The Secret Garden


Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Themes and Colors
Healing, Growth, and Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Thought Theme Icon
Childrearing and Friendship Theme Icon
Secrets and Independence Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Secret Garden, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Healing, Growth, and Nature

The Secret Garden tells the story of ten-year-olds Mary, an ugly and spoiled girl from India, and Colin, a sickly and spoiled hypochondriac. When Mary's parents and their servants die suddenly of cholera, Mary is shipped to live with her uncle Mr. Archibald Craven at Misselthwaite Manor in Yorkshire, England, where she lives for an entire month before discovering Colin's existence. During Mary's time at the manor, her days spent outside in the…

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The Power of Thought

When Mary and Colin first begin spending time together, Mary makes an important discovery: as far as she can tell, there's nothing wrong with Colin aside from his nasty temper and selfish attitude. She and Colin begin to suspect that he believes he's going to die or develop a hunchback simply because he's been told so by the adults around him for his entire life. Consequentially, when Colin takes control of his inner monologue and…

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Childrearing and Friendship

Part of the reason that both Colin and Mary are in such poor states when the reader meets them is because none of their living parents actually wanted them. The officers that rescue the forgotten Mary out of her parents' home after devastating a cholera outbreak note that they didn't even know that Mary's mother had a child, while following the death of Mrs. Craven, Mr. Craven couldn't bear to look at his son…

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Secrets and Independence

The Secret Garden is organized around a number of secrets. Mary's very existence is a secret from most of her parents' friends; Colin experiences some of the same while also insisting that visual evidence of his illness should be kept secret from the Misselthwaite staff; and the biggest draw of the secret garden for Mary is that it's a secret. By exploring how secrets function in both positive and negative ways throughout the novel…

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