Landscape: Quandt and Isolation
and leaves it for her husband to read and puzzle over.” Thus Nora becomes Atwood’s
Canadian Rapunzel, trapped by her own inscrutability. Nora’s “hard” exterior becomes
the walls of her own tower. When the play ends, the listener is left with the feeling that
these three souls will be forever alone, even though they live together. Anger, pain, and
suffering will not allow them to disperse the fog of misunderstanding that engulfs them.
These three plays are studies of characters’ physical and psychological
landscapes. Death by Nature is possible, but avoidable if one has a community able, and
willing, to act in averting tragedy. In Arctic Landscapes the two characters are in peril.
The man faces a physical threat to his life: Death by Nature (freezing). But he is saved
by his community. His danger was known and physically solvable. The woman is
threatened by a psychological danger to her life that she seems incapable of signaling to
others. This danger is physically unapparent, unknown by and hidden from her
community. She is under threat with no sign that anyone is coming to psychologically
In The Silence, there was, until recently, a community of two. Frau Klause
becomes her own community after the death of her husband, Franz. He was a threat to
his community (Frau Klause), and therefore he was not saved from the physical threat of
freezing, Death by Nature. By not acting to relieve the physical threat to his life, she
frees herself from the psychological and physical threat that Franz presents to her.
Frau Klause’s impressions of her physical landscape are more consistent with the
bleak and inhospitable views expressed by The First Step’s Frank Dobson, another
settler, than they are of the healing and caring prairie as remembered by Edouard Beaupré
in The Giant Who Wept. Frau Klause becomes another woman alone on the farm in