Years ago I found the image in my header on Google Images with text across it written by Karellyn Brae Wade from her Gothic Romance: Dhariya: Prelude to a Dark Legacy. Try as I would, I couldn’t find the original creator of this image, and now, 10 years on, I feel it is impossible, so i took the risk of turning it into a logo for my book spines as I get them all into print.
This image inspired much of the my writing. I love it and always go back to it as the primal image for my work. Similar images don’t have the same effect on me. But why?
Gothic stories tend to appeal to women, often revolving feminine evil, or girls being lured into dark realms. This image contains all the elements of this: The young, underfed yet royal young woman is drawn toward a door. Like Eve who has been told not to eat of the tree or she will die, like Bluebeard’s wife who has been told not to open that door while he gives her the key, like Pandora who knows if she opens the box all the demons will rise out of hell, this lady know that if she opens that door, something bad will happen. She has a long way to go before she gets there, plenty of time to change her mind, to turn around and refuse the call. But she knows, even if she did today, curiosity would gnaw at her all night long and then there would be a next day and the desire to find out what is in there, behind that door will be stronger than today. She cannot resist, even if it means death.
This dynamic is the core of all of my stories, and perhaps of all tales of Gothic suspense and horror. Films in this genre are replete with heroines who go where they are warned not to go, or open doors they know they should not open with harrowing consequences.
Do men have this fatal curiosity? I don’t think so. Or it comes in another form, like being drawn to the beautiful woman who is drawn to the dangerous door for she is the door in that case.
But why? We know it is death to go there, or at least a traumatic scale of terror, even misery for the world. Humans fear death, but it fascinates us, and perhaps because woman is the door, she thinks she she owns the door and can command whatever is inside the room, or the box, or the apple just as she thinks she commands the egg or the child in her womb. Then there is the blood…..
Gothic stories are dark because they take us into the shadows where things are not seen clearly, or into the night, winter, the graveyard, death. We are drawn to death, mesmerized by it. We stare into it, waiting for its eyes to meet ours, then we scream because death has seen us and must then come for us.
Our mother Eve was told that to eat of the tree would give her knowledge of Good and Evil. It would also mean death, not as the Luciferians say, only because knowledge leads to self consciousness, but because it is rebellion against God. This was not only the first act of fatal curiosity but also the first transgression, the first evil act of human being, rebellion against God, and it was a woman who did this. Perhaps as the lady in the picture walks toward the door, arguing with her good and bad angels about whether to open it, she is a straight line of cause and effect from Eve, the first transgressor, and her decision marks her fate.
It is not lost on us that Eve was the mother of Cain, the first murderer….
I don’t feel like I’ve nailed this concept of the Gothic tradition, of this archetypal image, but I’m getting close. If you have the final stroke, please let me know….