The Secret Garden
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Contributed by Vernita Mires
Motifs are devices or structures that are used by artists or authors to help in the development of a theme.
The Yorkshire Dialect 

Several times throughout the story the Yorkshire accent spoken by the working class, such as the Sowerby family, is mentioned. Mary, who has been accustomed to the proper British English that she was raised with in India is enchanted by this dialect and often tries to mimic the way her crush Dickon Sowerby speaks. Mary's attempt at the accent shows how she is quick to shed her upper-class sensibility so as to better bond with her new friends at the manor. This motif is meant to evoke themes of class differences that are less of a barrier between children than between adults.

Colin's Eyes

There are multiple references to Colin Craven's eyes, which are described to be hauntingly similar to the eyes of his deceased mother. This is initially shown to be a burden to Colin, whose resemblance to his mother has caused him to be associated with grief and tragedy by his own father. Colin hides his mother's portrait in his bedroom as he doesn't wish to meet her happy look, feeling an underlying resentment towards her for his own poor health. Yet as Colin gets better and starts visiting Mrs. Craven's favorite garden, this bitterness disappears and finally Colin uncovers the painting of his mother, able to meet her gaze.


In a few instances, the characters in The Secret Garden share special songs with each other. For instance, Mary sings a peaceful lullaby for Colin to calm him from his emotional meltdown. Colin is thankful for this song as it helps him relax and realize the absurdity of his tantrum. In the garden, Dickon presents the Doxology, a Christian hymn about praising God and His creation, which makes the children feel the presence of magic. These songs serve to connect the characters and inspire them to form a new perspective.

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