The Nature of the House
The nature of the House has largely been overlooked in favor of focusing on the identity of the “Guide,” but the House is a character in its own right with six primary characteristics:
First, the House in a state of spatial flux. In the prologue the “Guide” muses, “Even I get lost. It changes – sometimes slowly, imperceptibly…sometimes suddenly. The House is not only made of stone and mortar, wood and paint; it is made of time and mystery, hope and fear. Construction never stops. I take some pride in my role as architect.” This plays no role in the arrangement of the rooms in the book. In the book we experience as part of the House that is, for the moment, stable.
Second, the House is huge. As the “Guide” muses in the prologue, “The monstrous walls rise up and run away as far as the human eye can see, circling and dividing.” In Room 5 the “Guide” muses, “There are one hundred and ninety doors in this part of the House, counting the gate…enough for everyone.” In the book we experience a small part of the House which presumably has been growing as it changes to reach its present colossal size.
Third, the House is in a state of temporal flux. In Room 10 we read, “Faint voices, apparently in argument, came from behind the locked door. “You know,” said one, “that sounds like us in there.” They tried the door but, naturally, it wouldn’t open. The voices stopped when the doorknob rattled.” Then in Room 37 we read, “They were close to splitting up when there was a rattling sound and one of the doors was shaken from the other side. They all stopped talking and moved closer together.” From this we can gather that the door was separating the group from itself at a different point in time. This conclusion is reinforced by the text of Room 13 in which the “Guide” says, “It takes a great deal of experience, more than they possessed, to understand how time works in the Maze.”
Fourth, the House is essentially a series of props and stages. Each room is a façade meant to convey a message via a riddle. Thus the House is not an actual house but a very dangerous theatre. As it says in Room 5, “ “Are these real?” they asked. I told them the trees are as real as anything else in the House.”
Fifth, while the House changes on its own, it is also being changed by the “Guide.” In the prologue the “Guide” thinks to himself, “I take some pride in my role as architect,” and in Room 27 the “Guide” muses “We could see that someone had been working here recently; the entrance I had so carefully hidden had been uncovered. I made a note to return as soon as I could to fill in the hole again.”
Lastly, the House is alive. As the House grows and changes so do the riddles. Thus the House can reason, implying that it has a goal. This is problematic, is the House evil or good? Are the House and the “Guide” in league with one another?
On the one hand, the arrangement of the House creates a trap which funnels visitors into Room 24, The Abyss. While the “Guide” enjoys the process of messing with the visitors (Room 30: “The more confused they became the more I enjoyed it.”) his ultimate goal is to lead the visitors to Room 24 (“Even my bellowing laughter could not fill this place.”). This arrangement suggests the House is evil, a lair for the “Guide” to play with and then trap visitors.
On the other hand, the House is filled with mountains of helpful clues and only a few red herrings. This appears to be in direct opposition with what the “Guide” muses in Room 17, “One should never accept the obvious here, if you think of the Maze as a machine, confusion is its product, and the machine was hard at work.”
This is my best guess: The House it is a very dangerous test with a good goal, creating a victor. Victory is nearly impossible but the House is attempting to both make victory achievable and difficult, like a rite of passage. Thus the House supplies both the traps and the warnings against the traps as it changes and grows. From this perspective the “Guide’s” statement about the House being a machine creating confusion is not false but it is not the whole truth either.
The “Guide” and the House are then at odds with one another in regards to their ultimate goals. The House wants to create a hero who passes the nearly impossible test. The “Guide” wants everyone trapped in darkness. But since the House desires for the test to be nearly impossible, and the “Guide” makes it harder, then the “Guide” is a welcome (adversarial) addition to the House.
Thus the House is primary and the “Guide” secondary. Basically the “Guide” is either an aspect of the House, or a welcome addition – as the “Guide” muses in Room 32, “I have come to think of all the inhabitants of this House as members of my little kingdom.” Put another way, the House is not his kingdom, but he has come to think of it as such over time.
Is this correct? I do not know.