The Fifth Child

1351 Words 6 Pages
The intricate complexity and astonishingly realistic descriptions of space in Doris Lessing’s The Fifth Child masterfully illuminates society’s dire inability to cope with it’s imperfection. Society demands immaculate perfection, a world free of defect, and the lust to live in a flawless utopia drives the identification and elimination of crude invalids. These desolate individuals are feared and deemed to be barbarous degenerates who must be placed beyond the boarders of functioning society to assure an uncorrupted world. Less desirable beings are cast into heterotopias or “counter-sites” while society denies their existence and feigns perfection. Lessing’s novel tears this image down and hastily exposes society’s despicable attempts to …show more content…
Correspondingly, Harriet’s unnatural differences allow her to be criminalized and she is set up for a disastrous encounter with an equally strange and bitingly irregular space. In addition to Harriet’s internal admission of her cultural flaws, the radically colourful and contemporary women chastise her for remaining a virgin. In response to the unbridled astonishment and shrieking remarks of the “dramatic”(1) women who surround her, Harriet reflects that her traditional nature is not “a physiological condition to be defended” (9). Harriet’s referral to her uncanny unusualness as a “condition” alludes to the idea of society’s marginalization of imperfect and abnormal beings in locales such as mental institutions and establishes the fate of this pitiable character as a criminal outcast. The early identification of Harriet as an outsider immediately establishes her unsettling nature and allows one to observe the ease in which she is later incorporated into a surreal and otherworldly space.

After the birth of her fifth child Ben, a confusing and violent boy, Harriet is regarded with malicious disgust from society and her family. This disrespect and mistreatment ultimately leads to her arrival at the bizarrely distorted and isolated institution. The ambiguity surrounding Harriet’s decision to venture to the institution is explicit and she is incapable of justifying her urge to embark on this
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