Landscape: Quandt and Isolation
community, did not even warrant a rescue mission from within his own farmyard. The
safety of community and danger of isolation are apparent in both of these plays.
The stark and frozen landscapes of Quandt's Arctic Landscapes and The Silence
are replaced by a wetter and warmer, but no more inviting, landscape in his radio play
The Sea (Nov. 1980, 16:00). In form, the play is a collection of three monologues that
are heard one after the other, unlike the two interwoven voices of Arctic Landscapes.
Again, the separation of voices heightens the sense of isolation. The play is about a
family isolated in several ways: they are on vacation and thus they are away from their
home; and they are isolated from each other, both physically and emotionally. The play
features a mother, her son, and his wife, Nora, on vacation at the seashore. The story
sweeps the listener out to sea because of the position of the characters and the order in
which they are heard. First to tell her story is the Mother, seated in the house. Next we
hear her son on the seashore. The third and final monologue comes from Nora swimming
in the sea. The three characters struggle with how their lives are intertwined.
Throughout the play, we hear the waves breaking on the shore, which conjures up images
of the ocean – providing another of Frye’s tragic archetypal images of the unformed
world, the sea (Bate 608).
The two women, the old mother and young Nora, fill several roles or archetypes
as defined by Frye and Atwood. Nora is an example both of Frye’s isolated hero/heroine
and of Atwood’s Rapunzel figure: the young, fertile woman imprisoned by a crone-
guardian while she waits for a shallow hero to rescue her (Survival 209). To this,
Atwood adds a Canadian twist:
What is Canadian about the local exemplars of the Rapunzel figure is their difficulty in communicating, or even acknowledging, their