Death and the Maiden (La Jeune Fille et la Mort)


Painting Title: Death and the Maiden (La Jeune Fille et la Mort)
Artist: Marianne Stokes (1855-1927)

I was skimming through my really sad Facebook account months ago when this painting caught my eye and upon reading the title, I knew I had to blog Death and the Maiden one way or another. It had taken months, yes, because I slack a lot plus my plate’s always full. I am much obligated to work and rarely have time to delve into the dark abyss of the Internet.

The title alone is enough to give you goosebumps. If I hadn’t seen the image first, I would have imagined a young girl (a virgin, of course) getting raped by Death; or a maiden snatched by a malevolent creature of darkness (think Hades and Persephone).

In an unexpected turn of events, Death in the painting is depicted as a woman, dressed in black, with dark wings I am quite infatuated with. The young girl across her appears to have suddenly awoken – the sight of Death obviously scaring the shit out of her. Her face is a cocktail of fear and “what the fuck?!” – curiosity looming over her in a why-am-I-seeing-this fashion.

Now there are two ways I’d like to interpret this masterpiece:

  1. Death and the girl could be the same person. Something really fucked up happened while she was sleeping and she “woke up” face to face with her own “Death” self. Notice how Goth chick holds her hand up like, “Chill, it’s just me – I mean you, but dead.”

The painting kinda suggests the sudden death of the girl, but in a dreamlike sequence.

  1. Maybe Death is a girl… all this time. The maiden, unable to absorb the unexpected plot twist, holds the blanket to her chest and whispers, “NOOOO SHIT.”

Between the two I kinda like number one. The latter sounds more fun but the former seems to me makes a lot of sense.

How would you interpret the painting?

2 thoughts on “Death and the Maiden (La Jeune Fille et la Mort)

  1. It’s a fabulous painting, I agree. For me the fact that death carries a lantern is comforting, it gives the sense of calming the girl and that there is a lighted passageway, brought by the most unlikely of ‘dark’ companions, to usher her through. 🙂

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