Isolation in American Literature Essay
Isolation in American Literature
The individual and his role in society, based on American Literature, is portrayed through many different characters, all sharing the same feelings of isolation. The feeling of isolation, in reference to Huckleberry Finn , is a choice that Huck Finn brings on himself. Throughout rebellion towards his father, Huck tries to find his true self by isolating himself from societies views and beliefs. In the novel Great Gatsby , by F. Scoot Fitzgerald, Jay Gatsby was isolated from the outside world by society.
Throughout many examples of American Literature we are aware that isolation was not a pleasurable state of freedom, but more like a state of imprisonment brought on by society. In Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Lenny was isolated by societies fear of difference. Society was prejudice against Lenny’s differences. This caused isolation in both societies standards and in Lenny’s mind. Throughout many images portrayed by American Literature, the recurring theme of isolation is a role that each character takes on based on societies beliefs, views, and prejudices.
Isolation played a key role of the character development in Huckleberry Finn. Twain carefully selected ways to show isolation in Huck’s life based on societies views of his adventures, thoughts, and of his feelings toward slavery. Huck’s beliefs in issues that society condoned isolated him from the “normal” state of living that everyone else practiced. This same view that society cast upon Huck was also thrust upon Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby . Because of his wealth and his self-removal from gossip and other immoral issues, that society thrives on, Jay too, was isolated.
Maybe this state of seclusion was brought on by society but Nick Carraway demonstrated that, “Once banishment is brought on by others, it is soon picked up within. ” (Fitzgerald, Great; 86) Hester Prinne also demonstrates a state of solitariness, in The Scarlet Letter. After society condemns her actions she goes into seclusion and lives in her own state of peace. This is brought on by societies harsh judgments. This leads to total isolation of their views in Hester’s mind. She knows that there is a difference between her beliefs and societies views of morals.
These beliefs, that she has come to accept, yet curse at the same time, cause her to continue to wear the Scarlet letter, but these beliefs also cause her to isolate herself so she is not outcast by society. Lenny Small, in Of Mice and Men , is outcast into a state of seclusion “all because of societies prejudices and views on living, thinking, and acting. ” (Hart, Oxford; 73) Always having a special place for Lenny to run off to and hide when things got tough is another example of isolation. When society didn’t feel something was right with Lenny’s behavior he would go into seclusion and isolate himself from the world.
The fact that Lenny Small was not aware of the way people outcast him exhibits another form of isolation. Lenny’s sequestration by society set the overall issue of isolation in Of Mice and Men. Huckleberry Finn isolated himself from society because he rebelled against their ignorant beliefs. Every time Huck changed identifies, he isolated himself even deeper. ” The overall character change of Huck Finn demonstrates Twains own rebellion against societies views. ” (Scott, Mark; 38) As Huck Finn comes across the different aspects, attitudes, and restrictions of society, he learns to prefer his own individual freedom over societies restrictions.
Gatsby is secluded out of both, personal choice, and societies choice. Under his own personal choice of isolation Gatsby seems satisfied, but when the issue of society condemning him arose, the view of isolation seems less appealing. When seclusion by society is made into a recurring theme in Great Gatsby, Jay tries to change his social status and forgets about his moral responsibility. He becomes like all other characters in society that judge and gossip. This new outlook may pull him out of isolation, but in the end it also kills him. The need for social acceptance pulls the trigger that ends Jay Gatsby’s life.
Throughout many examples of American Literature, it is apparent that society played a key role in character development. In numerous examples from American Literature we see that society isolated certain characters for being different than the socially accepted person. Authors, such as Mark Twain ( a. k. a. Sammual Clemmens), John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Nathanial Hawthorne, portray the best examples of isolation in their classic American literature novels. They show, throughout their novels, that the conflict between society and the individual is based on seclusion, condemnation, but most of all through isolation.