The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

There is in a sense only one fully realized character in The Green Man, and that is the narrator. Since he tells the story, the reader tends naturally to side with him, amused by his repeated furies over careless staff, boring conversations, and tedious television programs. Events, though, start to turn against Allington quite soon, and especially over sexuality. Allington is highly sexed, by reputation and in fact, and early in the novel succeeds in seducing Diana Maybury, his doctor’s wife, a woman he quite clearly despises. The reader may go along with his own feelings of delight and triumph on this occasion; but doubts begin to surface as Allington goes straight on from this success to try to organize an “orgy” involving himself, his wife, and Diana simultaneously, and perhaps with even more force as the reader comes to realize that Allington has no insight into Diana’s psychology at all. She hates her husband; everybody else remarks that this is obvious, yet Allington has never noticed. He is very good, in short, at persuading other people, very bad at observing them. Although he appears sympathetic, is he not in fact a cynical manipulator?

If so, that may be one reason why the evil Underhill has decided to exert pressure on him rather than on any previous owner of the house. Underhill’s psychology is revealed through a diary which Allington locates and reads in a college library at Cambridge University, and it is based first on a...

(The entire section is 562 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Maurice Allington

Maurice Allington, the narrator, the fifty-three-year-old innkeeper of The Green Man in Hertfordshire. He was abandoned, three years earlier, by his first wife after twenty-two years of marriage. She took their ten-year-old daughter, Amy, with her. When the woman died in an automobile accident, however, he recovered custody. Since then, he has not been able to discover much common ground with Amy or to interest his second wife in taking over the role of mother. Moreover, this second marriage is not providing significantly more companionship than did the first. Maurice drinks to excess (more than a bottle of whiskey a day) and typically spends much of his time trying to figure out ways in which to avoid his wife. From the outset of the novel, he lusts after the wife of his physician; as soon as he succeeds in seducing her, he immediately begins plotting a sexual threesome involving his wife and this woman. To make matters worse, his eighty-year-old father, who lives with them, has just suffered a third stroke, and a series of mishaps threatens the operation of the inn. At this point, several apparitions appear, almost exclusively to Allington and apparently somehow related to his state of mind. There are three particular apparitions: a red-haired woman, supposedly murdered by her husband in the 1680’s; Dr. Thomas Underhill, the alleged murderer of the woman and at least one other, whose spirit is still trying to work evil even after death; and The Green Man, composed of vegetation and capable of acting out his controller’s will.

Joyce Allington

Joyce Allington, the second wife of Maurice. An attractive,...

(The entire section is 683 words.)