In Mary E. Wilkins Freeman's “The Hall Bedroom,” we start out with Mrs. Elizabeth Jennings as a woman who is married but loses her parents and husband. She has the good sense to understand she cannot run the apothecary shop without the training and decides to sell the business. Jennings does seem to have a good business sense though, and works things out to where she has a boarding house. This was a promising start, and something I was expecting from Wilkins Freeman's work.

Her boarder, Mr. Wheatscroft, is not a man of means and takes the less expensive hall bedroom. The one thing he doesn't want in the room is a picture, which he feels is well executed, and asks for it to be removed so he could hang his own images. I was pleased when he presents Jenning's objections and feels he could not really argue the point because "her objections were both reasonable and sufficient". In the end he accepts her feelings, which shows he had better manners or believed women were more than objects in the real world.

Throughout the journal entries, we see Wheatscroft's fragile system, described as not a fatal malady and where he must take an expensive medication and restrict his diet. He feels his "life stretches before (him) most monotonously" and that he is basically coasting towards death in the least-preferred bedroom of a boarding house. When he begins his hallucinations, his senses compound the changing of his reality.

I thought it was interesting when the man next door heard Wheatscroft and opened the door during one such reality shift and he finds himself in his normal room, although the flickering gaslight makes the river seemed to run and ripple in the painting. 

After Wheatscroft discovers the two disappearances from his very bedroom from Mr. Addison, and after Wheatscroft continues to have his senses change over every night to sense something new in the mysterious universe of the painting, he finds others there, "living beings ... in the likeness of men and women". I believe this was when he made the decision to transition over, since this world was closed off to all possibilities of a decent and fruitful life. After the picture is disposed of, possibly by burning, I wondered if the owner was someone more than expected. Perhaps Rod Serling?

Iron Noder 2017

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