Secret passage  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A secret passage (or hidden passage or a secret tunnel) is a hidden route that is used to travel stealthily. Such passageways may be inside a building leading to a secret room, or be a way of entering (or exiting) somewhere without being seen. Hidden passages are a common feature of fiction, but have also served a variety of purposes throughout history. Hidden rooms have helped people evade capture or carry out illegal, religious, political, or smuggling activities.

Contents

Mythological and fictional uses

Secret passages are used as a plot element or as part of the setting in mythological stories, fiction, and in television programs or films. Secret passages in old buildings, castles, haunted houses, and the lairs of villains or superheroes enable characters to secretly enter or exit the building, access a hidden part of the structure, or enter a supernatural realm. These passageways are often opened by pulling a disguised lever or lock mechanism. In some cases, a certain book on a bookshelf serves as the hidden trigger for the mechanism.

Mythological uses

Detective and mystery stories

In the late 1890s, detective novels featuring seemingly "impossible crimes" became popular. Impossible crimes were sometimes carried out using secret passages or doors. Subsequent generations of detective pulp fiction and mystery story authors also used the plot device of secret passages.

However, the use of secret passages in detective fiction and mystery stories has been criticised, on the grounds that it is not "fair" to expect the reader to guess about the existence of these secret passages. Ronald Knox (1888-1957), a British theologian and detective story author, argued that the plot device of a secret passage was overused in detective fiction. Knox's Ten Commandments for Detective Fiction states that "Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable." Furthermore, Knox urges that secret passages not be used in detective stories unless the story takes place in an old house or castle where a reader might reasonably expect to find a secret door or passageway.

Carolyn Wells' "impossible crime" stories from the first decades of the 1900s, such as Faulkner's Folly (1917) are often set in an upper class country house, where a murder takes place. There is a closed circle of suspects, all linked to the murdered man; however, based on the layout of the house, the murder seems "impossible". In Wells' stories, the solution to the seemingly impossible crime plots tend to depend on the murderers' use of secret passageways, secret panels, and hidden doors.

Games

In role-playing games, secret passages, like traps, can be found in all sorts of buildings, especially in the dungeons and castles. The mansion in the board game Cluedo (Clue) has two secret passages that players can use to move to an opposite corner of the board.

Computer and video games often feature hidden areas, sometimes as an important part of the game and other times as an easter egg. Such areas can be a required route in order to continue or may be optional and contain rewards for the player, such as a bonus stage, a secret character, extra items or a shortcut to a later part of the game. Some secret entrances are invisible, such as a normal-looking wall that can be walked through, while others give a slight visual clue, such as a cave behind a waterfall. Interestingly, in many top-down games several passages are "hidden" in locations where they would easily be visible in first-person.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Secret passage" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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