The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells

door3H.G. Wells  (1866 – 1946) is perhaps better known for stories such as The Island of Doctor MoreauThe Time Machine, The War of the Worlds or The Invisible Man.

Along with Jules Verne he now receives the most recognition for his science fiction novels and is considered one of the fathers of science fiction. The Door in the Wall isn’t as popular as the above, however it is just as intriguing.

The story is about a young boy who finds a world of pure imagination behind a small door in a wall one day. He uses it to escape his world of loneliness and neglect. As he gets older he finds it increasingly difficult to cope with the thought that he might not be able go through the door ever again. Simultaneously the story is also about whether the listener, Redmond, believes Wallace and believes in the existence of the world behind the door.

He told it me with such a direct simplicity of conviction that I could not do otherwise than believe in him. I believe now, as I believed at the moment of telling, that Wallace did to the very best of his ability strip the truth of his secret for me. 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.

Even from the very beginning Redmond isn’t sure whether to believe Wallace. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to believe in place beyond the boundaries of our reality. Pure escapism and freedom from pain.

it isn’t a case of ghosts or apparitions—but—it’s an odd thing to tell of, Redmond—I am haunted. I am haunted by something—that rather takes the light out of things, that fills me with longings… ”

he began to tell of the thing that was hidden in his life, the haunting memory of a beauty and a happiness that filled his heart with insatiable longings, that made all the interests and spectacle of worldly life seem dull and tedious and vain to him.

Redmond had heard about the door in the wall while he was in at school with Wallace and the second time was shortly before Wallace died.

To him at least the Door in the Wall was a real door, leading through a real wall to immortal realities.

Wallace lost his mother at the age of two and was subsequently raised by a less than nurturing nursery nurse. His father was a preoccupied a man, who gave him little or no attention at all. It comes as no surprise that he was able to wander off one day.

As his memory of that childish experience ran, he did at the very first sight of that door experience a peculiar emotion, an attraction, a desire to get to the door and open it and walk in

At the same time his gut instinct was telling him not to open the green door in the white wall.Wallace got up all his courage, made a run for it and burst through the door into a garden.

And so, in a trice, he came into the garden that has haunted all his life. there were two great panthers there these two huge velvety beasts were playing there with a ball.  It came right up to me, rubbed its soft round ear very gently against the small hand I held out, and purred. It was, I tell you, an enchanted garden.

Wallace felt safe for the first time in his life. The garden was a place of warmth and happiness, away from the realities of his harsh and cold life.

I forgot the sort of gravitational pull back to the discipline and obedience of home, I forgot all hesitations and fear, forgot discretion, forgot all the intimate realities of this life. I became in a moment a very glad and wonder-happy little boy—in another world.

The garden was filled with creatures and people. All of them filled with good intent and joy. Wallace was a lonely little boy with no friends, and for the first time he found actual playmates.

Then presently came a sombre dark woman, with a grave, pale face and dreamy eyes, a sombre woman, wearing a soft long robe of pale purple, who carried a book,She took me to a seat in the gallery, and I stood beside her, ready to look at her book as she opened it upon her knee. The pages fell open. She pointed, and I looked,

In this book was the story of his life, the realities as he called them. The death of his mother, his stern father and the cold nurse. The book depicts his running away from home and finding the green door. However in the book there is no garden, no beautiful creatures, no playmates or a happy little boy for that matter.

I was there, a wretched little figure, weeping aloud, for all that I could do to restrain myself, and I was weeping because I could not return to my dear playfellows who had called after me, ‘Come back to us!

Instead the book shows the lonely inconsolable wee boy on the streets of West Kensington.

As I realised the fullness of what had happened to me, I gave way to quite ungovernable grief. And the shame and humiliation of that public weeping and my disgraceful home-coming remain with me still. Sobbing, conspicuous, and frightened, I came back from the enchanted garden to the steps of my father’s house.

Wallace tried to tell everyone what he had experienced, but their reactions were less than pleasurable. He received a thrashing from his father, punishment for sticking to his story and from that point forward all books with any kind of fairytale were banned from his home.

my story was driven back upon myself. I whispered it to my pillow—my pillow that was often damp and salt to my whispering lips with childish tears. And I added always to my official and less fervent prayers this one heartfelt request: ‘Please God I may dream of the garden. Oh! take me back to my garden!’ Take me back to my garden!

Wallace searched for the door, in school he created a game of seek and find with the ultimate goal being the discovery of the door again. When he did he incorporated the discovery into his daily routine. Of course, at the time he had no idea it wouldn’t always be there.

Then one day he could no longer keep his secret to himself and made the mistake of telling a fellow pupil, who in turn told everyone else. The school bullies decided to force the young boy into revealing this amazing door and fantastical garden, however it ended in embarrassment and tears. The door was not to be found.

It leapt upon me for the third time—as I was driving to Paddington on my way to Oxford and a scholarship. I had just one momentary glimpse.

He decided to ignore the third glimpse of the door in favour of the academic path his father wanted for him. A choice he would make over and over again. Sensible above actual desires.

I have dreamt of the enchanted garden a thousand dreams, and seen its door, or at least glimpsed its door, four times since then. Yes—four times.

Each time he put reality before the door. A firm choice to abide by the rules that were beaten into him as a child. No flights of fantasy, no escapes into other worlds.

I began a little while ago to want the garden quite badly. Yes—and I’ve seen it three times.” “The garden?” “No—the door! And I haven’t gone in!” I will go and never return. This time I will stay… I swore it, and when the time came—I didn’t go.

His urgency for the door grows as the years go on. The older he gets the greater the need. The door has become a sot of utopia for Wallace.

“Here I am!” he repeated, “and my chance has gone from me. Three times in one year the door has been offered me—the door that goes into peace, into delight, into a beauty beyond dreaming, a kindness no man on earth can know. And I have rejected it, Redmond, and it has gone. My soul is full of inappeasable regrets. At nights—when it is less likely I shall be recognised—I go out. I wander.

During one of his many wanders or searches he finally stumbles upon what he believes to be the door. Who knows whether it it was or not. It depends on what you believe.

They found his body very early yesterday morning in a deep excavation near East Kensington Station. It is one of two shafts that have been made in connection with an extension of the railway southward. It is protected from the intrusion of the public by a hoarding upon the high road, in which a small doorway has been cut for the convenience of some of the workmen who live in that direction. The doorway was left unfastened through a misunderstanding between two gangers, and through it he made his way…

Was there, after all, ever any green door in the wall at all? By our daylight standard he walked out of security into darkness, danger, and death. But did he see it like that?

Let me tell you what I liked about this particular story. It is the epitome of the way society deals with life and things we can’t explain. A perfect way to describe the way some of us need to escape the harsh reality of life by conjuring up a world of fantasy, especially in the small world of a frightened and neglected child. It is also the perfect way to describe how we react to things we simply can’t explain away with science or logic.Things beyond our worlds of imagination. Beautiful gardens with velvety animals and friends for lonely children and people, hidden behind small doors in the middle of walls. Somewhere, out there..perhaps there waits a door…

Read The Door in the Wall, The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor MoreauThe Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds or A Modern Utopia. Alternatively you can listen to The Discovery of the Future, God the Invisible King, The Door in the Wall or Tales of Space and Time at Librivox.

Download ThemSouth Sea TalesThe Master MagicianLove InsuranceHappy Turkey Day,Horror and Spice, and all things niceWonders of the Invisible World, Prelinger Part 2: Healthy HabitsThe Last Man, Prelinger Archives Pt.1 Teen Feelings, Wuthering HeightsClassical Music and the Public DomainExploring the Heart of DarknessFather’s Little DividendDecadence without DifficultyRoads of DestinyThe Capture of a Slaver, How it Feels to Die, by One Who has Tried ItMysticism and LogicThe Scarecrow of Oz, Dressed to Kill or The Silence, the Solitude and the Shame of Oscar Wilde right here on the blog.

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