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Analysis on “The Orchard walls” by Ruth Rendell Essay

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Updated: Nov 8th, 2019


Literature is a very interesting field. Various literary elements and styles are incorporated in a strategic manner in an effort to bring about the intended meaning in the most appropriate manner possible. Different authors and writers have been known for their utilization of different literary aspects.

Ruth Rendell has written many pieces of works each with a particular meaning and purpose to the readers. The Orchard Walls is however adored by many due to the complex but interesting story that is contained therein (Kennedy and Giona 12). This piece of work gives an in depth analysis of The Orchard Walls, with insights being given to literary elements that have been used to bring out the content for instance theme, plot, characters, conflict, setting, point of view, language, climax, symbolism, denouement and metaphor.


The Orchard Walls is written in the form of a play. It is dramatic in nature and looks at the love relationship that exists between Jenny, a girl from a wealthy family and a car mechanic (different wealth status). It was during the 2nd world war that Jenny, a teenager by then (14), was sent by her parents to the countryside in order to spend the summer there as the place was thought to be safer for her as opposed to her home place.

Initially, it was hard for Jenny to adapt living with a family she was not used to although she was treated well and provided for any necessity. It is at this time that a relationship is formed between her and the mechanic since at this age she is at a stage of exploration where romance is a key aspect. This story forms the baseline of the play (Holborough and Rendell par 2).

The setting of this play is at the village where everything seems natural with aspects such as cherries and honey. Everyone here adores dignity and respect and we find the behavior of Jenny being criticized by Mrs. Thorn. What she does is seen to be beyond her age, for instance, Mrs. Thorn responds to Jenny’s behavior with bitterness; “How dare you say such a thing! How dare you be so disgusting! At your age, a child, you must be sick in your mind’’ (Rendell 33).

This was after she stated that Mr. Clifton Dennis was dead after having seen a scarecrow an aspect that shocked all. She had however said this innocently with no bad intention. The context of the story helps the reader greatly in the understanding of the story, for instance, the evacuation of children brings about Jenny’s traits such as loneliness, the search for love and underexposure.

The main theme in the story is love. The aspect of a teenager who is involved in sexual wonder is emphasized greatly to make it as the main concept. There is also a noteworthy reference that has been given to the use of Romeo and Juliet in the play to give emphasis to the love affair involved between the two love birds.

We find Jenny envying the love that transpires between Ella and Denis Clifton to an extent of concluding that she was more than just a mere observer of the love happenings and she seemed to be so much involved that she would imagine herself being in such a position. She adores romance even at her tender age and she seems to be very expectant in finding happiness from a love relationship (Delderfield 11).

The plot in the story is amazing. It is arranged chronologically with incidents following each other in a naturally connecting manner. This makes the story easy to follow an aspect that is very crucial. Just as in most of the writer’s works, the plot is very innovative and this is evident right from the introduction part that keeps the reader excited, with an urge to know what happens next. The language in the story is appropriate and easy to comprehend.

First person narrative also enhances understanding of the story by making things sound real such that a reader easily associates with the happenings. Symbolism is also an aspect that has been applied suitably, for instance, when comparing Ella to Hedy Lamarr in respect to beauty.

The main characters in the play are Jenny, Dennis Clifton, Daniel Thorn, Mrs. Thorn and Phillip Thorn. Different personalities have been portrayed through the vivid description of these characters. The diversity of the personalities has made the story interesting since it makes the setting easy to associate with in a real life situation.

Ella is for example portrayed to be very beautiful and not finding satisfaction from her husband and hence having another affair. Mrs. Thorn on the other hand is very strict and a perfectionist who rarely understands Jenny’s behavior and hence they are always at loggerheads.

The central conflict in the story is the indifferences between Jenny and Mrs. Thorn where everything seems to be parallel. Despite Thorn being hard on Jenny, we discover that he had also married a very young girl, 17, after making her pregnant. There is also some form of conflict in the thoughts of Jenny once she thinks of her early days and her encounters with Mrs. Thorn.

At times, she feels guilty and ashamed of what she underwent but at the same time, she consoles herself that it was out of her control by then and what she had to do was to forget the past that was somehow ‘unclean’ and live the present life as it should (Delderfield 24).

The climax of the story is characterized by suspense and a sense of misery. This has been made possible by the plot arrangement where as readers, we are kept to imagine of what happens next.

For example it is not until towards the end of the story (through the significance of the newspaper story) that the Jenny’s mistake (truth of murder) is known but all through, we are informed of her shame. All in all, although the ending is a surprise, it is somehow convincing since initially there was an expectation that the play would definitely disclose a crime and some form of truth.


The Orchard Walls is a very interesting play that has attracted a lot of readership from people of different age due to its content of the love affair. The play has included a variety of literary elements in an appropriate manner making it interesting due to the aspect of diversity that keeps a reader glued to the story and excited to know what happens next.

Works Cited

Delderfield Fredrick Ronald. The Orchard Walls: A Play in Three Acts. Pennsylvania State University: French, 1954. Print

Holborough, Jacqueline and Rendell Ruth. “Ruth Rendell Mysteries (TV series 1987): The Orchards Wall”. Imdb, 31 Dec 1998. 8 Aug 2011 <>

Kennedy, J.X. and Giona Dana. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 10th ed. UK: Pearson Longman, 2007. Print

Rendell, Ruth. The New Girlfriend and Other Stories. New York: Arrow Books, 1994. Print

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"Analysis on "The Orchard walls" by Ruth Rendell." IvyPanda, 8 Nov. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/analysis-on-the-orchard-walls-by-ruth-rendell/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Analysis on "The Orchard walls" by Ruth Rendell." November 8, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/analysis-on-the-orchard-walls-by-ruth-rendell/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Analysis on "The Orchard walls" by Ruth Rendell'. 8 November.

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