Winesburg Ohio Critical Analysis
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Written by Sherwood Anderson in 1919, Winesburg, Ohio, a collection of short stories, allows us to enter the alternately complex, lonely, joyful, and strange lives of the inhabitants of the small town of Winesburg, Ohio. While each character finds definition through their role in the community, we are witness to the individual struggle each faces in trying to reconcile their secret life within. A perfect example of two characters are Alice Hindman and Enoch Robinson. The loneliness and illusion that encompass the lives of Alice Hindman and Enoch Robinson are the result of the discrepancy between their own capacity for intimacy and affection and the inability of others to truly understand them.
In the short story, “Adventure”, Alice Hindman lives a life full of illusions and loneliness. Alice is a very quiet person on the exterior while a passion boils underneath. Alice Hindman is limited by life denying truths and guilty of allowing them to run her life. She believes in love and tradition absolutely. Alice’s blindness to the changing social mores limits her capacity to progress forward in life. She become consumed instead by the idea of herself and her memories. “It is not going to come to me. I will never find happiness. Why do I tell myself lies?” (Anderson 117). If she cannot have Ned, she will have no other.
This extremity of emotion brings her to downfall. Her tendency to limit her own abilities by her nature of fixed habits or unmovable convictions isolates Alice from her community and distorts her features. She had once been a beautiful girl but grows into a woman with a head too large for her body. This is symbolic of her self-consumption, loneliness, and illusions. “I am becoming old and queer. If Ned comes he will not want me.” (Anderson 117). She grows to support the theme of life in death, living within her own imagination and memory to the point that her head is nearly expanding under the stress. She denies herself the reality of life by narrowing the experience to a dream world. By making absolute convictions and believing her own lies, Alice refuses to meld her worlds of dream and reality together. For example, Will Hurley, the man who walks her home from Church meetings, is an impostor into her narrowly constructed universe and thus she does not want to...
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...asy life. When a woman invades this life, he cannot compromise the two worlds once again and one must be destroyed. “Enoch Robinson is so open to the power of the feminine that he feels his own identity would be “submerged, drowned out” by any intimate relationship with a real woman.“ (Rigsbee 435). Of course, Enoch’s attempts at happiness would be destroyed but the story lies in the story of Enoch’s absolute hold on his particular truths which cannot be maintained. Enoch continued to live a lonely life, full of illusions. “I’m alone, all alone here. It was warm and friendly in my room but now I’m all alone.” (Anderson 178).
Alice Hindman and Enoch Robinson were two perfect examples of how a person can live a life full of illusions and loneliness. The main cause of their distorted lives was due to the inability of others to truly understand them. For example, Ned and Alice’s friends didn’t understand Alice and Enoch’s wife and art friends didn’t understand them. This caused them to make their own lives interesting, which they did by creating illusions, which also encompassed unwanted loneliness from Alice and Enoch both.
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