Symbolism In The Secret Garden

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The Secret Garden is constructed as highly idealized, fertile, and preindustrial. It provides an alternative and potentially subversive space in which children can act without supervision, even if only temporarily and certainly not without limits. This physical setting facilitates several utopian visions as theorized by Foucault. The secret garden draws heavily on features of the hortus conclusus (Borgmaier 18). Its walls are thus particularly important; they marginalize the adult characters, who, as Ang concludes, are bound to “stay on the periphery” (123). Inside the garden Mary feels securely isolated, “almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place” (Burnett 94). As “its beautiful old walls shut her in[,] no one knew where she was,” and so Mary feels as if “she had found a world all her own” (94,83).…show more content…
This feature of the garden corresponds to Foucault’s notion that the “heterotopic site is not freely accessible like a public place” and therefore “always presupposes a system of opening and closing that both isolates [it] and makes [it] penetrable” (26). Accordingly, the children gain control over the garden, as Gillian Adams notes, “by granting access to the secret to a privileged few” (303). Thus, the secret Garden is divided into two worlds; the world of adults and the world of children. The children form their own elite group in order to revive the garden. Their world rejects adults unless they offer help to achieve the
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