Structure In The Lady With The Pet Dog By Joyce Carol Oates

795 words - 3 pages

Often, the circumstances of a marriage can leave the people involved feeling empty and unloved. These feelings of hopelessness can lead people to make uncharacteristic choices. Adultery, even in a marriage without love, can have a dramatic effect on the people involved. For the adulterous partner, the feelings of guilt and anxiety can often lead to overwhelming confusion. The short story "The Lady with the Pet Dog" by Oates, shows how the act of cheating creates confusion in the mind of the main character thorough use of an unchronological structure, and unusual character development.
First, the structure of the story reflects Anna's state of mind. The events in the story seem to take place with a total disregard for timekeeping. The opening sequence occurs when Anna sees a familiar face at the theater. This is her second encounter with the man, who is her lover, and she is immediately overwhelmed with a feeling of sickness. Yet, when she goes home her mind passes over him while she is with her husband and it is made apparent that the man she saw was at one time her lover. She seems completely confused as to who she really cares for, often blurring the two men in her thoughts. Then, the story flashes back to several months prior. This time Anna is in Nantucket trying to collect herself after leaving her husband. The back-story to their affair is given in the explanation of how they met and how they spend their time. The chronology is again thrown out as the storyline makes a jump forward to what was supposed to be their last meeting. Anna expects her lover to understand that she must go back to her secluded world and he must go back to his, but he doesn't seem to want that for them. Anna, since the start of this affair, has been indecisive and confused, but as the story moves she grows out of touch with herself and the rest of the world. She alarms herself when she looks in the mirror. "She returned to her husband and saw that another woman, a shadow woman had taken her place" (181). In contrast, the final even takes place in perfect sequential order, and as a consequence Anna leaves the event with a...

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