Critical Evaluation (Masterplots: Revised Category Edition)
Although THE NAPOLEON OF NOTTING HILL is at first glance an amiable fantasy and satire on staid government, its appeal to romance is a solid criticism of seriousness. In the early twentieth century, when Great Britain was at the height of a peaceful prosperity, it seemed that law and order would eventually swallow up eccentricity and puckish fun. G. K. Chesteron rebelled against orderly progress from precedent to precedent and struck a vigorous blow for human worth.
The two major characters of Chesterton’s work enliven a drab world with humor and tyranny. Quinn refuses to take seriously either his office (King of England) or himself. He discerns the comic dimension in everything and cavorts ridiculously in order to point out life’s folly. Only one person takes him seriously. He is Adam Wayne.
Adam Wayne was born and reared within the slum neighborhood of Notting Hill. His fantasies of its beauty are unaffected by experience and vastly enhanced by a chance encounter. When Adam was a boy, he defended his make-believe territory with his make-believe armour and wooden sword and struck the trespassing king who happened by. The king easily slipped into Wayne’s fantasy and admonished him to defend his kingdom forever.
Ten years later when the king’s foolishness has produced small medieval neighborhood kingdoms, Wayne again emerges. He is the only man in the kingdom to revel in the king’s commands. He is in title and in...
(The entire section is 444 words.)