Essay On Doris Lessing's Use Of Color In "To Room

1731 words - 7 pages

Christian Thoroughgood March 7, 2002 English 105-Modern Love Doris Lessing's Spectrum of Illusion James Branch Cabell once wrote, "People marry for a variety of other reasons and with varying results; but to marry without love is to invite inevitable tragedy." Like Cabell's quote, Susan Rawlings' loveless model marriage is an illusion based on appearance and sensibility rather than feeling. It is the combination of these illusions and her marriage's "dishonesty of emotion" that Susan can no longer escape the loss of vitality and independence in her marriage and life. Moreover, Lessing's use of color reinforces these illusions, and sets the tone for Susan's tragic suicide. One of the first color images of "To Room Nineteen" is that of the Rawlings' white house. Lessing's use of white serves as an illusion by giving the house an apparent heavenly semblance. This image is further strengthened by its "big married bed in the big married bedroom," an "attractive view of the river," and a fashionable location in the Richmond section of London's West End. However, Lessing's main goal in painting the home white is to reflect the appearance of perfection the Rawlings' family and marriage apparently maintains under its roof. However, this is not a perfect place, family or marriage, but rather a place where marital and personal problems are "sensibly" overlooked for the sake of the family's "structure." As her denial accumulates, Susan's once "big and beautiful" surroundings begin to frighten her. It is as if "something was waiting for her there that she did not wish to confront." This "enemy" that Susan speaks of is that "certain flatness" of her marital life, the lack of communication that she and Matthew both "sensibly" deny to preserve the stability in their material marriage. These communication problems are evident when one learns that Matthew had "taken a girl home and slept with her. Susan forgave him, of course. Except that forgiveness is hardly the word. Understanding, yes." Clearly, this is not a marriage of true love, but rather one "like a small boat full of helpless people in a very stormy sea." This is rather a union of material appearance as the white house suggests. In addition, Susan hides the internal conflict of her loss of independence in life saying, "…and from the moment I became pregnant for the first time I signed myself over, so to speak to other people. To the children." There is no "honesty of emotion" in this white home. Matthew and Susan do not resolve their problems, but instead brush them under the bed because that is the "sensible" choice. "Susan did not tell Matthew of these thoughts. They were not sensible. She did not recognise herself in them." "Meanwhile her intelligence continued to assert that all was well." Ultimately, it is this accumulation of acts of...

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