The Beautiful Suit by H.G. Wells
In The Beautiful Suit by H.G. Wells we have the theme of desire, happiness, control, suppression, hope and freedom. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realises after reading the story that Wells may be exploring the theme of desire. The little man (or boy) longs to wear his suit as often as he can. The reader sensing that should the boy be allowed to wear the suit he would wear it every day. Such is the boy’s affection for the suit. However the boy’s mother does not allow him to wear the suit unless it is a special occasion. This may be important as by limiting the boy’s use of the suit Wells may be suggesting that the boy’s desires are being suppressed by his mother. It might also be important that the boy until he is unable to resist the urge to wear the suit does follow his mother’s instructions. As this could highlight the fact that the boy despite being suppressed is compliant to his mother’s wishes. If anything there is a sense that the boy is being controlled by his mother. He is not allowed the freedom to decide himself when he can wear the suit.
This could be important as it is possible that Wells is placing a spotlight on society itself. How some people have authority or control over others. Though some critics may suggest that it would be normal for a parent to have authority or control over their children Wells may be suggesting that the type of control may be the issue not the fact that the parent or society has control. There is no doubting that the suit brings happiness to the boy. Which is the very reason as to why he wants to wear the suit as often as he can. It is possible that the boy’s happiness or an individual’s happiness does not take precedence over what societal norms may be. It is as though the boy’s happiness or the possibility to be happy is being compromised by his mother. Though she herself may not be fully aware of the consequences or her actions. To her the suit is something to be worn on a special occasion. While for the boy the suit may represent or symbolise his strong desire to be happy as often as he can. Something which would be very natural for a child.
The buttons on the suit may also be symbolically significant as they may represent the boy’s hopes. Something that is clearer to the reader when the tissue is removed from the buttons. It is as though the boy has been liberated. Just as the buttons are free to shine so too is the boy free. No longer restricted or confined to his mother’s instructions or societal norms. The garden itself could also be important as the boy faces obstacles when he is in the garden but he perseveres and overcomes each obstacle which in many ways mirrors the restrictions his mother (or society) has imposed on him. Again the boy is free to do as he pleases. Something that every child would wish to be able to do. To live their life as free as they can. Though some critics may suggest that the boy is acting as though he may be unstable it is possible that the boy is simply happy to be able to wear his suit. If anything the boy is allowed to be a child. He is no longer suppressed by others.
It is also noticeable that the boy is completely carefree and oblivious to any damage he may be doing to the suit while he is in the garden. Were some critics would suggest the suit has lost its beauty because it is being destroyed by the boy. It may be a case that the suit regardless of its condition has not only liberated the boy but allowed him to be a child without the restrictions that were imposed on him. The end of the story is also interesting. Though the boy dies the reader does realise that the boy died happy. Were previously the boy had lived his life frustrated because of his mother’s instructions this is not the case in the boy’s death. Not only did he die happy but the boy died free. In many ways the boy has rebelled against his mother by wearing the suit and running through the garden. Something that some readers might find admirable. It might also be important that even though the boy died young his last moments in life were as he wanted to life his life. Rather than looking on the story tragically Wells may be suggesting or highlighting the importance of freedom to the individual. Which may leave some readers feeling that it is better to live a short life and be free than to grow old and be restricted by societal norms.