Theme Of Alienation In Literature Essay

1146 words - 5 pages

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. Regardless, the aloofness of Hooper did not help bring him closer to the churchgoers.
Furthermore, one of the key images in “The Minister’s Black Veil” was the ‘sad smile’ that Hooper exhibited throughout the story. Though so much darkness was attributed to Hooper when he wore the veil, he gave off a glimmering of light when around others. For example, when Hooper’s wife tried to get him to remove the veil, he stayed firm in his veil wearing with his smile being used as a reminder that this was his choice and he had his reasons. Although it might have increased his alienation, Hooper never changed the portrayal of his emotions,. However, the veil did make Hooper a better clergymen. More people would demand to see him to repent their sins or to speak when on their deathbed. Here, the difficulty in Hooper’s veiled life was demonstrated. He gave tremendous help and donated ample time to these people, yet in return he received nothing. He was both feared and unloved, making him unreachable in facets of life where joy could be shared. Hooper was alienated both socially and physically. When Hooper’s wife, the closest person in his life, left him he somehow smiled at these disastrous events. He was able to oddly laugh to himself...

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