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Contextualizing "To Room Nineteen" by Doris Lessing

In Doris Lessing’s brief story, “To Area Nineteen” Susan and Matthew Rawling look to be the excellent couple, till Matthew begins to have affairs and Susan is left alone to her own thoughts and ultimately goes mad and kills herself. An underlying theme that Lessing could be hinting at is how adultery affects a marriage. For the duration of the 1960s, divorce was becoming a a lot more prevalent remedy to marital troubles. By collecting historical information and thinking about the characters in this story, it can be assumed that Lessing believed that divorce was a suitable resolution for some marriages.

During the 1960s, divorce was deemed to be a widespread tragedy in London. Laws about divorce had been produced and it was said that a couple may possibly only get divorced if it were “irretrievably broken down.” According to the London Occasions report, “Breakdown or Offences” there have been 3 various methods a marriage could be considered broken down: “desertion for a continuous period of at least two years separation for at least two years when both parties agree to a divorce separation for at least 5 years when there is no such agreement”. This suggests that if a couple were in any of these three conditions, their marriage was undoubtedly broken down. Nevertheless, This post also argues that there are other motives that individuals should be capable to effortlessly receive a divorce, for instance, adultery, this is deemed an “offense” according to this write-up. For the duration of this time, “adultery is one of the surest legal grounds for divorce,” nevertheless, this article also tends to make the assertion that adultery cannot constantly be established, and this is an effortless way for individuals to easily get a divorce on “fictitious” allegations. In 1969, an write-up called “Divorce on Demand” was published in the London Occasions, this article argues against the thought that “one isolated instance of adultery is evidence that a marriage is completed, and even worse so to broaden the definition of cruelty that it could be interpreted to imply simple incompatibility.” This report argues the point that adultery must not be a cause for divorce (at least not a single-time offense) due to the fact this could imply that the individuals merely weren’t compatible for every other, but it was difficult for them to acquire a divorce, so they have been forced to turn into unfaithful to their spouses.

In “To Space Nineteen” Susan Rawling’s husband Matthew is unfaithful to their marriage, and alternatively of divorcing, Susan decides to stay with Matthew, for the duration of which, she eventually goes insane and commits suicide. Throughout the story, Susan justifies Matthew’s affairs with the argument that monogamy is unrealistic. A single instance of this is Susan and Matthew even joking, saying “Of course I’m not going to to be faithful to you, no one particular can be faithful to a single particular person for a entire lifetime,” (Lessing). This is significant since Susan does not seem to be bothered by Matthew’s unfaithfulness, but as time passes the loneliness consumes her and drives her mad.

Towards the end of the story, Susan tries to convince Matthew that she had been unfaithful to him in order to make him relate to how she is feeling, but this rapidly backfires and only causes Susan much more strife. When telling Matthew about her fictitious lover, Michael, he appears unfazed and gives to join them on a date, to which Susan thinks, “Of course, she mentioned to herself, of course he would be bound to say that. If a single is sensible, if a single is reasonable, if a single in no way enables oneself a base believed or an envious emotion, naturally one particular says: Let’s make a foursome!” (Lessing). This enables Susan to come to the realization that Matthew understands that monogamy is unrealistic. By making use of the phrase “if 1 is sensible, if a single is reasonable,” Lessing is suggesting that jealousy is an absurd feeling to have, and if a particular person was smart they wouldn’t invest in their envious feelings.

It is therefore vital to take into account Susan Rawling’s not divorcing Matthew Rawlings as a warning to people who in unfaithful marriages. Lessing makes the point that Susan, who only wanted to be with Matthew for the rest of her life, is the a single who goes mad in the end. Rather of divorcing him, she attempted to salvage what she had and was unsuccessful doing so.

Works Cited:

“Breakdown Or Offences.” Times [London, England] 16 Jan. 1968: 9. The Times Digital Archive. Net. 14 Nov. 2017. “Court Circular.” Instances [London, England] 12 Could 1949: 7. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 14 Nov. 2017. “Divorce On Demand.” Times [London, England] 2 July 1969: 9. The Instances Digital Archive. Web. 14 Nov. 2017. Lessing, Doris. “To Space Nineteen” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Eds. Jahan Ramazani, Jon Stallworthy et al. Vol F. New York, NY, London, ENG: W.W. Norton & Firm, Inc., 2012. 2759-2780. Print.
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