Symbolism in Doorways: Famous Doors in Literature

In literature, books have always held great symbolic significance. Not surprisingly, doors are often used in literature as tools to further a character’s development, or as a symbolic end to their fate. Let’s take a look at a few famous doors in literature:

1. The Secret Garden: Transition

 In Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel, The Secret Garden, young Mary Lennox is sent to live with her emotionally distant uncle and sickly cousin, Colin. Before long, Mary discovers a hidden door in the grounds outside her uncle’s mansion. This door leads the children to a magical garden, which restores their health, and helps forge a bond of love and friendship between them.

2. The Lady or the Tiger: Finality

Frank Stockton’s short story, The Lady or the Tiger, revolves around two famous doors. A man is forced to choose between two doors–behind one door lay a ravenous tiger, behind the other, a beautiful woman who would become his bride. Will he meet a horrific death, or find happiness with his new bride? The reader will never know.

 3. Alice in Wonderland: Transition

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice is required to pass through a tiny door in order to enter the magical realm of Wonderland.

 4. The Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Rings: Finality

In the first novel in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf and the rest of the Fellowship are forced to pass through a former dwarf colony called the Mines of Moria. After opening the magic door guarding the mines, the group quickly discovers that the former occupants have tragically died. Gandalf himself also dies in this place, while protecting the group from an ancient evil.

 As you can see, there are a number of famous doors used symbolically throughout literature. Can you think of any others?