If ever there was a book in which the setting becomes an additional character, then ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett is one. Through the coming alive of the setting, the author not only displays her love for Nature, but she will make you fall in love with it too.
Setting of The Secret Garden:
The novel begins in India but gets quickly shifted to England. 9-year-old Mary, the heroine of the book, only witnesses hot and humid weather and dust and squalor in India. But life soon shifts her to a place where the beauty of Nature is alive and thriving, the moors are expanding far and wide, beckoning her to their mysteries and reviving her sodden spirit with their fresh and invigorating gusts of wind. Then there are gardens upon gardens surrounding the great house where she now lives.
Mary has complete freedom to explore and marvel at these gardens as they come alive with spring. She loves the splendour of Nature spread around her. Mother Nature rewards her adoration by curing her of her ills, awakening her to goodness and happiness, and making her and her young companions experience the power of positive thinking and the presence and love of the Almighty. The three little children in the book take care of a forsaken garden. In return, this secret garden takes care of them. Actually, it does more for them then they do for it.
The heroine of The Secret Garden:
The heroine of the book is 9 years old Mary Lennox. Her father, an officer in the British Army in India, and her mother, a renowned beauty, much in demand at all parties and balls, care not a bit for their child. So Mary is tended only by the Indian servants, who bow to every whim, fancy and demand of the Missie Sahib. As a result, Mary is a selfish, self-centered, and ugly and sickly child, totally without any idea of appreciating anything, following orders or respecting anyone.
Then death strikes and she loses both her parents. She is then sent to Yorkshire, England, to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven. And it is there that she actually starts living.
Archibald Craven is a man himself stricken with grief. So, unable to care for anything or anyone, he leaves the girl to her devices and goes away on his travels. She is once again tended by servants. But here, the Yorkshire servants refuse to be her slaves. She then has nothing else to do but to roam through the gardens and explore the big mysterious house with 100 rooms. This solitude forces Mary to get closer to Nature. In turn, she forces her sick cousin Colin Craven to do so too. And Mother Nature works her kind magic on both the children.
As spring transforms their secret garden, the children who work hard at the garden get transformed too. As they see little plants peeking out from the soil, they can’t think of it as anything else but magic. And they teach themselves to believe that the magic is spread all around. And if you just believe in the magic, it will help you and make you stronger, healthier, and happier.
This made me think of ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. ‘The Secret’ also teaches the value of belief, but by means of abstract principles and theories. But ‘The Secret Garden’ shows you the principle in action, and shows it in the simplest and most unobtrusive way.
The Secret Garden review:
‘The Secret Garden,’ published in 1911, is a classic that has stood the test of time. It teaches many lessons, but in a delightfully subtle way. The story is simple and sweet. The language is simple and fluid, even when broad Yorkshire is spoken. The characters are believable and realistic. And the book is full of positivity and convinces you of the benign influence of Nature, power of positive thinking, and the omnipresence of the ‘Magic.’
The best part of the book, however, is its description of Nature. If you just read this book for half an hour before going to sleep, you are guaranteed to have the sweetest of dreams. Although it is a children’s book, it can delight anybody.
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