In 'The Door in the Wall,' what method or methods of characterization does the author use to give the reader an image of Wallace?

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Posted on (Answer #1)

Wells chooses to filter the character of Lionel Wallace, the protagonist, through the narrator Redmond. Therefore our view of him is coloured entirely by the information that Redmond relays to us about him.

Wallace is apparently a very successful and prominent politician, but we never see this side of him. Instead Redmond, a personal friend, focuses entirely on his private side, and most of all on the extraordinary story which he once confided about a mysterious door in a wall leading to a beautiful garden, the vision of which has haunted him all his life. Redmond, being a friend of his, is sympathetic towards him and his story, and Redmond’s attitude influences the reader.

In Redmond’s view Wallace comes across as someone who is quiet, cultured, sensitive, and certainly not the type to lie willfully. After Wallaces’ death, apparently in pursuit of the visionary garden, Redmond vouches for his truthfulness, which makes us trust him too.

However, what Redmond cannot do is to prove or disprove whether the garden existed anywhere outside of Wallace’s own imagination, as is clear from the quote below.

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.

Redmond, therefore, is quite at a loss to explain the nature of Wallace’s vision, and the reader is left similarly perplexed. The story is rooted in this ambivalence; is Wallace a ‘victim’ of a mere ‘dream’ or the ‘possessor’ of some otherworldly realm leading to happiness and fulfillment? The story never clears up this matter, or even tries to, and this makes it intriguing. 


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