Updated: Mar 18, 2021
Notably in the scene from Penda's Fen, Mrs Arne resides among this thistles, inside the garden. Fixed in the corner of the frame, surrounded by the bamboo fence she has constructed herself, this gardener is integrated into the wild she seeks to contain. On top of this, the intense greenery of the setting combines with the lower film quality to project a green hue onto Mrs Arne’s face. Uncontrollably, the wild is visibly reflected onto Mrs Arne’s body. Unable to provide children in a heterosexist society which places value solely in female bodies' ability to reproduce, Mrs Arne’s biological identity, like the weeds, is viewed as unwelcome. Therefore, the wild of the garden as “a space beyond the home” (Halberstam 3) reflected in the wildness of Mrs Arne's non-conforming body in her society. As Halberstam argues, the wild is not only found in physical spaces of nature, but in any “challenge to an assumed order of things from, by, and on behalf of things that refuse and resist order itself” (3). Mrs Arne’s attempts to discipline the wild in her garden, pulling out unwanted weeds, perhaps then represent a confrontation with her wild identity. Stabbing the soil comes to signify a scrubbing clean of the social ‘dirtiness’ associated with her biological make-up.