Literary Analysis Essay of E.B. White’s ‘The Door’

Literary Analysis Essay of E.B. White’s ‘The Door’

‘The Door’ is a short story written by E.B. White. The focal point of the story brings readers to the mind of the protagonist as he tries to understand the challenges of living within an enclosed room and finding the door that would bring him out. Within this journey, the piece highlights the interaction of the persona with the female guide to his realization that his experience can be compared to that of a laboratory rat. As the protagonist is able to find the door in the end, the experience forever changes the person and rather than changing his life for the better, he is remains stuck with negative emotions of misery and despair.

One of the themes presented by E.B. White in his piece corresponds to the confusing nature of the speaker of the story. Operating from the point of view of the narrator, White allows readers to understand what is going on inside the head of the person. Though this does not necessarily apply most of the time due to the author’s effective use of words, the piece demonstrates the incoherence and unstable nature of the person, specifically on his perceptions surrounding the complexities of life (Kaplan 1). Likewise, the confusion moves further as the story progresses wherein the White muddles reality further particularly the direction the speaker has gone. Given the changing rules and responses during a particular moment, it goes back again to the symbolisms at the beginning which further muddle the outcome but at the same time brings finality to the piece.

Another important aspect portrayed by the story is the notion of escapism. White in this piece provides ways for readers to understand the dilemma felt by the protagonist as he tries to find ways to escape from the urban environment he was situated. The challenge of finding the door to breakout of this feeling can also be supplemented with the author’s feeling like he is a laboratory rat given instructions to follow a maze (Root 10). In the end, the protagonist is able to find the door however he continues to feel trapped within the system. This then goes to show that amidst the objective of escape, this is not possible anymore as the system has made the protagonist feel alienated and miserable about the outcome all these experience has created in his life.

Lastly, the use of the rat as a metaphor is also evident in the story. The rat in the piece remains to be symbolic because of its ability to demonstrate an individual who is controlled to do the liking of others. The rat in the story arguably shows a person who blindly follows the different social systems. That is why when the protagonist is able to find the door, he continues to feel helpless, alone and miserable because of the harshness of the journey towards the end (White 1). One way of looking at this struggle comes from the continuing inclination of man to technology and how it has shifted the manner of communication within the urban environment. This symbolism alongside the clever use of language by White provides further emphasis to the struggle experienced by protagonist in the story.

Overall, E.B. White’s piece ‘The Door’ remains to be a complex piece that provides a critical perspective with the inner struggles of the man. The use of the non-linear style of storytelling by the author, clever use of language and metaphors all constitute to the promotion of its themes related to confusion and escapism. By bringing together these features, the story is able to capture the unique experience of the protagonist and how such interaction with his mind has brought forward feelings of desolation and misery.

Works Cited

Kaplan, Matt. ‘The Door by EB White’ Prezi. 7 Oct. 2013. Web. Accessed 2 September 2014.

Root, Robert. E.B. White: The Emergence of an Essayist. Iowa: University of Iowa Press. 1999.


White, E.B. ‘The Door’ Classic Shorts. n.d. Web. Accessed 2 September 2014.