Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book, The Secret Garden, tells us about the life of Mary Lennox, a sickly orphaned girl in a country house in Yorkshire, England. Throughout the story, we see that Mary has transformed from a sickly little girl to a blooming young woman (Burnett, 1909). It is not because of the companion that she kept or the people that was around her. She was actually alone and isolated in the country house, aside from a few friends that she made. Her transformation was brought about by the secret garden that she has discovered, and it has somewhat cured her of her poor health and loneliness.
In this essay, we try to know more about the nature of the secret garden, and how it was able to “magically” help Mary, as well as several other characters in the story. Mary Lennox was first introduced as a sickly child born to British parents. She was unwanted by her parents because of her poor health condition and her appearance. She was orphaned young, when an outbreak of cholera took her parents from her. She was then sent to Misselthwaite Manor in England to live there. It was her uncle’s, but he was always travelling so most of the time, she was alone.
Living alone was not new for Mary, as she was orphaned early and prior to that she was always in the care of a servant, as her appearance upsets her parents. However, she still has poor health and has to be taken care properly so as not to make it worsen. Mary’s life suddenly changed when she discovers a secret garden in her uncle’s big yard. It was her late aunt’s, and was locked when she died. The discovery of the garden not only gave Mary something to do, but it has somehow helped her recuperate on her health and develop a positive outlook in life, which is something that she shared with other people as well.
As we read through the story, we would often find that the garden is regarded to be magical, not only by Mary, but also by other characters. Reading further, we would somehow be convinced of its power, as it was able to help Mary’s cousin Colin walk again. It has also changed his attitude towards others, and somehow helped him mature. But if we look at the story closely, we can see that the garden has nothing of the extraordinary. It is just a normal garden with plants and roses in it. It was planted in good soil, and with proper care, it went well and blossomed into beautiful proportions.
What was extraordinary was Mary herself, because she was able to change other people’s outlook in life with her strong character. Mary is a very curious girl, and it is proven by her discovery of the secret garden. She is also fun-loving, and has shown care for the things around her, and the proof is the re-blossoming of the garden. She is strong willed and is not easily swayed by others, and it was shown when she stood her ground to Colin’s childish tantrums. All of this are manifestations that Mary is an extraordinary person, and she used her character not only to beautify the garden, but also to help others.
She has continually inspired Colin to walk again, and she was able to do so at the latter part of the story. She befriended a servant boy, who she treated as a dear companion instead of a servant. Through her positive outlook, she was able to change her uncle, who at the end of the story was already happy, seeing that his son Colin was able to walk again, and that the secret garden has bloomed anew – all thanks to Mary.
Burnett, F. H. (1909). The Secret Garden. United Kingdom: Children’s Classics.