Healing and Surrender: Two different ways of coping with emotional impasse
and self-induced isolation
Compare and contrast essay
Student Number: T00557209
July 20th, 2015
“Death by Landscape” by Margaret Atwood and “To Room Nineteen” by Elizabeth Lesser are both stories of self-induced isolation, in which the protagonists are unable to expose their predicaments to the people around them. Lois, the protagonist in “Death by Landscape,” isolates herself due to the traumatic disappearance of her childhood friend, Lucy. Suzan, the protagonist in “To Room Nineteen,” is trapped in an emotional impasse caused by conforming to her roles as wife and ...view middle of the document...
She does not allow herself to cry because “intelligence forbids tears” (871). To keep her marriage, image, and lifestyle intact, she willingly pays the emotional price, unaware of its dreadful consequences.
As her emotional impasse progresses, she becomes unable to fulfill her roles as wife and mother, and detaches emotionally from her husband and children. Similarly to Lois, Suzan feels uncomfortable in wilderness, where she feels “the sky pressing down too close” (880).
Despite these similarities, Suzan’s isolation is severer than Lois’s. Eventually, Lois heals the unbearable open wound caused by Lucy’s disappearance. Her isolation provides her the space to listen to Lucy’s voice: “She hears something, almost hears it: a shout of recognition or of joy” (36). Lois finds Lucy in her pictures and resolves her predicament. “Everyone has to be somewhere, and this is where Lucy is. She was in Lois’s apartment” (Ibid).
Unlike Lois, Suzan does not find a cure for her isolation. While Lois is mentally stable, Suzan’s progressing emotional impasse affects her mental stability. She starts hallucinating, seeing a demon in her garden. Her emotional situation deteriorates despite her efforts to resolve her predicament by going to her discrete hotel room. She loses her last refuge when her husband finds out about her hotel outings, and suspects she is having an affair. Still unable to express her feelings, she admits she has an affair although she does not. When she realizes how far apart she and her husband sank from honesty and emotion, she dissolves in horror...