Maddie and Kore/Persephone

Myths have been an important factor of Twin Peaks.  Orpheus and Odysseus are like Cooper in many ways.  Hawk and Windom Earle bring different cultural groups’ imaginations of the Lodges to us in story and visual map.  But another Myth is also at play here, the myth of Kore/Persephone.  There’s a lot of that in the story of Maddie Ferguson.

“Demeter and Kore, marble relief, 500-475 B.C.E., AM Eleusis, Wikimedia Commons

Kore is the daughter of Demeter/Ceres.  She is the Goddess of Spring, and Spring Growth.  She is a maiden and acts just like a young, innocent girl.  One day, Hades comes up from Hell in his chariot and spies Kore from a distance and immediately lust is in his heart.  He abducts her and takes her to hell.  He then takes her to wife.  What is interesting here is that Hades/Pluto is also Kore’s uncle.  While Kore is in the underworld, Demeter/Ceres is desperate to find her daughter.  She roams the wide, wide world trying to find her (as her dear brother didn’t inform anyone that he had his own sister’s daughter to wife).  She neglects her duties as goddess of grain and nature and lets everything die.  The grain rots.  Everything turns cold and terrible.  Then it is finally discovered that Kore is now her own uncle’s bride. Enraged and desperate Demeter in anger asks her other brother, Zeus (also Kore’s dad, and Hades’s older brother) to release Kore from the bonds of Hell and be returned to her mother.  Zeus sends Hermes down to tell Hades to release Kore immediately.  Hades agrees but with a caveat.  “As long as she hasn’t eaten anything while she’s down here.”  Of course, she does eat something, six pomegranate seeds.  As she is ascending out of Hell, Hades, learning of this, stops her progress. A deal is made then and there, finding out it was only six pomegranate seeds.  She is to live in Hell for six months of the year and then she could return to her Mother for six months.  While she is in Hell, she is Persephone, Queen of the Underworld and is monstrous to behold.  While she is with her mother, she is sweet, sprightly, springy Kore again.  While she is in Hell, her mother mourns and forsakes the earth, and thus starts what is now termed Winter.  While she is back with Mom, Demeter is happy and lets the earth flourish.

Hades and Persephone in the Underworld, Apulian red-figure krater, c. 4th century B.C., Courtesy of the Antike am Koningsplatz museum in Germany

Maddie’s story is quite like the myth.  Firstly, Maddie is presented in the Original First Season as a young and innocent person, quite the opposite of “experienced” Laura.  She is springtime, young and innocent.  Moreover, like Kore she doesn’t particularly have a father very obviously mentioned in the story.  Kore’s father according to the myth was Zeus the father of the Gods.  Too distant and not too involved in her life to count.  Both Goddess and Maddie seem very close to their mothers, as Sarah asks if Maddie missed only Beth.  Yes, in the diary, Maddie knew about smoking and kissing and having boyfriends.  But she didn’t have the darkness and the death that Laura knew.  So before she left Missoula, she had a life quite like Kore’s.  

Kore gets abducted by Hades, the God of Hell, who is incidentally her Uncle.  She gets dragged to Hades’s kingdom of the underworld.  Like Kore, Maddie’s sojourn away from her home, to attend her cousin’s funeral, is largely because of her uncle.  Leland, through his evil act of killing his own daughter, yanked Maddie away from her own life so she could go to Twin Peaks.  Granted Hades abducted Kore with full knowledge of what he was doing and what harm he was intending on causing.  Leland was not expecting Maddie to show up and was surprised at her coming.  However, the means of her coming was to help her Uncle and Aunt during their time of grief but that time of grief was directly caused by the Uncle’s actions.

No one knows how Kore felt as she was held in the Underworld.  Was she sad?  Was she in desperation for her mother and the life she knew?  We don’t know Kore’s voice in this whole myth.  But we do know that Maddie, at the very beginning, thought this time at Twin Peaks was a short visit.  The temptations of staying longer and longer increased simply because she was entrapped by the mystery of her own cousin’s passing.  Yet again, the Uncle rather indirectly caused his own nieces’ entrapment in that small town. The longer Maddie stays the more involved she becomes in the lives of several of the people in that town.  The longer she becomes in everyone’s eyes, a Laura cipher.  In many ways, she stops being Kore the Goddess of the Spring, and slowly begins her transformation to Persephone the Goddess of the Underworld.

In fact, it seems funny to me that she hardly eats or drinks a bite during the whole of her time at Twin Peaks, causing a bit of a fan joke with her ordering cherry coke when she goes to meet Donna and James at the Double RR for their first conspiracy session and when it arrives, she doesn’t take a single sip.  (Much to many fans’ amusement.)  Kore doesn’t eat anything or drink anything while in Hades.  However, there is a slight semantic difference.  With Kore, it is announced that it’s the only requisite for her to ever get out of Hades is never to eat any food while there.  For Maddie, I just find it funny that she doesn’t which is just an interesting parallel.  However, when Dale takes his first bite of cherry pie, he doesn’t want to leave.  So is there something there?

Was Beth at this point of her daughter’s stay in Twin Peaks a Demeter?  One who separates herself from her work and refused work until her daughter returned, seeking her everywhere.  I doubt it, as it was obvious to Beth that Maddie’s time with her Aunt and Uncle would and should have been short term.  She would return home shortly.  

When she gets killed though, by her Uncle, a transformation has occurred.  No longer was she just Maddie, she was more like Laura.  People started to think of her as Laura, especially James and Donna.  She began to forget about her home, especially whe Sarah asked if she missed Beth and Maddie didn’t even listen to the question but concentrated more on her dream.  So she had gotten fully incorporated into the town.  

Then in one single moment, she remembered who she was.  She was Maddie and not Laura and she wanted to return home.  It’s even evocative that the two times that she reclaimed herself, once in front of James and the other in front of her Uncle and Aunt there were spring-like references.  James had a beautiful outdoor spring setting.  With Aunt Sarah and Uncle Leland, the goodbye was said with the undertone of “Wonderful World,” with evocations of spring, “trees of green,” and all that.  However…we know the rest.  Could this murder have been her full transformation from the lightness of Spring of Kore to Persephone the true Goddess of the Underworld?  She remains in the Underworld and unlike Kore who can return to Demeter on occasion, Maddie never returns to her mother.  And remember, Beth did become frantic when her daughter did not return home like she was supposed to.  So I guess that she may have turned into Demeter at the end.   

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