Solitude And Isolation in Three Of Hawthornes Works

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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

Beatrice Rappaccini are all persons "whom some crime or misunderstood virtue, or

misfortune, has set them by themselves or in a worse companionship of solitude

(Discovering Authors). Hawthorne devoted many stories to isolated characters -

one's who stand alone with no one to look to for love or support. "For

Hawthorne, this condition of moral and social isolation is the worst evil that

can befall aman" (Adams 73). Each of the characters above are separated from

the world because of some sin or evil. Their separation is a painful,

devastating feelings. The themes of solitude and isolation are depicted in

Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, "Young Goodman Brown, "and

"Rappaccini's Daughter."

At the age of four, Nathaniel Hawthorne's father died, devastating his

mother and destroying his family forever. He later recalls how his mother and

sisters would "take their meals in their rooms, and my mother has eaten alone

ever since my father's death" (Martin 10). Naturally, Hawthorne's mother's

isolated life contributed to his personal solitude and to his stories of

solitude. Although he never reached the point she did, his life too became one

of separation and loneliness. When he was nine, a severe foot injury reduced

his physical activity for almost two years and excluded him from many activities

with other children. Soon after the recovery, his family moved to an isolated

area in Raymond, Maine. It is here that he picked up his first "accursed habits

of solitude" (Martin 3). On his relationship with his mother, Hawthorne said:

I loved my mother, but there has been , ever since my boyhood, a sort

of coldness of intercourse between us, such is apt to come between

persons of strong feelings, if they are not managed rightly (Martin 11).

Hawthorne never had a strong, healthy family life. However, his lonely

childhood was only the beginning to the many solitude years he would experience.

1825-1837 have traditionally been termed the years of solitude in

Hawthorne's life. During this time, he is described as having "a sombre, half-

disappointed spirit" (Newman 127).
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