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The Secret Garden
Author Frances Hodgson Burnett
Type of Work Novel
Genre Romance; bildungsroman (coming-of-age novel); novel of ideas (fictional work with philosophical or ideological underpinnings)
Time and place written 1906–1909, England
Date of first publication 1909
Narrator Anonynous; the narrator and Frances Hodgson Burnett both have the distinctive values and diction of an upper-middle-class white British woman, and both ardently espouse the principles of Christian Science and New Thought.
Climax Mary's discovery of the secret garden, Mary's decision to share the garden with Dickon, Mary's discovery of Colin, the reawakening of the secret garden, Colin's standing on his feet for the first time
Protagonist Mary Lennox; Colin Craven
Major Conflict The major conflict in The Secret Garden is between each character and his own negative thoughts.
Setting (time) Shortly after the turn of the 20th century
Setting (place) India and Yorkshire, England
Point of view Omniscient narrator. The narrator "knows all," and is highly subjective — that is, she frequently offers opinions of the characters and their motivations, and is often aware of things about them that they do not know themselves. She offers extensive philosophical commentary on the novel's action. She has access to all of the characters thoughts, and often switches back and forth among them.
Falling action Colin and Mary's gradual improvement; the keeping of the secret of that improvement; the disclosure of Colin's newfound health to his father
Tense Past tense; there is only one chapter in which the narrative is not presented in a straightforwardly chronological fashion. The final chapter traces the activities of Archibald Craven, which occur at the same time as the events which make up the bulk of the novel
Tone Romantic; the narrator rhapsodizes about the landscape, the growing beauty of her characters, and the glorious effects of springtime. She also, as noted above, provides extensive quasi-philsophical commentary on the events of the novel, and speaks approvingly of her characters when they behave in a manner consonant with her worldview.
Themes The Omnipresence of Magic; The Relationship between Health and Outlook; The Relationship between Landscape and Human Well-Being; The Necessity of Human Companionship
Motifs Secrets; Parallel Lives Of Colin, Mary, and the Garden; Dickon as an Animal Charmer and "Yorkshire Angel"; the Garden of Eden
Symbols The Robin Redbreast; the Portrait of Mistress Craven; Roses
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Secret Garden!