Essay about Isolation in Winesburg Ohio and Death in The Woods

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Isolation in Winesburg Ohio and Death in The Woods

In 1919, Sherwood Anderson composed his work Winesburg Ohio, which depicts the inner lives of small-town America. Anderson’s fascination to explore what’s beneath the surface of human lives results in another story in 1933 called “Death In The Woods”. These two works, incidentally, share a common theme of isolation. The characters in these works, are portrayed as “grotesques” or people who live their lives by one truth, thus living a life of falsehood and isolation from the rest of the world. This essay will examine the theme of isolation in the two works described, and will also relate it to Anderson’s idea of the “grotesque”.

In Winesburg Ohio, the reader is first
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These short stories are linked through the character of George Willard, who is essentially the main character. Because of this, Winesburg is considered a Bildungsroman, the character development of George “the artist” to George “the man”. His development occurs through his contact and dealing with the characters in the stories. Each character offers something new in his development, as in advice or wisdom. These “grotesques” rely on George to take notice of their isolation and falsehood, in hopes of George publishing their “truths”: Each in turn comes forward to offer his secret (the material of art)
And to give up whatever fragmentary wisdom he may possess Toward the development of the artist who will be the spokesman.For everyone.” (Fussell, p.111). So, it is through these encounters with George that the reader is introduced to the strong sense of isolation and underdevelopment the characters possess.

The first example, is in the story “Hands”. Here, the character of Wing Biddlbaum is introduced, and right from the start, appears to have isolated himself from the rest of society. “Among all the people of Winesburg but one had come close to him.” (p.27). This one person, is of course George Willard, who is portrayed in this first story as a friend of Wing Biddlbaum. George is someone he can talk to, break free temporarily of his isolation. In addition to talking openly with George enthusiastically, he also was very expressive and active

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