Bluebeard’s Castle & Erwartung



Judith enters his castle with her new husband Bluebeard. When she notes that the dark walls seem to be weeping, he gives her the opportunity to leave. She declines. She sees that there are seven locked doors. Judith insists that the doors be opened, to allow light to enter the forbidding interior, insisting that her demands are based in her love for Bluebeard. There is a sound of the castle itself sighing, as though it anthropomorphically knows what will happen. Bluebeard refuses her, saying that these are private places and asking Judith to love him but ask no questions. Judith demands the keys to the doors, making it a test of Bluebeard’s love for her.

The first door opens to reveal a torture chamber, drenched in blood.

Behind the second door, an armory is revealed. Judith sees all the weapons that Bluebeard has used to conquer his foes. Again there is blood on the weapons.

Bluebeard tries to keep Judith from opening any more doors, but she insists, and he gives her three more keys. Behind the third door, Judith can see mountains of gold and many jewels. It is spectacular but again after she looks for a moment she sees them covered in blood.

Behind the fourth door, a secret garden of great beauty is revealed. Lilies, roses, and bright red carnations delight her eye as Judith looks at the garden. Bluebeard praises the beauties of his garden, but she sees blood on the ground around each of the flowers and she realizes that blood has watered the garden.

When she opens the fifth door, Judith sees Bluebeard’s lands, those he has conquered and those which he has always owned. After her sight of all the glory of her husband, she again sees a film of blood.

Bluebeard again wants her to stop, but she cannot. She must see the remaining two doors. He argues that she has brought light into his dark house. Bluebeard tells her to enjoy what she has seen and go no further, but Judith cannot resist the temptation to continue. She demands the sixth key. When she opens the sixth door, she sees before her a vast, quiet lake. She asks what it is, and Bluebeard tells her that it is a lake of tears, smooth and unearthly.

To get the last key Judith embraces her husband repeatedly, telling him again and again how much she loves him. She insists that he must return her love by allowing her to look into the last door. She even tells him that if he doesn’t allow her to open the last door, she will believe the rumors that he has murdered his previous wives. When Judith opens the last door, three women appear. Bluebeard calls the women morning, noon, and evening. Judith sees that each one is more beautiful than she. Terror finally strikes her, but Bluebeard now inexorably calls her the most beautiful, the wife of “starry, ebony-mantled midnight.”

Judith takes her place with the others, despite her cries to be spared. Bluebeard calls her his fairest and locks all four women behind the seventh door, saying, “All shall be darkness, darkness, darkness.”


The Woman is searching for her lover. She enters a dark wood, becomes terrified at the night sounds of the forest, and stumbles into a clearing where she is apprehensive of the darkness and solitude that confront her.

In the final scene, the Woman is disheveled and near insanity. She believes that her lover is visiting another woman and seeks to find them. She stumbles against something which proves to be his murdered and still bleeding body. After disbelief gives way to certainty, she first expresses her love and grief, then jealousy and rage, and finally a sense of utter loss at his death.

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Photo Credit

2009 Bluebeard’s Castle with Erwartung © Rozarii Lynch Photo