Essay Theme of Alienation in Literature

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Theme of Alienation in Literature

A common theme among the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne is alienation. Alienation is defined as emotional isolation or dissociation from others. In Hawthorne's novels and short stories, characters are consistently alienated and experience isolation from society. These characters are separated from their loved ones both physically and psychologically. The harsh judgmental conditions of Puritan society are the cause of isolation for these characters and eventually lead to their damnation. The literary works written by Hawthorne, such as "Young Goodman Brown," "The Minister's Black Veil," and The Scarlet Letter, all contain characters that face these types of
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Goodman Brown is unable to forgive his wife Faith for being at the meeting and isolates himself from her. After realizing that she is also a follower of the Devil, Goodman Brown states "There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name." Goodman Brown demonstrates his disbelief that anyone on earth is good at heart anymore and that people's intentions are evil. It seems that Goodman Brown has overlooked the fact that he too was at the meeting but is still good at heart and hasn't been corrupted by the Devil. He also overlooks the fact that the chances of his experience only being a dream are very likely. Despite all of this, Goodman Brown's conscience is unable to forgive society and he ends up dying a lonely, bitter man, having not found redemption. This subconscious decision not to trust anyone anymore is ultimately the cause of Goodman Brown's damnation.

Another one of Hawthorne's literary works, The Scarlet Letter, contains the character Hester Pryne who also faces alienation. After Hester commits adultery, she is given the scarlet letter and faces lifelong shame from the rest of society. Hester isolates herself and her daughter Pearl from society and moves into a cottage on the edge of town bordering the woods. The society that Hester lives in, wishes to
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