The Secret Garden seminar

Here are some ideas for your analyses and discussion of The Secret Garden:

What different types of landscapes are presented in the text? What do they represent and what roles do they play? In which scenes can you trace Romantic themes, how do different characters fit with them? Can you see the Romantic child in this text?

What is the Imperial context of this text? Consider the representations of the East. How is it contrasted with the West? What is the role of India in the text?

Why are there so many intertextual references to fairy tales and fairies? What roles do reading and storytelling have in the story? Discuss the discourses about the imagination in the text.

Consider language and dialect. Why is the Yorkshire vernacular so important?

What different models of parenting and the family are constructed. What effects do these have on the child? Which are presented positively? Is there a difference in parenting styles between social classes?

There are many allusions to royalty and rulers. What models of kingship does the text provide – are these straightforward, are some parodies?

Discuss ‘Magic’ in the text and characters’ belief in it. What is it? Can it translate to other cultures?

How are the characters of Mary and Colin constructed? How do they develop and why do they change? Compare and contrast Mary, Dickon and Colin.

What is physical beauty in The Secret Garden? Who is beautiful and how is it achieved?

Illness is psychosomatic in the text. Why are certain characters ‘ill’ and how do they overcome it? How is pathetic fallacy used?

The Secret Garden contains many descriptions of characters awakening or dreaming. What effect does this symbolism have?

What gender roles and expectations are constructed by the story? Are they traditional or are these challenged?

Consider the role of the past in the text. How do characters resolve the issues in their histories that haunt them? What class constructions are embedded in the text. What does Misselthwaite Manor represent? Is this the same with regards to the garden?

Whose story is it anyway??????

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