5 Authors with Doors at the Centre of Their Novels

Posted: 13 Jul, 2018.

Doors in Novels

Doors and doorways are symbolic in all cultures and this representation has crept into the books, tv shows and films that we consume daily. Doors were first seen in recorded history on paintings inside Egyptian tombs. The Romans used their architectural savvy to create double, sliding and folding doors. Furthermore, the Roman god Janus was the god of doors and doorways; representing beginnings, endings, transitions and time. Today, doors still continue to symbolise all of these elements and the following authors have used this allegory effectively. 

Wuthering HeightsEmily Bronte: Wuthering Heights

Undoubtedly one of the most famous novels of all time, Wuthering Heights is rich with boundary symbolism.

Much of the representation in the story takes place in and around the Wuthering Heights farmhouse, which Bronte presents as an unwelcoming structure in the moors. 

From gates, to doors and windows, these thresholds are extant throughout Wuthering Heights and Bronte has used them as portals for entering and exiting.

From Catherine’s ghost at the window to Cathy escaping Heathcliff, the doors and windows of Wuthering Heights present the home as a prison.

Stephen King: The Drawing of the Three

Part of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Saga, The Drawing of the Three continues on from The Gunslinger. The first novel centres around Roland Deschain; the last gunslinger, who has been chasing his rival for years. The novels are a quirky blend of Western fiction, fantasy, science fiction and horror. 

In The Drawing of the Three, protagonist Roland encounters three floating doors on a beach. Each door transports him into an exact version of his world, but at different periods in time. Roland travels back to the 60s, 70s and 80s America, drawing people back through the doors who are mentally and spiritually damaged. These characters allow Roland to grow and develop a deeper understanding of the human psyche whilst he is suffering with a physical affliction after he is attacked by giant lobsters who eat his fingers, in typically quirky King style. 

NarniaC S Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia

Readers are first introduced to the magical world of Narnia in the first instalment from C S Lewis; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Whilst most people read the novel as a fantasy story or Christian allegory, it is the portal to the magical world which fascinates many.
During WWII, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are evacuated from London to a large country house. One rainy day whilst playing hide-and-seek, Lucy climbs into a wardrobe. Whilst hiding behind the coats which are stored inside she feels the cool air of snowy Narnia rustle her hair. Beyond the magical doorway is a land rich with talking animals, mystical creatures and a wicked queen.

Diana Wynne Jones: Howl’s Moving Castle 

Many people are aware of Studio Ghibli’s 2004 Japanese animated fantasy film Howl’s Moving Castle. However, the film is actually based upon a novel of the same title by English author Diana Wynne Jones. 

The novel is set in the land of Ingary where, an 18-year-old girl called Sophie, who has been living a pleasant but dull life working in the family hat shop. Cursed by a witch, Sophie takes up a cleaning job for the notorious wizard Howl, and the novel depicts her quest to break the curse that sees her trapped inside the body of an older woman. 

The novel, being so obscure, is rich with symbolism and allegory. However, it is Howl’s home, the moving castle, that has a magic door which opens onto four different locations.

Neil Gaiman: Coraline

CoralineCoraline is a dark children’s fantasy novella; a short novel. The award-winning story has won countless awards and been compared to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  

The story tells of a Coraline Jones, who moves with her parents into an old house that has been divided into flats. Coraline notices a small door that seemingly links to the flat next door, but it has been bricked up. A neighbour warns Coraline not to enter the door. However, curiosity gets the better of her and the bricks have vanished, allowing Coraline to enter the Other World. Trapped in the Other World, Coraline has to over evil forces to make her way back to the safety of her home. 

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