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.
This is more just an interesting note tha a theory, but when I learned of the game The Room (now a trilogy with a forth coming soon), the way the Null element interacted with space reminded me of how the House worked. I had produced a little headcanon for the purposes of my own amusement that they were mysteriously linked. (Then again, I do these kinds of things all the time. Lola from the song Copacabana? The same Lola as sung about by The Kinks. A very different kind of “showgirl,” hence Rico’s crassness with her. I have many more of these. I think it’s an Asperger’s thing, looking for patterns and all, as well as a storyteller’s trait trying to connect plots.)
To be clear – it is the early part of the song that seemed Maze-y – not the last bit. Lightning, birds, horns , demons and devils, etc… But as I look at lyrics I think I was wrong – it’s not really a good song for Maze.
Theseus, I wasn’t connecting any song to the maze
Why not, though?
It’s really a lot of fun connecting songs to MAZE rooms!
I made playlists for a handful of rooms (4, 13, 21, 23, 24) and for the Guide, which you can find on Mazecast > Aria’s blog.
Hello Gregor wrote and recorded a bunch of fantastic original MAZE-inspired songs, which you can also find on my blog or by searching for Jump Up and Jam on Bandcamp. (The album is called “Plangent Brio”.)
Thail Krider made an entire website out of deliberately impossible/implausible pop culture connections to Maze, but I can’t seem to find it now. Maybe if we keep using his name he’ll eventually appear.
One interpretation of the connection between Room 10 and Room 37 is that there is a time loop. Perhaps the group either traveled back in time and interacted with their future selves, or traveled forward in time and interacted with their past selves, or somehow all of their positions in the Maze exist roughly simultaneously.
However, one of my favorite explanations is not temporal. Perhaps there are multiple guides, and multiple groups of guests, that all behave in a similar manner. Thus, the groups in Room 10 and Room 37 are not interacting with their own selves, but with different groups of guests that are in the other rooms and behave similarly in similar situations. The idea of multiple guides does seem odd given the guide’s arrogance about being like the architect of the place and the possibility of the guide’s identity as the singular figure of the Minotaur, but I wouldn’t rule it out, given all the strange footsteps and other sounds and digging activity that cannot be explained entirely by the cat in Room 4 and the handful of apparently stationary and human figures like the musicians.
I admit that the text in Room 13 about the need for great experience to understand “how time works in the Maze” suggests the possibility of a temporal solution. I will therefore discuss the temporal implications further.
What is truly strange is that it is possible to reach Room 10 without going through Room 37, and it is possible to Room 37 without going through Room 10. It is possible to get from either room to the Abyss, or from either room to Room 45 and back to Room 1, without ever entering the other. (The shortest path from Room 45 to Room 1 passes through Room 37, but it is possible to go to Room 45 and back to Room 1 without ever entering Room 10 or Room 37). To me, this casts doubt on the “time loop” interpretation.
Perhaps, when you go back to Room 1 (as is likely from Room 10 as the only other options are wandering the Loop endlessly or going to the Trap), you are actually going back in time to when you first entered Room 1, although you are somehow entering from a different direction this time and with memories you didn’t have before. That would explain why (aside from the fact that the book format requires it) the guests say the same thing every time you enter a room. For example, in Room 1, it says the guests are curious about a ringing sound and where it coming from. If you go through the door directly into Room 20, it seems that the question is resolved by the phone there (especially since it is implied that they heard ringing during the corridor from Room 5 to Room 20 if you enter that way since the ringing is not mentioned in Room 5 but “stops” in Room 20), although it never says that the guests actually figure it out. If you go back to Room 1 having been to Room 20, the guests are as confused as ever about the source of the ringing. Arguably, this is evidence in favor of a time loop interpretation.
Another temporal theory is that this is like a variation on the many worlds theory of quantum mechanics. Each time the guests enter a room with multiple doors, there is one world in which they leave through one door and one in which they leave through another. However, apparently these different worlds can interact with each other fairly directly. One hole in this theory is that, given the many two-way passages in the Maze, it seems like the groups would bump into each other going in opposite directions on the hallway between rooms.
Sounds like the Bootstrap paradox.
This house comes with
3 lovely courtyards, lush spacious grounds.
Furnished and decorated roof space
Circle of hell
And much more!
Includes central heating, electricity and medieval era plumbing
Room 26 is a very theatrical part of the theater.
“Third the House is in a state of temporal flux” goes on to refer to room 88.
Typo or riddle?
Welcome to The Abyss!
88 was a typo… a weird one since the actual room number is 37. Thanks for mentioning it!