO 33.
  • 31 Bible, Song of Songs 4:12.
  • 32 Montgomery, KO 62, Una, Jan. 1909, 12; KO 31; similar in Una, Dec. 1908, 18.
  • 33 Lawrence sees this as Eric’s treating her as “feral.”
  • 34 Montgomery, KO 79; cf. Una, Feb. 1909, 9.
  • 35 Montgomery, Una, Dec. 1908, 7.
  • 36 Montgomery, KO 2.
  • 37 Montgomery, Una, Dec. 1908, 7 and 18. In Una, there is some sense that he is deceiving himself, as his father suspects him of “yeasty ideas” (Dec. 1908, 7), and he acts on impulse in coming to Stillwater (Lindsay in KO), but in Kilmeny, his practical side is more strongly depicted.
  • 38 Montgomery, KO 2.
  • 39 Epperly, Fragrance 231, points out that college presents Eric with “at least twenty women, beautiful and brainy, among the men.”
  • 40 Montgomery, KO 16–18, 22–26.
  • 41 Bible, Song of Songs 4:16.
  • 42 Montgomery, KO 28–29, 61 (emphasis in original).
  • 43 Hogg, “Kilmeny” lines 40–41, 46–51.
  • 44 Montgomery, KO 53.
  • 45 Some examples are Anne Shirley (and her mentors Marilla Cuthbert and Rachel Lynde) in the Anne series and Jane Stuart in Jane of Lantern Hill (as well as her houseproud aunts Irene and Gertrude).
  • 46 Åhmansson 152–53.
  • 47 Montgomery KO 79; Una, Feb. 1909, 9; CJ 1 (24 July 1899): 440–42; CJ 2 (21 Sept. 1909): 238–39.
  • 48 Vulgate, Canticorum 4:12.
  • 49 Montgomery, KO 42.
  • 50 Montgomery, KO 38–45, 109–13.
  • 51 Montgomery, Una, Apr. 1909, 8; KO 112.
  • 52 Margaret’s obstinacy is reminiscent of characters such as Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, which Waterston (33) detects as influencing Montgomery’s novel, but also of Satan and Beelzebub among the fallen angels in Paradise Lost.
  • 53 Waterston 35.
  • 54 Montgomery, CJ 2 (23 Dec. 1909): 242–43.
  • 55 Montgomery, KO 121, 128.
  • 56 Milton I, lines 158–65.
  • 57 Montgomery, Una, Apr. 1909, 32; Waterston 35.
  • 58 Montgomery, KO 100.
  • 59 Lawrence.
  • 60 Lawrence.
  • 61 Montgomery, KO 101.
  • 62 Montgomery, KO 101–2; Una, Mar. 1909, 7. It is disturbing that the lines Eric quotes as he watches Kilmeny come down the stairs for his staged revelation (“A man had given all other bliss / And all his worldly wealth for this— / To waste his whole heart in one kiss / Upon her perfect lips”) are from Tennyson’s “Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere,” dealing with a transgressive and ultimately destructive love.
  • 63 Collins, “Cutting.”
  • 64 The image is at the bottom left of page 24 of the Red Scrapbook (Epperly, Imagining 129). The dating of this scrapbook is closer to the writing of both Una and Kilmeny. However, because Kilmeny’s hair is pinned up in the picture of the youthful, dewy-eyed young woman with her bare shoulders rising from white lilies that dominates the second page of the earlier Blue Scrapbook (Epperly, Imagining 15), rather than hanging loose (as in the picture in the Red Scrapbook), it is possible that Montgomery was also thinking about this image. Collins has identified the image in the Red Scrapbook as taken from an advertisement for “B.T. Babbitt’s Best Soap” in the Ladies Home Journal of May 1901, and that from the Blue Scrapbook as cut from the cover of The Youth’s Companion of Easter 1894.
  • 65 Montgomery, KO 101.
  • 66 Milton IV, lines 449–75.
  • 67 Lawrence.
  • 68 Montgomery, KO 100; Una, Mar. 1909, 17. The adjective “involuntary” is also used to describe Una’s “cry” when she is kissed (Feb. 1909, 9) but not in the corresponding scene in Kilmeny (79) where the same adjective is retained only to describe Eric’s kiss.
  • 69 Montgomery, KO 19, 83; Una, Feb. 1909, 9 (which has “restraints” instead of “restraint”). Epperly (Fragrance 230) rightly notes Montgomery’s “unblushing use of xenophobia and bigotry” and the disturbing racism in the depiction of Neil, whose dark hair, dark eyes, and temperament are cited as stereotypically “Italian.”
  • 70 Waterston 33.
  • 71 Montgomery, AGG 12.
  • 72 Montgomery, KO 63; Una, Jan. 1909, 12.
  • 73 Milton IV, line 800.
  • 74 Keats, “‘A Shock.’”
  • 75 Montgomery, KO 70.
  • 76 Lawrence connects this example of the male gaze to Foucault’s panopticon: Eric’s gaze is transformative but controlling, as in the mirror scene.
  • 77 Epperly, Fragrance 17, 230.
  • 78 Lawrence. If Eric wishes to place Kilmeny on his late mother’s pedestal, Eric’s father, at the start of the novel, states his own criteria for a daughter-in-law: “I want a homemaker … I am tired of housekeepers. And I want to see your children at my knee before I die” (Montgomery, KO 13).
  • 79 Montgomery, Una, Jan. 1909, 12; KO 62. In Una, the naming of the title character also connects her to Spenser’s Una, as Waterston (31) notes. Una represents the quest for truth. In changing the heroine’s name, this nuance is lost.
  • 80 Milton IV, lines 800, 810–13.
  • 81 Montgomery, Una, Jan. 1909, 12; KO 62.
  • 82 Assuming that Waterston’s connection between Montgomery’s engagement and the revision of the text is correct, this wording is suggestive of Montgomery’s awareness of her own quicker wit compared to that of her fiancé, Ewan.
  • 83 Epperly, Fragrance 229.
  • 84 Montgomery, KO 103–4 (my emphasis); Una, Mar. 1909, 17.
  • 85 Waterston 34.
  • 86 Epperly, Fragrance 229.
  • 87 Montgomery, My Dear, 47–50; CJ 1 (23 Dec. 1909): 242.
  • 88 Montgomery, CJ 2 (7 Feb. 1910): 281; My Dear 47. This breakdown is discussed by Jean Mitchell, “L.M. Montgomery’s Neurasthenia, Embodied Nature and the Matter of Nerves” (112) in L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s), edited by Rita Bode and Jean Mitchell, McGill-Queen’s UP, 2018, pp. 112–27.
  • 89 Waterston 31.
  • 90 Montgomery, KO 131.
  • 91 Rubio, Lucy Maud Montgomery 130. This fear was borne out in Montgomery’s entry in her journal for 10 November 1908, where she writes, “Ewan is much concerned over my condition and has insisted that I do no writing for a month, I have yielded to please him but I do not think it is a wise thing after all. When I am writing I am happy for I forget all worries and cares” (CJ 2: 203).
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Works Cited - Manual

Works Cited

Aben, Rob, and Saskia de Wit. The Enclosed Garden: History and Development of the Hortus Conclusus and Its Reintroduction into the Present-Day Urban Landscape, 2nd ed. 010 Publishers, 1999.

Åhmansson, Gabriella. A Life and Its Mirrors. A Feminist Reading of L.M. Montgomery’s Fiction. Vol 1. Uppsala University, 2009.

Badenhorst, Ursula. “The Eschatological Garden: Sacred Space, Time and Experience in the Monastic Cloister Garden.” Dissertation. M.A. Religious Studies, University of Cape Town, 2009.

The Bible. King James Version. 1611. Bible Society of South Africa, 1982.

Biblia Sacra Vulgata [Vulgate]. https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Biblia-Sacra-Vulgata-VULGATE/.

Cavert, Mary Beth. “L.M. Montgomery’s Picture Postcards to George Boyd MacMillan 1904–1941.” Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies, 2020, https://doi.org/10.32393/jlmms/2021.0004.

Collins, Carolyn Strom. “Cutting and Pasting: What L.M. Montgomery’s Island Scrapbooks Reveal about Her Reading.” Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies, 2021, https://doi.org/10.32393/jlmms/2021.0008.

Epperly, Elizabeth Rollins. The Fragrance of Sweet-Grass: L.M. Montgomery's Heroines and the Pursuit of Romance. Kindle Edition, U of Toronto P, 2014.

---. Imagining Anne. The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery. Penguin Canada, 2008.

---. Through Lover’s Lane: L.M. Montgomery’s Photography and Visual Imagination. U of Toronto P, 2007.

Greenaway, Kate. Language of Flowers. Routledge, 1884. Project Gutenberg, https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/31591.

Hogg, James. “Kilmeny.” Classic poem, 1819, https://www.poetrynook.com/poem/kilmeny.

Ingram, John Henry. Flora Symbolica; or, The Language and Symbolism of Flowers. Frederick Warner, 1869.

J.H.S. Floral Poetry and the Language of Flowers. Marcus Ward, 1877.

Keats, Shea. “‘A Shock of Joy’: Transformative and Triumphant Trauma in the Fiction and Life-Writing of L.M. Montgomery.” The Looking Glass, vol. 18, no. 2, 2015, https://ojs.latrobe.edu.au/ojs/index.php/tlg/article/view/651.

Lawrence, Heidi A. “Caught Forever in a Picture Frame: The Impact of the Gaze in Kilmeny of the Orchard.” Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies, 2022, https://journaloflmmontgomerystudies.ca/vision/Lawrence/Caught-Forever-…;

Lefebvre, Benjamin. “Kilmeny of the Orchard (1910).” The L.M. Montgomery Reader: Volume Three: A Legacy in Review. U of Toronto P, 2015, pp. 84–91.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Poetical Works, edited by Douglas Bush. Oxford UP, 1966, pp. 201–443.

Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Avonlea. 1909. Puffin, 1983.

---. Anne of Green Gables. 1908. Harrap, 1976.

---. Anne’s House of Dreams. 1917. Puffin, 1993.

---. The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, 1889–1911. Edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston, Oxford UP, 2012–2013. 2 vols.

---. Jane of Lantern Hill. 1937. Harrap, 1954.

---. Kilmeny of the Orchard. 1910. Seal Books, 1987.

---. My Dear Mr. M: Letters to G.B. MacMillan from L.M. Montgomery, edited by Francis W.P. Bolger and Elizabeth Rollins Epperly. McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1980.

---. Rilla of Ingleside. 1921. Bantam, 1998.

---. Una of the Garden, edited by Donna J. Campbell and Simon Lloyd. L.M. Montgomery Institute, 2010.

---. Una of the Garden. The Housekeeper, vol. 32, no. 3 (Jan. 1909), pp. 11–12, https://kindredspaces.ca/islandora/object/lmmi:11961#page/3/mode/1up.

Rubio, Mary Henley. Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings. Doubleday Canada, 2008.

Tennyson, Alfred. “Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere,” https://allpoetry.com/Sir-Launcelot-and-Queen-Guinevere.

Waterston, Elizabeth. Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery. Oxford UP, 2008.