Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 513
Most of the significant quotes in The Woman in the Window give readers insight into the character of Anna Fox, the troubled narrator and protagonist.
My head was once a filing cabinet. Now it’s a flurry of papers, floating on a draft.
This quote best describes Anna Fox's fall from grace, her state throughout much of the novel. We learn she was a doctor, wife, and mother before the novel begins, but she has recently lost her self-respect and her family (we do not realize just to the extent she has lost her family until it is later revealed her husband and daughter died in an accident). The filing cabinet evokes the image of a doctor's office, as well as order. The flurry of papers evokes Anna's scattered mind and her sometimes fragmented way of expressing herself.
This quote also describes Anna's state of mind and her status as an unreliable narrator. Because she drinks so often and takes so many drugs, we question her grasp of what is going on, just as much as the police and Anna's friends do.
“You live in a dream,” sneers Uncle Charlie. “You’re a sleepwalker, blind. How do you know what the world is like? Do you know, if you rip off the fronts of houses, you’d find swine? Use your wits. Learn something.”
Anna often finds comfort in old movies, particularly suspense-thrillers. She often alludes to her favorites of them, quoting memorable lines in her mind as she faces her own troubles in the real world.
The above quote is from Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt and reflects how Anna is not facing reality head-on. She hides from the pain of her trauma through substance abuse and fantasy, and she does not realize the evil that exists in her own neighborhood is not where she thinks it is.
There are parallels between Uncle Charlie in the Hitchcock film and Ethan in The Woman in the Window. Both are characters who seem like normal, harmless people. Both are initially emotionally close to the protagonists of their respective stories. Finally, both turn out to be dangerous psychopaths who endanger the protagonist's life.
Anna wishes she could be like the protagonist of Shadow of a Doubt and the other thrillers she enjoys: someone who is active and someone who fights back, which leads us to the next significant quote:
If I don't think, I can do it. If I don't think. Don't think. Thinking hasn't gotten me anywhere so far. "The definition of insanity, Fox," Wesley used to remind me, paraphrasing Einstein, "is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result." So stop thinking and start acting.
Here, Anna makes a decision to start playing an active role in her own life. She spends much of the novel musing and feeling sorry for herself. She starts improving herself when she faces her fears and chooses to leave the house and start investigating the crime she is convinced she witnessed. Lines like this show her character development, deliberate as it is.