Conflict in The Interior Castle by Jean Stafford Essay

Conflict in The Interior Castle by Jean Stafford Essay

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Conflict in The Interior Castle by Jean Stafford

The Interior Castle by Jean Stafford is a very disturbing but thought-provoking story of a woman who creates a separate world within her head after being severely injured in a car accident. The conflict of the story is Pansy’s attempted escape from pain. Throughout the story she develops an incredibly intricate world within her own mind. She attempts to run from the pain she feels by retreating into this world in which she has made for herself.

After arriving at the hospital with severe facial and cranial injuries due to a car accident, Pansy Vanneman began to lock herself away within her head in silent, unspoken hopes of escaping the terrible pain that surged throughout her body. She spoke mainly to herself within her head and very rarely graced the nurses or attendants with any words at all. She began to wrap her entire existence around what she thought was her one true reason for living: her brain. She did not necessarily worship her mind, but it was the organ itself that intrigued her. In the accident, her brain had been unscathed and she now believed it was some magnificent being that was above anything or anyone that came in contact with her.

Throughout the story, Pansy tries to escape any form of pain she feels by retreating deep into her mind, her “jewel”, as she called it. Even gazing out of the window from her hospital room causes her some form of pain. She sees nothing but death and sadness in the world as she gazes upon the cold, lifelessness of winter. Everything appears cold and dead to her. Her escape is always into her “sacred brain”, as she thought it should be called.

It seemed from time to time, her brain would let her down in one way or another. The bra...


... middle of paper ...


...for by throwing herself around in such ways, she ran back into her mind, hoping to escape any damage that might be done to her.

Still, in the end, her brilliant brain, lying in its “shell-pink satin case”, could not save her from the pain. It couldn’t stop the physical pain of her injuries and it couldn’t block out the reality of the real world. She felt it had failed her by allowing her to be violated by such hurt as the good Dr. Nicholas had inflicted upon her. It could not even shut out the fact that she would one day have to return to the world in which everyone else lived. She lay there, in horrible pain, with what she now referred to as her “treasureless head”. Pansy believed her brain to be so superior to all things; she thought it could shut out the real world for the rest of her life. When she realized it could not do so, it suddenly lost its worth.

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