Nature and the Individual
Nature is another force, along with fate, that plays a major role in Drabble's fictional world. Drabble uses the term in a broad, multifarious sense: it encompasses people's innate characters, human and animal biological processes, the natural physical world, and what can only be called "the gifts of nature" -- those primordially and universally recognized bounties, such as health, wealth, beauty, and talent, which are dispensed to certain fortunate people. Disparate as these four phenomena are on the surface, they are all manifestations of what Drabble honors as the natural: an inexorable, awesome force, beyond human control, that rolls through all of the animate and inanimate world.
Drabble's concept of nature appears to derive from a mixture of Christian, romantic, and Classical notions. When she talks about the uniqueness and sacredness of each human being, she implies the Christian belief that every person contains a spark of God. Her statement to Nancy Hardin about God's having a special plan for each individual has already been mentioned. But her views on biological nature and the physical world are closer to the romantic than the Christian tradition. Like the Romantics, especially Wordsworth, she wants to reestablish human beings' intimate connection with the rest of nature -- animal, vegetative, and geological. And like them, she intuits the presence of a supreme force, be it God or something more abstract, animating and giving significance to the natural world. Although this supernatural force pervades all the world, it seems closer to the surface, or more accessible, in primitive landscapes. As Drabble has observed, "For many of us today, lacking [traditional religious] convictions, the perception of God in nature is as close as we get to religious experience."1 Finally, Drabble's views on the gifts of nature suggest a Classical sensibility; in particular, her