Essay Alienation

Essay Theme of Alienation in Literature

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Theme of Alienation in Literature

A common theme among the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne is alienation. Alienation is defined as emotional isolation or dissociation from others. In Hawthorne's novels and short stories, characters are consistently alienated and experience isolation from society. These characters are separated from their loved ones both physically and psychologically. The harsh judgmental conditions of Puritan society are the cause of isolation for these characters and eventually lead to their damnation. The literary works written by Hawthorne, such as "Young Goodman Brown," "The Minister's Black Veil," and The Scarlet Letter, all contain characters that face these types of…show more content…

Goodman Brown is unable to forgive his wife Faith for being at the meeting and isolates himself from her. After realizing that she is also a follower of the Devil, Goodman Brown states "There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name." Goodman Brown demonstrates his disbelief that anyone on earth is good at heart anymore and that people's intentions are evil. It seems that Goodman Brown has overlooked the fact that he too was at the meeting but is still good at heart and hasn't been corrupted by the Devil. He also overlooks the fact that the chances of his experience only being a dream are very likely. Despite all of this, Goodman Brown's conscience is unable to forgive society and he ends up dying a lonely, bitter man, having not found redemption. This subconscious decision not to trust anyone anymore is ultimately the cause of Goodman Brown's damnation.

Another one of Hawthorne's literary works, The Scarlet Letter, contains the character Hester Pryne who also faces alienation. After Hester commits adultery, she is given the scarlet letter and faces lifelong shame from the rest of society. Hester isolates herself and her daughter Pearl from society and moves into a cottage on the edge of town bordering the woods. The society that Hester lives in, wishes to

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Essay on Alienation

In all of the pictures and stories and the movie we were exposed to in this unit alienation was the key to making them impact the way that they made you think. Especially in “Do the Right Thing” the alienation was ever present. Alienation shapes the way we live, think, and exist as human beings.

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In all of the stories we read, the main character or idea was impacted greatly by the alienation that they faced. The one that stuck with me the most was “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost. When I was reading about how his neighbor used a wall to alienate himself from the people surrounding him I couldn’t believe that he would actually like it. Especially when he said, “a good wall makes a good neighbor”. I thought about that statement for a long time trying to figure out what he was thinking about. It occurred to me that he just didn’t agree with things being blown or tossed into his yard by the people surrounding him, but ten I thought a little bit deeper into the issue. I thought about his mindset and what could posses him to create such a barrier. Then I thought that maybe in the area of the world that he was living in, solitude was part of the upside. Maybe he was living there just to get away from the outside world. He could have been a writer or an artist and not wanted anyone interrupting his thought process. It’s not like he was completely anti-social because he seemed cordial enough when he would talk to his neighbor when they would repair their wall every spring. That is the only way I could make sense of the fact that this man was alienating himself from everyone in the outside world and thus changing the way that he exists as a human being.

The pictures were a little bit more in depth. There were so many that we went through that it was hard to get a structured, single idea that they were all painting or taking pictures about. I came to the conclusion that all of the art work we looked at were about some emotional feeling that the artists had. They all seemed to be rather dark and almost manic depressive. They all contained alienation unlike “Mending Wall”. I feel that this is more of a way for the artist to express what their minds think about their own existence. Maybe they felt alienated because they were different or had something tragic happen in their lives. The somber moods of these pieces of art were a very vivid, and sometimes creepy, expression of how the artist’s minds think.

In the movie “Do the Right Thing” the alienation factor had levels. There were the people that thought they were being alienated by someone and then the people that were alienating other people and also the people that were alienating themselves. Often throughout the movie I noticed that sometimes the people that thought they were being alienated by someone else ended up alienating others themselves. The plot thickened when Bug Out wanted pictures of black people up on the wall of an Italian restaurant which was owned by Italian Americans who would rather just keep to themselves and not get involved in the racial issues of the time. When it eventually escalates into a full scale riot I realized what the title was really about. When everyone in the neighborhood was standing outside the restaurant everything could have ended by one person doing the right thing. Someone could have stood up and said that it wasn’t the owners fault that Radio had died and then it would have all been over. But no one could find it in their soul to stand up and fight the mob mentality. These people’s existence as human beings was changed and twisted by the alienation that they felt.

Overall I liked this unit and I learned a lot of things about life and how different people deal with different things. Alienation is one of the worst feelings you can have if it’s forced upon you, or maybe it’s what you desire and hope for. Either way it makes you feel alone and separated from the outside world. This feeling can change your life, thinking and overall existence as a human being.


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