January 31, 2013 § Leave a comment
Doors = Drama
From Sarah Luria’s “The Architecture of Manners: Henry James, Edith Wharton, and the Mount”:
Wharton’s doors offer an invitation to enter and yet protect privacy through their controlled revelation of the house’s interior. Like manners, the doors heighten intimacy while they also make social relations more formal. The opening door, for example, restores the key dramatic moment of entrance to its full intensity: it creates a prolonged moment of suspense during which neither the intruder nor the occupants can see each other—a moment of simultaneous revelation and concealment, as the occupants have time to stop what they were doing and turn to meet the new guest.
Of course, the dining room and drawing room of Forster’s pensione are divided by “curtains—curtains which smote one in the face, and seemed heavy with more than cloth” (7). Not that this prevented the inhabitants from sizing up the newcomers….
Doors establish social order
Again from Luria’s article:
‘While the main purpose of a door is to admit,’ Wharton writes in The Decoration of Houses, ‘its secondary purpose is to exclude.’ Key doors in the house serve to separate outsiders from insiders, servants from residents and day visitors from overnight guests. Wharton’s architectural creed reveals the extent to which doors themselves become a pivotal means of establishing a social order; it is they that do the including and excluding, with the result that they establish an inner elite by determining who is allowed in—and, crucucially, how far in. The Mount establishes its subtle social order in large part through movement. Insiders have the greatest number of paths available, outsiders the fewest. Servants have access to the entire house but only through certain doors.
Something to consider… especially if parts of the pensione are open to “day visitors.”
Doors from the film
Doors leading from the guest room to the bath, the bath to the hall, the hall to [an intermediary space following reception]?
Two sets of double doors in the drawing room, flanking the piano…one presumably leads to the smoking room?
A traditional Victorian pass-through door between the dining room and the kitchen:
Doors, doors, doors!