What was the main idea of the novel, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett?

4 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Mary Lennox, a 10-year-old girl, is born in India to rich United Kingdom parents. She is unwanted by her mother and taken care of primarily by servants, who pacify her as much as possible to keep her out of the way. Spoiled with a temper, she is unaffectionate, angry, rude and obstinate. A cholera breakout in the manor kills her parents and many servants. She is discovered alone but alive after the house is abandoned. She is sent to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven.

    At first, Mary is her usual self, sour, disliking the large house, the people within it, and most of all the vast stretch of moor, which seems scrubby and gray after the winter. She is told that she must stay to her two rooms and that nobody will bother much with her and she must amuse herself. Martha Sowerby, her good-natured maidservant, tells Mary a story of the late Mrs. Craven, and how she would spend hours in a private garden growing roses; an untimely accident kills her, and Mr. Craven has the garden locked and the key buried. Mary is roused by this story and starts to soften her ill manner despite herself. Soon she begins to lose her disposition and gradually comes to enjoy the company of Martha, Ben Weatherstaff the gardener, and also that of a friendly robin redbreast to whom she attaches human qualities. Her appetite increases and she finds herself getting stronger as she plays by herself on the moor. Martha's mother buys Mary a skipping rope in order to expedite this, and she takes to it immediately. Mary's time is occupied by wondering about the secret garden and a strange crying that can sometimes be heard around the house which the servants ignore or deny.

    While exploring the gardens, Mary comes across a badger hole and finds a key belonging to a garden nobody has tended to for over ten years. She chances to ask the housekeeper (Martha) for garden tools, which Martha has delivered by Dickon, her twelve-year-old brother. Mary and Dickon take a liking to each other, as Dickon has a soft way with animals and a good nature. Eager to absorb his gardening knowledge, she reluctantly lets him into the secret of the garden, which he agrees to keep.

    That night, Mary hears the crying again. She follows the noise and to her surprise finds a small boy her age, living in a hidden bedroom. They discover they are cousins: he is the son of her uncle; his mother died in childbirth, and he suffers from an unspecified problem with his spine. Mary visits every day that week, distracting him from his troubles with stories of the moor, of Dickon and his animals and of the garden. It is decided he needs fresh air and the secret garden, which Mary finally admits she has access to. Colin is put into his wheelchair and brought outside into the garden, the first time he's been outdoors in years.

    While in the garden, the children are surprised to see Ben Weatherstaff looking over the wall on a ladder. Startled and angry to find the children there in his late mistress' (Colin's mother's) garden he admits he believed Colin to be a cripple. Colin stands out of his chair to prove him wrong and finds that his legs are fine, though weak from disuse.

    Colin spends every day in the garden, becoming stronger. The children conspire to keep Colin's health a secret so he can surprise his father, who traveling and mourning over his late wife. As Colin's health improves, his father's mood does as well, and he has a dream of his wife calling him into the garden that makes him immediately pack his bags and head home. He walks the outer wall in memory but hears voices inside, finds the door unlocked and is shocked to not only see the garden in full bloom with children in it, but his son running. The servants watch as Mr. Craven walks back to the manor, and all are stunned that Colin runs beside him.


    The garden is the book's central symbol, inspired by Burnett's interest in Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science theories.The secret garden at Misselthwaite Manor is the site of both the near-destruction and the subsequent regeneration of a family. Using the garden motif, Burnett explores the healing power inherent in living things.

    Maytham Hall in Kent, England, where Burnett lived for a number of years during her marriage is often cited as the inspiration for the book's setting.Burnett kept an extensive garden, including an impressive rose garden. However, it has been noted that besides the garden, Maytham Hall and Misselthwaite Manor are physically very different.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Mary was living in India when her parents died. She was taken to England to live with her uncle who had a garden that was locked because his wife died there. Mary discovered who she was in the garden and brought it and the boy back to life.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago


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  • 9 years ago

    To make money. What do you mean - what is the plot/what are the themes? You need to be more specific.

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