The History Boys


Alan Bennett

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The Locked Door Symbol Analysis

The Locked Door Symbol Icon

The locked door of Hector’s classroom sets it apart from the rest of the educational system. When Hector is teaching, he locks his door against Irwin, and even against the Headmaster. The locked door symbolizes the invisible pact that Hector forms with his students, agreeing that they will try to resist the forces of conformity together. This comes with its own dangers—most notably, Hector’s secret molestation of his students—yet the locked door also creates a separate space for knowledge and self-actualization that doesn’t exist in the rest of the school.

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The Locked Door Symbol Timeline in The History Boys

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Locked Door appears in The History Boys. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Someone knocks at the locked door to the classroom. Hector begins quoting from a scene in Hamlet in which he orders... (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
History and Truth Theme Icon
...with Hector, and Timms evades the question. Then Irwin asks why Hector works behind a locked door during his classes. The boys pretend to be surprised to hear this. (full context)
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
Hope and Failure Theme Icon go. Irwin asks if the conspiracy aspect is what makes Hector work behind a locked door . Posner says that it’s a way of making sure that Hector’s classes are apart... (full context)
History and Truth Theme Icon
Class and Gender Theme Icon
...the Headmaster calls Hector into his office. There, he asks Hector why he teaches “behind locked door s,” and Hector says it’s because he doesn’t want to be disturbed. “Teaching?” the Headmaster... (full context)