The American Psychological Associations Guidelines
Protagonists’ isolation from the world and people around them are evident in the stories “Death by Landscape” by Margaret Atwood and “To Room Nineteen” by Doris Lessing. Margaret Atwood propels this theme through the character Lois. Lois is battling with a hostile wilderness and has decided to close herself off entirely in an artificial world. In the story “To Room Nineteen” the author propels this theme through the character of Susan. Susan is a picture of women’s isolation in the society. The patriarchal society imposes strict values on women limiting their perspective and experience. Human domestication and protagonists’ confinement are forms of isolation that are evident in these two stories. As a result, victims have sought different ways to avoid this form of isolation.
Protagonists’ domestication is a form of isolation from the world and people around them. In the story “To Room Nineteen”, Lessing portrays Susan’s character as the one whose entire life is a prison. The patriarchal moral traps her inside her house and makes her feel like a long-term prisoner, living out a “prisoner sentence” (Lessing, 110). Susan quits her job to be a mother and wife, so she lacks time to experience the sense of freedom. Until Susan’s kids go to school, she feels that freedom to live her own life. Always tied to her family, weighed down by their demands and the “pressures of time”… When she takes a holiday on her own, she desires to move beyond the isolated world of the family duties. On the other hand, in the story “Death by Landscape” Lois recalls herself between thirteen and nineteen when she was at camp “Manito”. The setting of the camp Manito represents a domesticated wilderness and human-made construction that represents wilderness. Lois struggles to adapt to the camp life where she had been isolated from her parents. In the camp Lois disappears from the landscapes and Lois accused accountability isolates her. She feels depressed and alienated by the human absence and the immense human presence. She asks, “how many trees were on the cliff just before Lois disappeared? Maybe there was one more after” (Atwood, 121). Trees are signifying the human presence as well as absence in the camp and Lois life.
Confinement in these two stories is an evidence of their isolation and depression. In the story “Death By Landscape” Lois moves into a new condominium apartment and feels relieved as she does not need to worry about all the lawn noises. Wilderness to her is an invading force but feels safe in a new apartment. Lois’s only access to the wilderness is through the window of her apartment. In the story “To Room Nineteen” Susan for the sake of escaping from her “irrational” feelings goes away from her family to seek for solitude. Susan rents a hotel room where she just sits and thinks. Later, when Mathew finds out about her unusual behavior, he doubts if she has an affair. Susan knows that Mathew’s partial world will not recognize her impartial feelings or behaviors. She lies to him that she indeed has an affair. Protagonists’ confinement proofs an absolute isolation form as victims are cut off from the people they have been sharing. Susan cuts herself off from her family as she rents a hotel room. Lois cuts herself off from the world, and the only representation of the complete human world is the paintings on the room wall.
As a result of isolation, the protagonists are psychologically affected and resort to desperate measures to free themselves from isolation. Susan is depressed and isolated from others. Finally, her emotions overcome her, resulting in her suicide. The paintings serve as Lois’s means of dealing with her isolation. However, this does not bring happiness to Lois, but simply subsides the degree of blame into her thoughts. We can tell that these pictures do not provide happiness to Lois because they “fill her with a wordless unease” (Atwood, 100).