Unveiling the Characters in “On the Face of It”: A Comprehensive Study

Susan Hill’s play, “On the Face of It,” delves into the complexities of human relationships and the power of perception. Through its vivid characters, the play offers a poignant exploration of themes such as loneliness, resilience, and the beauty of individuality. In this character study, we’ll delve into the personalities, motivations, and relationships of the key characters in “On the Face of It,” providing readers with a deeper understanding of this timeless work.

1. Mr. Lamb: The Enigmatic Recluse

  • Mr. Lamb is introduced as a reclusive man with facial scars, who is initially perceived as intimidating by others.
  • Despite his outward appearance, Mr. Lamb is revealed to be gentle, kind-hearted, and resilient, harboring a deep sense of loneliness and longing for connection.
  • Through his interactions with Derry and other characters, Mr. Lamb undergoes a transformation, ultimately finding solace and acceptance in their friendship.

2. Derry: The Curious Outsider

  • Derry is a young boy who befriends Mr. Lamb after a chance encounter in his garden.
  • Curious and compassionate, Derry is intrigued by Mr. Lamb’s scars and sees beyond his appearance to the person underneath.
  • Through his friendship with Mr. Lamb, Derry learns valuable lessons about empathy, understanding, and the importance of looking beyond outward appearances.

3. Mrs. Parry: The Concerned Neighbor

  • Mrs. Parry is a well-meaning neighbor who is initially wary of Mr. Lamb and his influence on Derry.
  • Despite her initial reservations, Mrs. Parry ultimately comes to see the positive impact that Mr. Lamb has on Derry’s life, leading her to reevaluate her own perceptions and prejudices.
  • Mrs. Parry serves as a foil to Mr. Lamb and Derry, highlighting the importance of empathy and understanding in overcoming prejudice and fostering meaningful connections.

4. The Gardener: Symbolism and Subtext

  • The Gardener is a minor character in the play who tends to Mr. Lamb’s garden.
  • While seemingly insignificant, the Gardener’s presence serves as a symbol of renewal and growth, mirroring the transformative journey of Mr. Lamb and Derry.
  • Through the care and attention he devotes to the garden, the Gardener embodies the themes of resilience and renewal that permeate the play.


The characters in “On the Face of It” are richly drawn and multifaceted, offering readers a compelling glimpse into the complexities of human nature. From the enigmatic Mr. Lamb to the curious Derry and the well-meaning Mrs. Parry, each character contributes to the overarching themes of loneliness, resilience, and the power of empathy. As readers engage with the characters of “On the Face of It,” they are invited to reflect on their own perceptions and prejudices, ultimately discovering the beauty of looking beyond outward appearances to find the true essence of humanity.

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