Critical essays on the secret garden


The Secret Garden Essays

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The Secret Garden

Fantasy feels forced in Showtime's Back to the Secret Garden. Michael Speier. Charming magical realism sequel set in s England. Brian Costello.

Analysis and adaptations

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Critical essays on the secret garden by frances hodgson burnett

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Tomatometer Not Yet Available. Want to see. Super Reviewer. View All Photos 3. Movie Info. Although Frances Hodgson Burnett did not feel the need to write a sequel to her classic fantasy novel The Secret Garden, this did not prevent producer Norman Rosemont from commissioning just such a sequel. Set in , Back to the Secret Garden finds Mary Lennox, the youthful heroine of the original novel, all grown up and far removed from her beloved enchanted garden in Yorkshire's Mistlewaith Manor.

Over the Garden Wall is Dante's Inferno (Symbolism Analysis)

It is Lizzie who tries to save the day by heading off to England and endeavoring to save Mary's secret garden, which has been literally dying in its caregiver's absence. The American premiere of Back to the Secret Garden appeared on the Showtime Cable Network on September 2, -- nearly two years after the film's completion. Michael Tuchner. Dec 17, She complains about the food and waits expectantly for someone to put on her shoes for her.

Mary's self-centredness undercuts the sentimentality common in Victorian-era portrayals of children. It also makes Mary far more interesting than, say, Pollyanna , the title character of Eleanor H Porter's novel.

The Secret Garden's hidden depths | Books | The Guardian

Because she has nothing else to do, she begins to wonder about a locked-up garden on the grounds left abandoned for a decade. Not coincidentally, Mary is 10 years old. She gets closer and closer to the garden before, with the help of a robin, she discovering the key. Slowly, she begins to interact with the seasons, the dirt, and the flowers — as well as the stories of people who love this landscape, including Ben, the groundskeeper, and Dickon, Martha's brother.

For Mary, it's not a benefactor or romantic love that catalyses her growth. Rather, she learns to take care of herself, to experience un-lonely solitude in the natural landscape. She keeps company with local eccentrics from across the social spectrum, and begins to enjoy the movement of her body; her transformation begins when she learns to jump rope. Meanwhile, the book's tackling of disability and the life of "invalids" is at once intriguing and troubling. Most notable is the depiction of Colin Craven, a cousin of Mary's even more unpleasant than she is. After his mother died giving birth to him, his father, the master of Misselthwaite, left his son to be hidden in the house.

He grows up to be an angry, self-loathing boy who unnerves the servants and has a neurotic fear of becoming a hunchback.


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While Mary is the protagonist, her story is paralleled in Colin's. Indeed, one of the book's strangest features is that it is the two most wounded and unlikable characters who do the most to heal one another. The moral guidance of kindly adults doesn't have much to do with it. The secret garden is a catalyst for healing in the characters who see it, and with Colin the effect is literal. Unable to walk when we meet him, he discovers in the garden that he can stand.

He secretly practises until he is able to shock his father by getting out his wheelchair and walking. With Colin, it's apparent from the start that his disability is psychological, rooted in a loveless childhood. But it's not surprising that Burnett's notion of cures is informed by Christian Science.


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  • The philosophy is plain in the text: "When new beautiful thoughts began to push out the old hideous ones, life began to come back to [Colin], his blood ran healthily through his veins and strength poured into him like a flood. In context of a larger literature that has relatively few complex characters with disabilities, the diagnosis of "it's all in his head" feels disappointing.

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