Romance; bildungsroman (coming-of-age novel); novel of ideas (fictional work with philosophical or ideological underpinnings)


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.


Mary Lennox; Colin Craven

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.


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

Major Conflict The major conflict in The Secret Garden is between each character and his own negative thoughts.


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

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


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.