One of my favorite novels is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This morning, I was thinking about one, among many reasons, why I love this novel. My favorite scene in this novel is when Mary, Colin, and Dickon walk into the blooming garden for the first time — their eyes awash in a rainbow of colors they cultivated together. Their secret garden, which at first appeared to be abandoned, dead, and lost now was fully immersed in brilliant bloom.
I suppose this scene in the novel brings me to tears every time because of its visible metaphor to life. For one, Mary sees herself in the secret garden as she herself is an orphan and for the longest time has felt unwanted and abandoned. Mary has been called sullen and contrary and life has provided sufficient evidence to her time and time again that she is unlovable, sour, and sullen, so she accordingly has believed it. And yet, this beautiful garden in bloom has provided Mary with proof that the stories she has told herself might not actually be the truth.
There’s intrinsic magic within this awakening to the beauty all the characters experience about the world around them. Colin, a sickly boy, opens his eyes to the garden and begins to believe in the magic of words and beautiful places. Together, the characters cultivate their magic through the lens of their secret garden and their friendship. Colin realizes his strength. Mary realizes she has always been loved and finds family in both Colin, Dickon, and Mr. Craven, Colin’s father. Through the imagination of these children, they are able to not only open their hearts to the beautiful possibilities of this world, but they are able to open the adults’ hearts around them, too.
In the end, the secret garden remains open in a perpetual bloom so all who come across the garden might witness the beauty of the children’s discovery, too.