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The Painted Door Argumentative

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The natural landscape and the winter storm in “The Painted Door” serve as a metaphor for Ann’s sense of isolation. Sinclair Ross, the author of the short story, intelligently uses imagery to add atmosphere to the story and enhance the readers understanding of the emotions and mood of the protagonist, Ann. The isolation of the farmland is made abundantly clear as we learn the closest neighbouring farm is “five miles away,” and even then it would seem longer as the roads are “impassable.” However, Ann’s isolation is not entirely physical, she also feels very emotionally isolated from the one person who is supposed to be there with her. The emotional setting of Ann is that of the physical environment, isolated, bitter, and cold. Ann cannot seem to surpass the emotional blocks John has put up.

Her words are “chilled” as she speaks to John indicating how she has turned cold and indifferent toward her husband. Ann’s geographic isolation eventually intensifies her feelings of loneliness to the point where she feels even alienated from her own husband. Although John knew the they “could expect a storm,” he left Ann alone amongst the “ever-lurking silence” to go help his father. Ann is feeling alienated from John and the storm is representing that alienation physically “isolating her [there] alone.” The earth is entirely “snowswept”. The bareness and simplicity of the surroundings, the “clear pale sun-chilled sky”, serve to “intensify a sense of isolation”. They compare to the lack of emotion John is showing towards Ann and his “simple mind”.

Ann wants a more complex emotional relationship with John, to live a “dramatic” life, whereas John thinks that getting Ann material things, doing something “for her sake” will be what brings her happiness. However, Ann feels this only “deprives her of his companionship” which further adds to Ann’s sense of isolation. The storm parallels Ann and John’s broken relationship and “dry and empty” lives. The repetition of Ann’s feelings of boredom, loneliness and indifference all contribute to the reader really understanding her emotional turmoil. The emptiness of her surroundings point to the feelings of emptiness and loneliness she experiences. In this way, we can empathise with Ann through the descriptive passages of her bleak surroundings.

Her attempts to keep herself occupied during the absence of her husband by carrying on with the household chores further emphasises the sense of boredom in her life. As Ann paints, her “movements [become] precise and deliberate.” The almost exaggerated awareness in the way she proceeds with her chores illustrates her attempts at detaching herself from the reality of her isolation. The weather outside deteriorates as her concern for her husband increases. She ventures outside the safety and warmth of the house to feed the horses in the stables. As Ann walks out the doorway she realizes how “the wind [is striking] from all sides, blustering and furious.” The blizzard is so ferocious that by the time she returns to the house, she realises that if her husband had ventured home in the storm, he has little chance of surviving the journey.

The storm thus serves as a metaphor both for Ann’s anxiety about her present life, and also for regrets about past decisions. The physical separation from her husband signifies the isolation Ann is experiencing in her marital relationship. Together, these emotions make it possible for Ann to engage in an act that under normal conditions, would be out of character for her. Just like the sun, Ann “seemed shedding cold” instead of giving off warmth, as she is expected or known to do. She surrenders herself to her loneliness and “frozen silence of the bitter fields”, and her relationship with Steven is consummated. The “lamp between them flickered as an onslaught of the storm sent shudderings through the room”. This was a warning for Steven and Ann to not commit adultery. The storm and natural landscape is therefore a metaphor for passion, emotion, and crisis. The decline of the storm signifies Ann’s return to rationality and moral conscience.

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