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Essay on An Analysis of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio

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An Analysis of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio


Under the guise of simplicity, Sherwood Anderson weaves an intricate tale of man's struggle for understanding and love in Winesburg, Ohio. Against a backdrop rich with symbolism, he examines man's truths crumbling behind the walls he has built.

Anderson employs a strong use of symbolism in "Adventure." Waiting in vain for a self-made fantasy to realize, Alice Hindman sacrifices a meaningful life within society. Alice's "outward existence appears to run steadily downhill into dull meaninglessness, her inward life climbs with increasing intensity toward a climax of desperation and hysteria" (Joselyn 450). The intensity, "a passionate restlessness," forces Alice to realize that she "could not be cheated by phantasie" and must face the bitter truth about life (Anderson 118). She sheds her clothes as if they were her lost dreams and erroneous ideas and runs naked outside. Her exposed, naked body is a symbol of her openness for the truth. This vulnerability leads to a her moment of epiphany: "that people must live and die alone" (Anderson 120).

Imprisoned in a life lacking in passion - spiritual and sexual - Reverend Curtis Hartman, in "The Strength of God," struggles to find his purpose in life. He wonders "if the flame of the spirit really burned in him" (Anderson 148). Breaking a sacred window satisfies his voyeuristic desires, but he remains in emotional turmoil. In the moment of epiphany, he smashes the window beyond repair with the revelation that his struggle was "a trial of my soul... in preparation for a new and more beautiful fervor of the spirit" (Anderson 155). Powerfully symbolic, the breaking of the glass was like breaking the bonds of inhibition that restrain...


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...sburg, Ohio Text and Criticism. Ed. John H. Ferres. New York : The Viking Press, 1966. 421-431.

Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio. Winesburg, Ohio Text and Criticism. Ed. John H. Ferres. New York : The Viking Press, 1966. 23-247.

Asselineau, Roger. Language and Style in Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio. Winesburg, Ohio Text and Criticism. Ed. John H. Ferres. New York : The Viking Press, 1966. 345-356.

Fussell, Edwin. Winesburg, Ohio: Art and Isolation. Winesburg, Ohio Text and Criticism. Ed. John H. Ferres. New York : The Viking Press, 1966. 383-395.

Howe, Irving. The Book of the Grotesque. Winesburg, Ohio Text and Criticism. Ed. John H. Ferres. New York : The Viking Press, 1966. 405-420.

Walcutt, Charles Child. Naturalism in Winesburg, Ohio. Winesburg, Ohio Text and Criticism. Ed. John H. Ferres. New York : The Viking Press, 1966. 432-443.


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