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…