Lucy the Landscape

The title of Margaret Atwood’s “Death by Landscape” is vital to knowing why Lucy disappeared and is also a critique on modern society. Landscape paintings tend to reverse what a viewer pays attention to in a painting. Rocks, trees, and streams always serve as the background to beautiful picnics, happy families and smiling faces, but a landscape painting brings the background to the foreground. Suddenly the part that no one pays attention to becomes front and center. Lucy was very much like a painting, a beautiful wealthy girl who had a great experience filled life. She had a boyfriend before Lois and everything Lois thought was exciting she thought was simply ordinary. It is easy to see that Lois envied her life. She was too caught up in the foreground to notice the background. Lucy had troubles like a stepfather she didn’t like and an adulterous mother. She sleeps a lot and potentially suffers from depression. It’s these things, the background, the landscape of Lucy’s life that kills her. It’s why Lois owns so many landscape paintings. Of course she lost Lucy to a landscape, but she also wants to remind herself not to forget about the background, the issues beneath the surface. She knew that she became lost in the beauty of Lucy’s life. How care free she seemed. How she had experienced so much more than she had. In this way, Atwood is trying to tell the reader that there is depth to every situation and that nothing is truly how it appears on the surface. She wants us to know that if we don’t heed this warning, we might also suffer or cause, a death by landscape.Atwood says that the landscape paintings are “Where Lucy is” which makes sense because the landscapes were who Lucy was.


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