To Room Nineteen





“To Room Nineteen”

“To Room Nineteen,” among the unruffled stories in Doris Lessing’s has overtime been distinguished to be among her most excellent stories. It concentrates on a grown-up English female, whose existence in a London village centers around her spouse, children, in addition to, her home. Every person believes Susan and Matthew (her husband) are the ideal pair, who has made all the accurate options in life. In the event Susan packs her children to go to school, though, she starts to question her “clever” judgments. When she finds out that her partner has had unfaithful business with other women, she gets on a journey of self-finding that eventually becomes a fall into insanity (Lessing 17). This well-established story discovers the warring desires of intellect along with nature, mind as well as heart, in opposition to the setting of an untimely 1960s London. In this period, women were wedged in the past societal conservatism and incapable to see the prospectus assurance that would support choice, accomplishment, and individual freedom. Lessing’s heartbreaking story lights up the limits placed on women of this period and the destructive outcomes of those limits. “To Room Nineteen” was considered as being amid the century’s best short tales.

Plausible Questions

What is Susan’s internal shift in her matrimony? Why is she unable to live her individual life?

The reality that Susan resigns from her job is part of the intellectual plan in line with the whole intellectual, well-structured arrangement of their lives. At this point, she begins to encounter inner-disagreement: she has rationally chosen the position of a responsible mother as well as wife in the relationship, but simultaneously she desires to be a career lady. She feels bareness, although she never tells her partner or anybody about her sentiments because she believes it is not coherent or sensible. Intelligence prohibits each “illogical” feelings or conducts. Later on, as she realizes Matthew is playing her, her position as a wife could simply be alternated by another woman (Cahill 89). She experiences bitterness she is individually unruly, but she has to suppress her feelings again since she has to consider her bright partner. After that, as she employs a teenager to be the “house maid”, her position as a mother would be substituted. She keeps perplexing the worth of her position as a mother or companion, not forgetting her being a woman. Once more, she feels impatient. Consequently, she is miserable and cuts off herself from other persons. Lastly, her feelings cannot establish an opening, which made her kill herself. Conversely, her intelligence is slowly killing her.

How does Lessing articulate her perception of marriage along with midlife crisis in her narrative method?

Lessing portrays Susan’s defenselessness and meaninglessness of her matrimony life through her internal monologue. Even though, Susan realizes that her husband is not faithful to her, she pardons him. She rejects her individual sentiments, feels powerless of her matrimonial life, and this drives to her deeds at the concluding parts of the tale. From Susan and Matthew conversations, it could be perceived that there exists no communication amid them. Susan cuts off herself from her neighbors after her children had left to school (Cheung 56). It can be seen that her spirit could only be free when she is alone. Midlife crisis in a female is considered as the emotion of “empty nest” that makes women miserable and frightened. Nevertheless, for Susan, nothing is significant to her, not even her schooling children. At last, Susan is exhausted of her insanity and gives in to death. The expressions— “intelligent,” as well as “civilized” to her, are sarcastic. Moreover, her “intelligence” in some way drives her in murdering herself.


The story commences with a report of the olden times of Susan along with Matthew Rawlings’s matrimony that has been an exceptionally sensible union. They wedded after having dated for a long time following their encounters in other relationships. They, together with their allies, deem them to be “well harmonized.” Prior to giving birth, Susan was employed in an advertising company while her husband was a worked in a Newspaper firm as a subeditor. They started living together in an abode in Richmond, a village in London, and they, in time, possessed four children. Their existence together was joyful but somewhat flat. They confidentially started to speculate about the middle spot of all their endeavors. The husband was going to work while Susan became a housewife (Maunder 427). They did, though, adore each other, in addition to, being resolute to have a flourishing marriage. As a consequence then, they persuaded themselves that they were at ease with their matrimony. In conclusion, so as to get some moment alone, she leases a hotel room each day where she merely sits to think. Her partner supposes she is playing him and trails her down. Being familiar that his rational being will not distinguish her “illogical” sentiments she confers to him that she is certainly with another man. The following day, she goes to the hotel and commits suicide ((Black 564).


Black, Joseph L. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature. Peterborough, Ontario, 2008.


Cahill, Susan. Women and Fiction: Short Stories by and About Women. New York: New

American Library, 2000. Print.

Cheung, Agnes Ying-fun. The Theme of Escape in Doris Lessing’s Fiction. MA Thesis. The

Graduate Institute of English. Taipei: Fu Jen University, 2000.

Lessing, Doris. To Room Nineteen. London: Flamingo, 2002. Print.

Maunder, Andrew. The Facts on File Companion to the British Short Story. New York: Facts On

File, 2007. Internet resource.