Come into My Parlor
“Bless this House,” by Christianna
Brand
If it seems too good to be true, it
probably is.
Think about where this adage
applies, and you've found a plot for
a Come Into My Parlor story.
Get rich quick schemes, shoddy
investment plans, free downloads,
and anything where your gut tells
you that there must be a catch
somewhere.
In this formula, the victim
unknowingly lured into a trap set by
the criminal.
Think of a spider and a fly, the
spider spins the web as a trap for a
fly to accidentally fly into and be
ultimately destroyed.
In order for this to work, concealed
human evil must be revealed by the
end of the story.
Plot:
1. Characters are drawn in.
2. They realize that they have
misjudged
3. They are destroyed for their
error.
The victim in this formula is naive
• the reader identifies with this naivety of the
victim;
– so when the victim is trapped the reader feels
trapped as well.
• The reader should realize exactly how the
victim gets duped, and realize that the
same could have happened to them self if
they had been in the same situation.
In the Come into My Parlor
formula, it is understood that the
victim is partially at fault.
• The victim's own vice is the reason that
they fall into the trap.
Also: Expecting kindness where it
is not deserved
• Human vice leads to a downfall by a
criminal who's inner evil is revealed after
it's too late for the victim to escape.
The moral of the story: if it's seems
too good to be true, it probably is.
"Bless this House," by
Christiana Brand
Based on: "Nurse Matilda" books
by Christianna Brand.
In the beginning of "Bless this
House," it is a little ambiguous as to
who is laying the trap
• At first, Joe and pregnant Marilyn don't
seem at all virtuous,
• and Mrs. Vaughan seems to be the
virtuous neighbor by taking them in
but it is her stubbornness that is the
vice that ultimately leads to her
demise.
She believes them to be the
second coming of Christ: Jesus,
Mary, and Joseph.
No matter what the priests and her
friends tell her, she is blind to
anything other than this fantasy.
• So blind, that she does not realize that
they are pushing her out of her own home
or that they have done the same with Mrs.
Mace.
• It is understood that Mrs. Vaughan herself
makes the trap work for Joe and Marilyn.
We know that this is a Come Into
My Parlor formula, so let's look at
how Marilyn and Joe spin a trap for
Mrs. Vaughan.
They find the Vice:
• Mrs. Vaughan's irrational beliefs.
– They play along with Mrs. Vaughan's
opinions.
– Marilyn calls Joe a carpenter.
– They are respectful and happy to have just
the shed in the back.
– The allow her to fawn over the baby.
– Joe even warns Mrs. Vaughan to hide her
money after the landlord propositions to help
Joe steal it.
They exploit the Vice:
• Mrs. Vaughan is already acting suspiciously
crazy; but instead of adding to the rumors and
the gossip, they defend her and make
themselves appear to have her best interest in
mind.
– The crazier Mrs. Vaughan appears, the more reliable
and good natured the couple appears to
the neighborhood.
– They allow the neighbors and friends to come up with
their desired conclusions.
– The neighbors decide that she is crazy.
– The neighbors decide that they should not be living
with her because it isn't safe for the baby.
– The neighbors decide that she should be taken into a
home.
They seal the trap:
• After the community believes that they are doing
the right thing by bringing her to an institution,
Mrs. Vaughan is trapped.
– The kicker, she willingly goes to what she thinks is a
visit with Mrs. Mace, the old landlady.
– She has no idea that she is trapped until Joe tells her
in the car.
– The last scene with the conversation between Joe
and Marilyn reveals that Mrs. Vaughan is now buried
by Mrs. Mace in a field of wild flowers, and now they
have the place to themselves.