Abby McDermitt The Secret Garden One of the major themes in this novel is the relationship between landscape and a person’s welfare. One of the most important ways that the novel shows this theme is by creating an opposition between India and England. The novel subtly attributes Mary’s childhood sickness to her time in India: “Her face was yellow because she had been born in India and had always been ill in one way or another. ” India is consistently presented as a place which gives off illness, as well as a kind of living death: so long as Mary lived there, she was “always too hot and languid” to do anything.
Her time on the moor begins to effect a change in Mary: she slowly begins to grow stronger and healthier, and her imagination, which had been inactive during her time in India, is reborn by her exploration of the manor grounds and her search for the secret garden. Her contact with English gardens, English boys, and English moors cures her of her Indian malaise. Master Craven’s constitutional sickness is brought out by his constant travel “in foreign places. ” All life and joy are on Missel Moor, therefore making travel a sign of illness.
Travel indicates that Master Craven has “forgotten and deserted his home and his duties. ” The natural landscape is consistently portrayed as mirroring its human inhabitants: it is the “wuthering” of the wind that awakens Mary and alerts her to Colin’s crying; the robin redbreast and a timely gust of wind reveal the key and door to the secret garden to her. The natural landscape is subject to personification throughout the novel. The secret garden brings Colin and Mary back to life, and they revive it in turn.
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