Study Guide

Kew Gardens Awe and Amazement

By Virginia Woolf

Awe and Amazement

Kew Gardens is a place of immense semi-natural beauty. Even the narrator's descriptions of the scene seem to spring from a sense of awe:

Look at those flowers! Did you see the butterflies?!

The snail inspires amazement too: the story reveals the intricacies of his hidden life in the flowerbed. The poor little guy seems over-awed by the obstacles he must face in his path.

As readers, we are left in awe at the complexity and diversity of life in the garden. Many of the characters are also dazzled and excited by their garden journey—it's like that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where everyone first walks into the factory and sees the chocolate river and Gene Wilder sings in a creepy, soft voice. Except here, there's no candy and no chocolate river, just good old-fashioned nature. Who would have known a darn garden could ever be so thrilling? 

Questions About Awe and Amazement

  1. Why does nature inspire amazement in these characters?
  2. What does this sense of awe tell us about the characters' relation to the natural world?
  3. How does the characters' and the narrator's sense of awe affect the mood of the story? 

Chew on This

Nature affects the characters with momentary experiences of wonder and joy.

The narrator's tone expresses awe at the beauty and complexity of this summer scene in Kew Gardens. 

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