Self Imposed Isolation Essay

1538 words - 6 pages

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a prolific writer, weaving some of the best-known stories in American literature. While Hawthorne’s works tend to focus around the Puritan themes of sin, he was usually critical of Puritan ideals. Some of Hawthorne’s works (“Young Goodman Brown”, “The Minister’s Black Veil”, and The Scarlet Letter) have characters living life outside of their Puritan communities and can be classified as outsider narratives. Young Goodman Brown, Reverend Hooper, Arthur Dimmesdale, and Hester Prynne are all outsiders in their communities, but what makes the characters unique is that they chose to be outsiders.
The Scarlet Letter, perhaps Hawthorne’s most famous work, is also an excellent example of an outsider narrative: most major characters introduced in the book can be labeled as outsiders. The most obvious examples of outsiders in the book are Hester and Dimmesdale, though Dimmesdale’s isolation is subtler in the eyes of his community. Stromberg argues that Hawthorne uses these outsider figures as stand-ins for the Devil (275). While Hester and Dimmesdale are quite obviously outsiders, it seems odd to say that they are representative of the Devil since Chillingworth seems to transform into an unsavory character throughout the book. However, Stromberg does express the core reason why Hester and Dimmesdale can be considered outsiders in the eyes of the Puritan community:
The mark of the [Devil], which both Hester and Dimmesdale war in their different ways, is the sign of disassociation from community, the sin which they committed in violating the laws of their society, and which they commit again in the desire to make themselves happy at the expense of everyone around them. (275)
Happiness, a force that usually brings people together, drives Dimmesdale and Hester to the edge of the community figuratively and, for Hester, literally (Letter 95). However, as the quote above points out, this is a choice; Hester and Dimmesdale could have lived life according to their community’s ideals but they opted for a different life.
Thomas believes that it is important to analyze the relationship between Hester and Dimmesdale as a love story (186). Thomas states that Hawthorne works with the myth “…that America offers the hope for a radical break with the past and the promise of a new start” (186). But Hester, though she could have gallivanted off into a young American, decides that she wants to stay in Boston and Dimmesdale hides himself in a gloomy apartment overlooking the cemetery (Letter 93, 145). Thomas thinks that the love story is part of Hawthorne’s vision on the possibilities of life: while the two could have started a new life elsewhere, they instead clearly chose their outsider lifestyle to be close to each other (186). The community of Boston does not force Hester and Dimmesdale’s isolation upon them, they impose it upon themselves.
Chillingworth is another character in The Scarlet Letter that can illustrate self-imposed outsider...

Find Another Essay On Self-imposed Isolation

Isolation in The Metamorphosis by Kafka and Heart of Darkness by Conrad

1221 words - 5 pages instances when, “Gregor had absolutely no intentions of opening the door… locking all the doors” (6). This impacts Gregor by leading him to lock himself away and retreat to his room. What began as imposed isolated, is now becoming self imposed. As a result, he starts to “feel abandoned in the empty room” where “he had been used to his furniture for so long” (Kafka 33). As man continues to live his life according to what society wants rather for

Mary Shelley and Flannery O’Connor: Gothic Isolationists

2129 words - 9 pages Clerval’s, Victor’s dearest friend, worry in Volume I Chapter VI of Frankenstein: “My dear Frankenstein”, exclaimed Henry, when he perceived me weep with bitterness, “are you always to be unhappy?” (Shelley 47). At first, Victor’s isolation is self-imposed due to the fact that he chooses his scientific experiment over social interaction. Subsequently after the “birth” of his creation, Victor continues this alienation because he must keep his creation a

Morality and Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1162 words - 5 pages , but his maternal relatives were supportive and saw to it that he attended college, the first in his family to do so (Turner 33). During four years at college, despite his reclusive nature, he established close friendships with his male classmates, several of which he maintained for life. These four years of shared human companionship were contrasted by the following twelve years of self-imposed isolation spent in the upper floor of his mother's

I am a Rock

809 words - 4 pages .’’(22-23) ‘’I have my books and my poetry to protect me.’’(20-21) The womb is a symbol of protection for the most vulnerable entities, and the room symbolizes a barrier and separation from danger. The speaker uses books and poetry to occupy the void to purposely fulfill the speaker’s self-imposed isolation. By the use of metaphor, the poet successfully depicts isolation and loneliness visually as well. Through this poem, the poet Paul Simon

The Struggle for Acceptance

1036 words - 5 pages world and submerge themselves in the safety of the sewers, safety and escapism which the protagonist always desired. As a consequence of his delusions and his self-imposed isolation, he feels even more detached from people because of their inability to comprehend and relate to his state of mind. The Protagonist’s seclusion culminates in the creation of another persona of himself. Often times seclusion from society tends to have adverse effects, it

The Scarlet Letter

782 words - 3 pages institutions. By using metaphors that compare Nature to freedom, Hawthorne highlights the positive side of Nature and reveals Nature's ability to provide relief and release. Significantly, Dimmesdale does not repeat the experience of release until he is in the forest again. The forest, as a representative of nature, lets Dimmesdale out of his self-imposed isolation, and the isolation of the Puritan community. While surrounded by Nature he experiences the

Frankenstein

1480 words - 6 pages " (52) in Ingolstadt as a replacement for the school's laboratory. It is a self imposed division he chooses due to the fact of his scientific experiments. He stays in his laboratory creating the monster, even though he has not seen his family for a long time. Even if Victor chooses isolation, he many times insists that the only reason he is isolated is because of the creature:I must absent myself from all I loved while thus employed. Once

What is Punishment, and does it really work?

929 words - 4 pages three forms of discipline; Imposed Discipline, Self Discipline and Collective Discipline.Imposed discipline can be defined as steps and procedures. This would be the introduction to a routine or system of doing something. For example a new recruit is told how to correctly wear a uniform, as time progresses he or she no longer needs to be told this, it becomes part of their Self-Discipline.Self-discipline is a persons set of built in or added

Symbolism and Foreshadowing in Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

1787 words - 7 pages ". (Vincent 71) The lesson leads us to understand there are many selves that make up the one all encompassing "self", and thus provides an additional connection between the sermon and the doomed voyage. The "self" is the ship, the Pequod, and the selves are the crew. Detailed in the sermon are Jonah's attempt to flee from God's command by try to sail to Tarshish, and his self imposed entombment in his cabin. A conscience ridden Jonah attempts to

parents influence on the development of self-esteem

1748 words - 7 pages vs. Mistrust, Autonomy vs. Shame and doubt, Initiative vs. Guilt, Industry vs. Inferiority, Identity vs. Role confusion, Intimacy vs. Isolation, Gererativity vs. Stagnation and Integrity vs. Despair)The stages that apply to parents influence on the development of a Childs self-esteem are the first five stages from birth to adulthood, Trust vs. mistrust : babies must learn to trust their parents care and affection if this is not done the babies

Society's Membership

1208 words - 5 pages become more of a standardized lifestyle. How to dress, what to like, and even how to act are imposed by what society believes is acceptable. For this reason, many people believe that the traits that make them different from others need to be covered in order to be part of a society. The identity or distinct personality of an individual has lost value because it needs to fit a certain mold in order to be accepted. For instance, Kenji Yoshino in his

Similar Essays

Self Imposed Cultural Isolation Of New Zealand

886 words - 4 pages Zealand has been mired in the self-imposed cultural isolation because of its over-dependence on other foreign cultures and inflexible persistence on traditional cultures, especially expresses in New Zealand films. Firstly, I argue that New Zealand has over-dependence on foreign, specifically UK culture. As the history of New Zealand’s relationship with the UK mirrors closely the history of the growth of New Zealand as a modern nation, today’s New

Maestro By Peter Goldsworthy And Into The Wild, By Sean Penn

659 words - 3 pages protagonist’s passion towards life. In Maestro, Goldsworthy creates specific visual images to explore the theme of isolation and Keller’s self-imposed exile. Focusing on Keller’s self-imposed exile Goldsworthy uses hyperbole “Town of drunks”, to intentionally present Darwin as a place of escape. “Nothing, my dear, could make me homesick”, like Darwin’s other inhabitants, Keller is a fugitive but instead of running away from the law, he is fleeing his

Isolation In The Dance And The Railroad And The Strong Breed

576 words - 2 pages , they share many similarities including often mirroring their society and some of their treatment of other characters. In The Dance and the Railroad, Lone has self imposed his isolation from the rest of the railroad workers. He describes them to Ma as “dead men,” believing that they have lost their spirit working for the “white devils”. Lone does not seem to respect his countrymen and withdraws instead to practice his craft. These feelings

Mary Shelley And Flannery O’connor: Gothic Isolationists

1197 words - 5 pages Volume I Chapter VI of Frankenstein: “My dear Frankenstein”, exclaimed Henry, when he perceived me weep with bitterness, “are you always to be unhappy?” (Shelley 47). At first Victor isolation is self-imposed due to the fact that he chooses his scientific experiment over social interaction. Than his subsequently after the “birth” of his creation, Victor becomes alienated because he must keep his creation a secret. Victor rationalizes his alienation