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Essay about Theme of Alienation in Literature

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A Alienation is a common theme in literature as it can elicit many deep emotions. It can be attached to characters who have acted very drastically or who need to do so. Either way, alienated characters create a sense of intrigue with the personal reliance that they are faced with. Receiving help from others is not as applicable to these people. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” Anne Sexton’s, “The Farmer’s Wife,” and T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” each magnificently create their own sense of character alienation.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” the story is told of the isolation of a man draped with a black veil over his face. At the beginning when the minister, Mr. Hooper, and his veil first appeared in church, it took only a few seconds for the townspeople to describe Hooper in censorious terms such as mad and awful. He was not asked any questions to explain himself. Rather, these people turned on him immediately and were convinced that the veil was hiding something. The veil being black symbolizes a sense of mystery and darkness in the minister. Hawthorne described how the veil was like that of a sinful secret between Hooper and the townspeople. This secret was never revealed, which only further alienated Hooper. Despite the astonishment others felt towards him, Mr. Hooper acted very casually and did not seem to notice the fear of the churchgoers. After the services, Hooper greeted the churchgoers as he usually would by paying respects to the elderly and putting his hand on children’s heads. These indiscreet actions in no way relieved the feelings toward Hooper. Hawthorne, though, stated that maybe the congregation was as fearful to Hooper as he was to them. Rega...


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...ss man. He is like a crab that hides in his shell and scavenges the bottom of the earth with no real expectation of making acquaintances. However, this man wants to leave the world accomplished in something, but sees his time winding down to do so. This is a common theme in the piece, but the speaker never utilizes this remaining time, as he would rather play out similar situations in his mind. Being able to squeeze the “universe into a ball” would give this man some satisfaction. Nevertheless, there is no reason for the audience to believe that this will ever happen. The speaker is afraid to do anything dramatic on his own and join the world around him. Eliot frames this man as one who has simply watched the world go by and never created any real connections. He will continue to lead a lonely, indecisive life with no one else to share a bond or communicate with.


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