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The Secret Garden: Chapters 25, 26 and 27 
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Post The Secret Garden: Chapters 25, 26 and 27
The Secret Garden: Chapters 25, 26 and 27

Please use this thread for discussing Chapters 22, 23 and 24 of "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett. You may also create your own threads if you'd like to make comments that don't necessarily pertain to specific chapters.

Chapter 25 http://www.online-literature.com/burnet ... garden/25/

Chapter 26 http://www.online-literature.com/burnet ... garden/26/

Chapter 27 http://www.online-literature.com/burnet ... garden/27/



Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:36 pm
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The Secret Garden is a narrative argument that Magic -- healing and humanizing occult forces found especially in Nature and good people -- reconciles science and religion. Such magic is both effective and spiritual. I wouldn't expect it to do much for smallpox or a congenital birth defect, but maybe it might help some personality disorders.

A Secret Garden is like one's Fort, isn't it? :)

Tom



Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:06 pm
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Thomas Hood wrote:
The Secret Garden is a narrative argument that Magic -- healing and humanizing occult forces found especially in Nature and good people -- reconciles science and religion. Such magic is both effective and spiritual. I wouldn't expect it to do much for smallpox or a congenital birth defect, but maybe it might help some personality disorders.

A Secret Garden is like one's Fort, isn't it? :)

Tom
Spoiler! I suppose this is the obvious conclusion given the theosophical themes. Yet the interesting thing is how naturally the magic is presented, whereas the jaundiced outlook of ordinary life assumes that the sort of cosmic connectedness of the secret garden is impossible. The miracle here is not against nature but in tune with nature. 'Fort' is a surprising term to use , given its military associations, considering how the soft magic of nature has a vulnerability and openness that contrasts with traditional citadels, protected only by secrecy.

Here is a nice carol by Tschaikovsky that The Secret Garden reminded me of.

1. When Jesus Christ was yet a child,
He had a garden small and wild,
Wherein He cherished roses fair,
And wove them into garlands there.

2. Now once, as summer time drew nigh,
There came a troop of children by,
And seeing roses on the tree,
With shouts they pluck'd them merrily.

3. "Do you bind roses in your hair?"
They cried, in scorn, to Jesus there.
The Boy said humbly: "Take, I pray,
All but the naked thorns away."

4. Then of the thorns they made a crown,
And with rough fingers press'd it down,
Till on his forehead fair and young,
Red drops of blood, like roses sprung.

http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.co ... a_chil.htm

Happily Burnett is entirely positive in her magic, and does not give us the sort of dramatic confrontation with evil described in this poem.

RT



Tue Dec 09, 2008 1:54 am
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Hi Robert. I don't mean to spoil anything, and you misunderstand about the 'Fort'. Go to GentleReader9's blog to see her nonmilitary 'Fort'. Probably you have such a 'fort' too?

Also, I don't mean to tie Burnett just to Theosophy. She seems to have participated fully in the intellectual spirit of her era. Her views about a healing contact with nature are similar to ideas in Walden. Her ideas on mind control (in my experience) are now the dominant religion of America -- Norman Vincent Peale, Positive Thinking, PsychoCybernetics, Christian Science, Scientology, Edgar Cayce, . . . . The thoughts Burnett expressed in narrative are now public property. Even the Baptists are doing yoga.

The Secret Garden is resonant on many levels. Skipping the Freudian aspects, surely Burnett intends for us to draw parallels to the Garden of Eden (mankind's reconciliation with the animals in Dickon), and since Christmas is a-coming, the baby birds in the Robin's nest like Christ in the manger.

Tom

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Vincent_Peale

I read Burnett's The White People as background for The Secret Garden. It's the best defense of spiritualism I've seen.



Tue Dec 09, 2008 8:46 am
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Hi Tom, what I meant was that talking about the novel's conclusion could spoil the story for those still reading it. In this case it probably doesn't matter - it is not like giving away the plot of a whodunnit. I find it interesting that there is no real dramatic tension in the book, no antagonist who seeks to deny the central message of the power of positive thinking, but rather a didactic wonderment at the healing of Colin and Mary. As well, although she talks about magic, it is not in any supernatural or impossible sense, but rather in the sense that achieving wholeness and reconciliation with nature produces a sort of miraculous energy.

Thanks for the references on mind control. You are probably right about this as a dominant religion in the USA. However, Burnett's relation to the politics of this movement seems rather complex. She argues that negative thought alienates us from our true essence, which can be restored through contact with nature. I find it interesting to set this against the recent discussion here on Bacevich, who is a supremely negative thinker. Perhaps the greatest positive fantasist was Ronald Reagan with his dreams of endless wealth magically flowing from the barrel of a gun. Burnett seems rather different in calling for positive vision to be grounded in a link with nature.



Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:24 pm
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Robert Tulip wrote:
. . .there is no real dramatic tension in the book, no antagonist who seeks to deny the central message of the power of positive thinking. . . .


But in a way, Robert, there is. The conflict is between negative thinking that causes illness and social disharmony and positive thinking that brings health and good will, and the issue of which would triumph is in doubt until near the end of the book. Will the subtle influences of Nature and good people be sufficient to alter the mindset of Mary, Colin, and Archibald?

Tom



Tue Dec 09, 2008 8:59 pm
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The sorrow of grief pushes Craven to bottle his memory by closing the garden. The robin redbreast shows Mary the key and door to allow the cosmic energy of place to include humanity. When Dickon appears sitting with his back to an old tree in the secret garden, he has a unity with nature, almost as if the roots and wood and leaves of the tree embrace him and speak through him. Trees inhabit places with a steady sense of the rhythm of time over many seasons. Burnett is pointing to a tao in England, a way of truth barely seen but existing in wild animal and plant life, in their sureness of place and natural grace. The idea of magic, as in Yeats' The Stolen Child, illustrates a forgotten cosmic unity with nature, a natural human energy. Burnett's goal appears to be to achieve the aim of theosophy to speak the wisdom of god. As a theosophical work of psychoanalysis of english culture, The Secret Garden is saying that repression of true nature, here shown through grief and abandonment, causes spiritual problems, but that people can work through the barriers of illusion and find accord with their existential reality in nature.



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Robert Tulip wrote:
Burnett is pointing to a tao in England, a way of truth barely seen but existing in wild animal and plant life, in their sureness of place and natural grace.


Robert, I agree with you about this. The children do exercises suggestive of tai chi and yoga. This return to vitality in Nature (prana or chi (qi)) vitalizes them. People become devitalized when they lose contact with their roots. Thus, the importance of speaking Yorkshire broad dialect.

Burnett got energy by returning to her own roots in her writing, I think. The hunger and loss of contact with Nature in The Secret Garden is her experience in the slums of Manchester. The healing influence of animals seems especially realistic.

"Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."

Tom



Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:01 am
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Well, my way of looking at that 'secret garden', is to think of that 'centre' the Buddhists encourage us to look at.

Within ourselves. That place from which we see the all.

This has been a wonderful read for me.

Tear burst from my eyes as I listened to the last audio file just now - I pictured the father and son walking toward the house, and was overjoyed at the way the author chose to end the story.

:bow:



Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:41 am
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I ended this book with the impression that the main character in this story is one that does not appear in person - Mrs Craven. Her character is central to the plot, she is the connective tissue between the other characters and she is central to the deeper philosophical interpretations that have been discussed here. In that sense, she is the secret garden.



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giselle wrote:
I ended this book with the impression that the main character in this story is one that does not appear in person - Mrs Craven. Her character is central to the plot, she is the connective tissue between the other characters and she is central to the deeper philosophical interpretations that have been discussed here. In that sense, she is the secret garden.


That is a good point. Just as Mrs. Craven's spirit is the muse of the story -- the spirit working in the background to bring everything to fulfilment -- so perhaps Frances Hodgson Burnett thought of her own departed mother as her inspiring muse. The Hodgsons had once operated a successful interior decorating business in Manchester, so Frances's mother is likely to have been a person of taste, maybe with her own garden. Burnett's book The White People -- no racism involved -- describes the conditions favorable for seeing ghosts.

Tom



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This book reminds me of a discussion my friends and I had about the book, The Secret. From what they told me it is all about positive thinking. If you believe good will come to you it will. But if you think you are going to die, as in Colin's case, you will die. The mind is a powerful thing. I have heard so many stories both in the news and personal ones about people overcoming cancer with positive thoughts. Don't get me wrong, I understand that modern medicine is the way to go but never underestimate the power of the mind.

I have throughly enjoyed this book and plan on reading it to my nephews and nieces when they are older. They are 6 (but he is in Philly right now), 1 yr (but she is San Diego) and 6mos. ( I doubt he would even remember me reading it to him. LOL


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