Photo: Smelov/Shutterstock

The Mysterious Nature of Doors

by Carlo Alcos Nov 10, 2010
No need to knock. Come on in.

IT’S CLEAR FROM the number of hits in Flickr that doors are a popular subject. Search “mysterious door” or “secret door” and thousands of results pop up. What is it about doors that is so compelling?

In a literal context, doors represent the unknown, as in “I wonder what’s behind this door?” It stimulates curiosity and pokes at our adventurous side, beckoning for us to open it and find out. In another way, when there are multiple doors, they can represent options — and possibly enhance anxiety — like in the old game show Let’s Make A Deal.

In the dreamworld, an outward opening door could mean that you have a need to be more accessible to others, whereas an inward opening door could represent a desire for self-discovery — introspection. A door might mean a new opening for the awake you, but if it’s locked it could mean opportunities denied to you.

In modern literature, repeated mentions of doors can be symbolic and whether or not characters walk through them can reveal a lot about their personality. One who walks through might be more willing to try to make a difference in the world and, oppositely, those with fear of crossing that threshold could be scared of what the world will do to them; the door is their protector. In ancient Egypt, a door painted on a tomb was a symbol of a communication channel.

Think of doors being used as metaphors:

  • In love: “He opened the door to his heart.”
  • In support: “My door is always open.”
  • In healing: “She closed the door to her past.”
  • In opportunity: “That door is now shut.”

The doors that travelers are presented with on the road are more varied and “strange” than when at home — both literally and figuratively. So how do you decide which ones to walk through?

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