Analysis of Three of Hawthorne's Works: Solitude and Isolation

2063 words 9 pages
Analysis of Three of Hawthorne's Works: Solitude and Isolation

Julia Pesaresi Burns 3rd Period Pre-Ap English 20 February 96

Solitude and isolation are immense, powerful, and overcoming feelings.
They possess the ability to destroy a person's life by overwhelming it with gloom and darkness. Isolate is defined: to place or keep by itself, separate from others (Webster 381). Solitude is "the state of being alone" (Webster 655).
Nathaniel Hawthorne uses these themes of solitude and isolation for the characters in several of his works. "Hawthorne is interested only in those beings, of exceptional temperament or destiny, who are alone in the world..."
(Discovering Authors). Hester Prynne, Arthur Dimmesdale, Goodman Brown, and
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Every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those with whom she came in contact, implied...that she was banished, and as much alone as if she inhabited another sphere... (Arvin 13).

The community's "social ostracism made her into a type of moral solitude"
(Levin 22). Hester Prynne becomes a lonely woman, isolated from everyone. Her overwhelming sense of guilt forces her to live in a world full of darkness and gloom. "It is Dimmesdale whom secretly tortures" (Doren 15). Arthur
Dimmesdale through the seven years, stood a witness of Hester's misery and solitude. He watches Hester's public isolation while suffering from his own privately. Dimmesdale silently torturing inside, engages in "heterodox modes of self- punishment" (Abele 47). "[He] suffers in complete isolation, for the sin is all within him..." (Ringe 90). He is miserable and lives in complete solitude, rarely leaving his home. He "becomes suspicious of all mankind and seeks reasons for his keeping silent" (Ringe 90). He deliberately isolates himself from the town for fear that someone will find out about his sinful life.
He is "a prisoner in the dungeon of his own heart" (Brodhead 162). Revealing himself would release his fear of recognition, thus would rid him of his isolation. Unfortunately, he chooses solitude rather than having to consistently facing the people to make him feel


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