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By Ian Heath

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Yet, as I have just mentioned, both lilacs and the road are “leveled” to fit with a general atmosphere of geometric artifice. Furthermore, the juxtaposition of images of opposing worlds—in a very subtle, Chekhovian way—makes them (and as a result, these worlds themselves) evoke and interpenetrate each other. For example, the “velvety grass” outside of the house corresponds—on the basis of softness—with the “soft carpeted stairs” and “soft rags,” and by its color, with the “green” coat of the footman.

On the one hand, there is an outside world with its lilacs, grass, and even a touch of wild nature (the coarse swamp boots) brought by the narrator into the house. All that seems to be opposed to the atmosphere of the house, in which everything is “wrapped,” “enveloped,” and hidden from the daylight. The comparison of the façade to a theater further contributes to this opposition between the house and the world of nature. Yet, as I have just mentioned, both lilacs and the road are “leveled” to fit with a general atmosphere of geometric artifice.

When we encounter this word for the first time, it does not seem to possess any emotionality or poetic quality: он проводил меня в покои (he [the footman] showed me in). ” But further in the passage, it becomes clear how the motif of tranquility is important for the description of the house. The recurrent usage of the word покой (tranquility) in the space of several lines brings the reader back to покои (in plural form, as “chambers”) in order to discover the potential of poetic imagery—or one might say, a touch of irony—hidden in this word from the very beginning yet activated only by its further juxtaposition with the word покой.

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