DOOR IN THE WALL - Miss Thompson Media

The whole text on-line
By H.G. Wells.
• H. G. Wells' short story "The Door in the Wall" was first
published in 1911 as part of a collection titled The Door in the
Wall, and Other Stories. The conflict between science and
imagination is the major theme of the story, which was
enormously popular when it first appeared. Today Wells'
reputation rests almost entirely upon his science fiction novels,
which include The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Dr.
Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the
Worlds (1898), all of which are acknowledged classics of the
science fiction genre and continue to be widely read and
adapted into other media. "The Door in the Wall" is considered
by both readers and critics to be Wells' finest short story.
• "The Door in the Wall" examines an issue to which Wells returned
repeatedly in his writing: the contrast between aesthetics and
science and the difficulty of choosing between them. The
protagonist, Lionel Wallace, possesses a vivid imagination but
goes into politics, where he is considered extremely rational.
Wells himself was both a trained scientist and a writer of fiction,
and this theme recurs in several guises in Wells's work. The story
suggests both the magic and the danger of a nostalgia for a
buried time. It is a story about politician Wallace who, while
growing up in a joyless home, discovers a door in a wall leading
to an enchanted garden. Wells's recurrent theme of science
versus art is part of a wider contrast between the rational and
the imaginative elements of experience. Wells has often been
seen as being caught on an intellectual battleground between his
scientific training in rational thought and his gift of a vivid
imagination. Wallace's inability to bridge the gap between his
imagination and his rational, scientific side leads to his death.
• Use pg 84 – 85 to describe Lionel Wallace and list all the facts about
him that we are told in the story.
• Use pg 86 -87 to sketch the ‘enchanted garden’, use the descriptions
in the story to inform your picture – and annotate your images with
quotations from the text.
• Narrative style is…? Similar to which other story we have studied?
• This is a story within a story – narrator re-telling a story which he
wants to “suggest, present, convey…” to the reader, and let the
reader “judge for himself”.
• Keep a list of events as they occur in the story – literal recounting of
the plot.
• How old is Lionel Wallace?
• What is his occupation?
• What school did he and the narrator go to?
• Redmond, the friend of the protagonist Lionel Wallace narrates the
story of “The Door in the Wall”. In the beginning of the story,
Wallace mentions about his ‘lonely’ childhood until one day when
he wandered off from home and into the streets of London where
he saw a green door next to the white wall. Wallace is instantly
drawn to the ‘door in the wall’ after the first time seeing it and that
he wanted to open it. However, due to his family who have high
expectations and strict upbringing towards Wallace. Wallace
didn’t dare to open the ‘door in the wall’ and that from that day on
Wallace is tempted and keeps the secret of ‘the door in the wall’
and fantasize about the enchanted world of behind the wall.
• Wallace mentions about the ‘the door in the wall’ to his father
and then he gets punished and as a result of his punishment he
surpresses his memory of ‘the door in the wall’ but he often
dreams of revisiting the place. Wallace told Redmond that he
has passed by ‘the door in the wall’ three times in the past year
and that his soul ‘is full of unappeasable regrets’ because of it.
One morning a few months later, Wallace is found dead as he
mistaken a door at a dangerous construction site as ‘the door in
the wall’
• The door in the wall
• - Garden: beautiful, rich with flora, enormous, Lionel’s ideal
world and paradise, reflects his own deprived childhood
• -Gallery: shows Lionel the story of his life so far and offers him
a glimpse into his future
• -Panthers: suggests that to stay in England where he spent his
traumatised childhood and wants to travel (escape) to
somewhere he can forget his past
• What is the enchanted garden a metaphor for?
• -Construction site: causes his death, symbolises a construction
site for his childhood dreams
• -School: Lionel was often bullied which caused him to fantasise
about his secret dream world more often
• -House: His mother’s death and his father’s estrangement
caused him to start imagining the world behind the “Door in the
-meets old friend Wallace for a dinner one night and learns the story of the
door in the wall, but is not sure if he should believe his friends wile tale“But
whether he himself saw, or only thought he saw, whether he himself was the
possessor of an inestimable privilege, or the victim of a fantastic dream, I
cannot pretend to guess.” This unwillingness to judge shows his sense of
sympathy towards Wallace
- represents the story of reason , making Wallaces story more believable
because it is told by what readers assume is a reliable narrator. Furthermore,
because Redmond is relating the tale, readers also learn of Wallaces
strange death, which seems to verify the tale Wallace tells him at dinner.
Redmond’s account of the story also lends it a tragic tone because it is
related after Wallace’s death — a feat not possible if Wallace himself was
the narrator.
-protangonist and politician
-lived a joyless life as a child and discovers a door which leads to a visionary garden of
-His cautious nature is shown by his trepidation upon encountering the door, because he
knows his father will be angry if he opens it. A child of a strict, Victorian upbringing,
Wallace has been conditioned to deny his imagination and put all his effort into becoming
successful. Nevertheless, the young Wallace gives in to the temptation — not yet having
mastered self-control — and opens the door in the wall, and finds himself in an enchanted
garden filled with beautiful flowers, tamed panthers, and friendly children. When Wallace
tells his father about the garden, his father punishes him for lying, causing Wallace to
suppress the memory of the garden.
-Throughout his life, Wallace sees a similar door a few times, but he is too driven by his
ambition for worldly success to stop and open it. Now, at age 39 and very successful,
Wallace regrets passing up the garden and vows to stop the next time he sees the door.
This regret illustrates his desire to give in to imagination and to break free from his rational
life. Wallace’s inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy, however, is demonstrated
at the story’s end when he is found dead at a construction site, having apparently mistaken
a workmen’s door for the door to his garden.
• First person perspective: “The Door in the Wall” is told from the
point of view of Redmond, Wallace’s friend. Redmond speaks
in the first person (“I”) as he relates Wallace’s story. Through
the sensible, trustworthy voice of Redmond, the narrator, the
reader is more willing to believe in Wallace’s fantastic story.
This particular point of view also allows the reader to find out
about Wallace’s death, something that would not have been
possible if Wallace told the story himself.
• Story written chronologically: The character Wallace reviews
his life from past to present in chronological order through the
story, providing the reader to formulate their own idea of the
‘the door in the wall’.
• Use of colour symbols:
• The symbolic colors in this passage reinforce the contrasting
masculine/feminine symbols on which so much of the story hinges.
• The amber sunshine and red creeper (masculine, virile, dominant) is
juxtaposed with the whiteness of the wall (moon, feminine).
• Psychologists claims that leaves are a symbol of happiness. The leaves are
described by Wallace as being “blotched yellow and green,” suggesting
that his happiness is short-lived.
• This is proved by the quote: “the haunting memory of a beauty and
happiness that filled his heart with insatiable longings, that made all the
interests and spectacle of worldly life seem full and tedious and vain to him.”
which states that although Wallace is exceptionally happy inside the garden,
he never regains his sense of delight outside of it, and for the remainder of
his life he is tormented with the memory.
• Ends with a question: To provide an uncertainty to the reader’s
view, a point for the reader to argue about. It makes the ending
special and unforgettable as the reader is allowed to imagine
the real truth themselves. Is there really a door that leads to a
better place or is a place created by Wallace’s imagination as
a refuge to his sad childhood.
• Metaphor: A strong use of metaphor is used in this story to
illustrate to the reader about the metaphor of Wallace’s loneliness
and alienation. Wallace spends his life longing for the return of the
peaceful enchanted place. It is evident that this metaphor
emphasizes Wallace’s desire to return to an innocent time (i.e.
childhood/door in the wall). Find 6 examples/quotations.
• Fantasy: Fantasy literature often creates suspense and leaves
reader in a state where which events are caused by natural or
supernatural forces. In “The Door in the Wall” readers are pulled in
from a normal everyday situation into the fantasy world of ‘the
door in the wall’. Therefore, the readers unsure whether if Wallace
have visited the magical garden or is it created by his imagination.
Find 6 examples /quotations to support this.
• Symbols
• The white wall- is symbolised as Wallace’s desire for nurturing as
he did not experience good nurturing from his mother due to the
fact that she passed away when he was young. It is also a very
feminine symbol.
• The green door – is symbolised as fertility. The door itself is a
common literary symbol that represents the passageway between
the conscious and the unconscious.
• The amber sunshine- is symbolised as a masculine, dominant
symbol and that it is often juxtaposed with the white wall
• Think = make as long a list as you possibly can of all the themes
or key ideas or concerns in the story.
• Pair = add to your list – then rank the ideas in order of 1st
(most important) to last.
• Share = whole class to give their top 3 or 4 themes
1. Importance of imagination / Fantasy / Fantasy vs common
sense / Imagination vs rationality /
2. Alienation / loneliness / Obligations in life / freedom vs
expectations /childhood / nostalgia
3. Fulfilment / Science vs faith
• Loneliness: Wallace estranged from his father, no real
friends, bullied and as a result he escapes to ‘the door in the
wall’, his escape from reality.
• Insanity: Towards the end, Wallace becomes deranged as he
once again tries to find the door in the wall.
• Childhood: Wants to experience a ‘real’ childhood
• Power and Imagination: Wallace believes ‘the door in the
wall’ to be real, overpowers reality. Fantasy has taken over
his life.
• Reality vs. Imagination: As if the alternative universe was
real(door in the wall)
Part One
Part Two

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