The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells

In The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells we have the theme of escape, happiness, appearance, conflict, uncertainty, fear, doubt and regret. Narrated in the first person by a man called Redmond the story is a frame narrative and after reading the story the reader realises that Wells may be exploring the theme of escape. Wallace’s first encounter with the garden is a happy one. It is contrary to the life that he had been living as a child. His mother had died and his father was too busy to care for him due to work commitments. As such Wallace was open to a desire to escape from the realities around him. Whether the reader is to believe what happened Wallace the first time that he was in the garden is a different matter. Some critics might suggest that Wallace had an over active imagination. Though it is interesting that the narrator believes that Wallace was not lying. That Wallace may have been fortunate enough to have experienced something so unreal that it was unexplainable. However it is difficult for the reader to believe that Wallace continually forgot the location of the wall and the door. Though the existence in reality of the white wall and the green door may not be the most important element of the story.

What could be important is the feeling of security and happiness that Wallace felt when he thought of the garden. The world behind the green door was different to the world he was living. As to why Wallace never returned to the garden though he had several opportunities to do so may also be important. It is possible that Wells is suggesting that Wallace was too busy living his life. When he sees the door on his way to collect his scholarship. Wallace knows that he has to get his scholarship. Which in many ways is another form of escape for Wallace. Home life does not appear to have been happy for Wallace. So the opportunity to travel to university and to avoid having to remain at home is appealing to Wallace. Similarly when Wallace walks by the door with Gurker he is preoccupied with the possibility that he will have a place in government. Again this might suggest that Wallace has no need to escape into the garden due to the fact that he has elevated himself sufficiently in life. He is happy.

However there still remains a sense of regret for Wallace. So strong is the pull of the garden that Wallace has never forgotten it. It reminds him as mentioned of a place to escape to and a place where he will find happiness. It might also be worth noting that Wallace himself is unsure of what will happen him should he take the opportunity again to open the green door. There is an uncertainty in his mind about what will happen. This uncertainty may also be holding Wallace back. That and the possible conflict that may exist internally for Wallace. He himself may not be sure of what is real and what is not. He is a successful Politian who has risen through the ranks. It is not as though he would be fooled easily. Yet he hesitates so many times about going through the green door for a second time.  Which may suggest that Wallace is afraid of the consequences. Despite the happiness he previously felt when he first opened the door. Though Wallace would be considered by others to be a rational and successful man. He does appear to live his life in doubt.

The end of the story is also interesting as Wells appears to be suggesting through Wallace’s death that Wallace at the end of his life was unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. As coincidence would have it Wallace comes across a white wall and a green door while out walking and opens the door and plunges to his death. Which leaves the reader with the realization that Wallace could never let go of the garden he first encountered as a child. The memories of the garden and the happiness he felt drew Wallace to his death. However the reader is also left thinking that perhaps if Wallace had challenged himself previously when the opportunity arose to open the green door. Things may have been very different. He may have come to the realization that the garden he visited did not exist. Behind every green door that Wallace ignored lay something different because every green door was different. Maybe then Wallace would have done as others might have done and put the incident of the garden behind him. Understanding that what had happened was just something his imagination had conjured up due to the unhappiness he felt as a child. Instead Wallace choose to believe what his mind was telling him. That the garden was real and he paid the ultimate price for his belief. He lost his life.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 2 Mar. 2018. Web.


  • Thanks this was help for IGCSE examinations.

  • Very good text, thank you.

  • Can you describe the setting for the story ” The door in the Wall “.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      As far as I know it’s London and Cambridge and various gardens in London and Cambridge.

  • It seems odd that commentaries on this story consistently ignore its quasi-religious overtones (Wells would have been very familiar with biblical themes) and never mention the obvious metaphor for the garden as Heaven/paradise/Eden, the panthers that emulate the ‘lion laying down with the lamb’, the idealized mother in Heaven the child has lost and the almost angelic playmates and the happiness of Wallace. There is also the aspect of temptation – Wallace opens a door he knows he shouldn’t and pays for this with yearning and eventually death (a sin which leads to death). The temptations also come at pivotal moments in Wallace’s life when he is focused on worldly interests which eventually lose all interest for him. The only question is: is the garden actually a representation of a Heaven that can only be accessed through death, or is it a false temptation that leads only to death ? Discuss….without forgetting that Wallace as a child may perceive what lies behind the door as a very different proposition to its actuality to Wallace as an adult.

  • Can someone explain the Literary Elements in this story?

    • Actually, in this story,symbolism has great importance especially the colours which represents masculine and femine forces. The “clear amber sunshine” also plays an important role in the mind of Wallace as it gives a feeling of warmth. The symbolic colours in this story reinforce the contrasting masculine/feminine symbols anf the green door symbolizes fertility, it is the colour associated with Roman n Greek goddess of love. The leaves are described as “blotched yellow and green” suggesting that the happiness Wallace is receiving is temporary. The setting of the story and charactetisationcan be also literary devices…Another literary device is imagery which refers to the specific objects mentioned in the text such as The door itself and the book

  • I have an essay due tomorrow and this has helped me a lot. Very well written, and thank you! <3

  • How Wells makes use of symbolism to transmit the significance of the experience for the character?

  • Why is Wallace so convinced of the existence of the Door in the Wall?

  • i guess if i can have the answer of this question !!
    Why does the green door appear to Wallace when it does?

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