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Essay on 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 conditions.
Goodman Brown, Minister Hooper, and Hester Pryne are isolated from
society because of their guilty consciences, and desire to hide their
shame. Eventually, each character is given a chance to redeem
themselves and avoid damnation.

In the short story, "Young Goodman Brown," the character of Goodman
Brown has an experience that changes his entire perspective on life.
Late one night he finds himself in the middle of the woods with the
Devil, on his way to a meeting of the Devil's followers. After seeing
respected townsfolk at the Devil's meeting, including his minister and
his wife, Faith, he loses hope in humanity and all that he had known
to be true or real. Goodman Brown wakes up in his bed immediately
following the Devil's meeting and wonders if what had happened was
reality or simply just a dream. Despite his confusion about the events
that took place, he was unable to forget what had happened and lost
faith in religion and his com...


... middle of paper ...


...e all contain the
common theme of damnation caused by alienation. Goodman Brown from
"Young Goodman Brown" loses faith in all of humanity and removes
himself from society which leads to his damnation. Mr. Hooper from
"The Minister's Black Veil" dies a gloomy death after living a
mysterious life behind a black veil, which hides his secret sins and
alienates him from the rest of society. Hester Pryne from The Scarlet
Letter is alienated after she sins, but redeems herself by accepting
her identity and reuniting with the rest of society. Hawthorne uses
these characters to teach two different lessons. The first is of the
damnation that is the result of alienation and isolation from society
and humanity. The second is that reuniting with society can prevent
damnation and put an end to alienation and isolation from humanity.


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