The play is staged so that the walls that enclose Henry and Bailey in their cell are imaginary. There is an imaginary window in the back wall, and the beds sit up against the imaginary sidewalls of the cell. The walls are a symbol of the power and importance of freedom of thought. Physical walls that can contain or restrict thought do not exist—Henry points this out more than once over the course of the play. The fact that the walls are not even visible to the audience underscores their irrelevance to Henry. What’s more, the walls in the play are “constructed” by the audience, in the sense that the audience imagines them into place around the characters on the stage. This emphasizes that thought can constrain as well as liberate if we are not diligent about wielding our intellect carefully and remaining open, inquisitive, and willing to challenge authority.
The Cell Walls Symbol Timeline in The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Cell Walls appears in The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.