Tom's Midnight Garden

Tom and Time Again: Representing a Theory of Temporality in 'Tom’s Midnight Garden' College

Time is the centre-point of Pearce’s novel, particularly the confusion around the reality and reliability of time. This essay will set out to answer Tom’s question; ‘What is Time- I mean, how does Time work?’[1] by researching scientific and philosophical theories on time and therefore clarifying how these concepts of time are represented in Tom’s Midnight Garden.

Pearce employs the concept of time in her novel, drawing upon J.W Dunne's An Experiment with Time and its central notion that different periods of time are able to co-exist and blend together[2]. For Tom Long, time slows down when he is sent to his Uncle and Aunt’s house for the summer, in order to avoid catching the measles. Time is therefore represented as an individual experience; variable depending on personal attitudes towards how one spends their time. It is particularly interesting how Tom has two separate relationships and feelings with time. Initially, time acts as a seemingly endless enemy, the only entity between himself and returning to his brother, Peter back home. But, once the mystery of the Midnight Garden is revealed, Tom wishes to halt time; even postponing his return to Peter in order to continue his journey in the ever-changing Garden.


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