Essay: A horror story with a happy ending

Essay: A Horror Story With a Happy Ending


Thomas O. St-Pierre, author of four novels, is passionate about children's stories. 

Among others, that of Charles Perrault, Barbe- Bleue, this cruel monster who killed his too curious wives and then stored them in a secret and forbidden room. He sees it as a metaphor for the dark side that inhabits every human being. 

“This closet is where we hide what we think might keep others from loving us. Because we are all Bluebeards ”, he says straight away. 

It is in this closet that we bury everything that we do not like about ourselves: our cowardice, our bad tricks, our spinelessness, our gratuitous wickedness, our secret desires for revenge, even murder, etc. Because if the social organization has made us moral beings who aspire to peace, the fact remains that we feed in us all kinds of violent and sexual impulses, which we manage somehow to dominate.&nbsp ;

And this from an early age, with the Oedipus complex dear to Feud and which children are confronted with. They thus learn very early on to repress their desires: being in love with their mother or their father is unacceptable in our society. This should not be seen or known.


So we spend a good part of our lives denying our secret desires. This repression can lead to a form of self-contempt, according to Freud. 

A Bluebeard would slumber in each of us. And when we meet a person likely to love us, to make us forget who we are, to value ourselves, we do like Bluebeard, says St-Pierre, we open all our doors to him by offering him the keys to do so, but we strictly forbid him to look into this secret room where our villains are.

How do we know what other people think of us, if we are not even able to disentangle the true from the false in us, looking at ourselves in the mirror? 

Did Bluebeard love himself to the point of multiplying female conquests? Did he think he was attractive when more than one found him ugly because of his blue beard? And what prompted Léa to agree to take him as her husband? Greed? The desire to be free from his family? Fear of loneliness?

Impossible to answer these questions. Here are some more: why is Bluebeard setting a trap for Léa? Does he want her to discover his horrifying side and forgive him for his past, or does he believe, rather, that she will resist the urge to open the door of his office even if she has the key, because curiosity would be a bad thing?

The Impossible Parent

St-Pierre takes the opportunity to question the work of Perrault, who was the father of four children. It seems obvious to him that he wrote his stories first for his children, to educate them and instill in them some values. it is about giving up. In Cinderella and in Sleeping Beauty, cruel stepmothers and absent fathers. In Little Red Riding Hood, “a child plays the role of game”.

In all these tales, the author asserts, the parents are negligent and careless. But “the archetype of this narrow-minded, empathetic humanity is Bluebeard, the impossible parent, the non-parent. He hates life, he hates himself, he fears others and above all the intimacy that he is nevertheless unable to prevent himself from seeking despite everything. 

Based on his own role as a father, he admits that one can only help correcting a child's inappropriate behavior “by taking it back in an increasingly annoyed way”, even if it means instilling in him some feeling of rejection, which will unfortunately be the source of feelings of shame and guilt. 

Family life is a constant challenge, it cannot be a perpetual party, he concludes, and parenthood reminds us of our own vulnerability. Finally, Bluebeard's behavior reminds us of “our unsurpassable need to be reassured”. A story that ends well, as in Bluebeard.