DOORS in LITERATURE

 Post by Gautam Shah

Doors in literature are used in their various physical constructs, metaphysical effects and metaphorical forms.

1 – As a construct or description, the opening systems occur as entities with architectural, functional and visual interests. Passageways, bridges, ducts, also serve the function of transition. An opening is a line where the change occurs, and the bridges lead a path to or away from such a line. The point of transition is a mark-up or demarcation.

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2 – Metaphysically the opening constitutes a triad: an inside, outside and as in-between. It is a 3-way experience, of being on one or the other side, and the state, or of being into neither of the two. The third reality is the threshold, the zone of indecision for some. The paired reality of inside and outside, or existing on inside vs. outside, creates a threshold or an edge.

The threshold allows time and space for contemplation before committing to circumstances or even doing nothing. A threshold is a point of commitment any action beyond it may not be undone.

539px-Simon_Marmion_(Flemish,_active_1450_-_1489)_-_The_Gates_of_Hell_and_Lucifer_-_Google_Art_ProjectAn opening is a relief from the enclosure or very constricting situation. It is a way to fulfill the expected, and a venture for the unexpected. The opening is like a dream or thought, so thin and efferent that one often does not realize if it is real or ethereal.

3 – Metaphorically an opening is a change. Doors, gates, windows, and other openings express the transition from one state of existence to another.

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Authors perceive a door as a point of change in both the time and space. The door, the opening, its mention portends a change not only in the place and period but alteration in the character’s personality. As one comes to a door there is a dilemma to go out or not. The vision of the outdoors is invariably wide and with several options, where the character has hesitation of sort. To show the compulsion of the character the door leads to non-fathomable deep space or night. All actions occurring near or in the door place help stretch the scene in time. One passes through a door and enters a new stage of development or experience, having gained long sought key’, knowledge or clue that was necessary to move forward. Going through a door the character becomes more mature, capable, extra ordinary perceptive, or endowed with some super power.

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J. R. R. Tolkien the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings refers directly or indirectly to a door, window, gate, or other passageway that leads to a change in a character’s state. In the Silmarillion, the representation is used extensively. The transition through an opening refers to a passage point that signals some type of change in a character. Barriers are thresholds that represent the dichotomies of safety-danger, us-other, inclusion-exclusion, and control-chaos. For Tolkien the doorways and openings convey the idea of ‘becoming’.

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The interior space within the door is a comfort zone and one must have sufficient compulsion to venture out. It is only through such courage we begin to realize our true selves. In other words, we must cross the thresholds that paradoxically lead us both outward and inward to a deeper understanding of our strengths and weaknesses and recognition of our relationships with the cosmos, just like Tolkien’s fish out of water.

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