Themes Of Winesburg Ohio Essay Research Paper

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Themes Of Winesburg, Ohio Essay, Research Paper Braxton Mr. Lane English 102 25 July 2000 The Expression of Themes in Winesburg, Ohio Winesburg, Ohio is a compilation of short tales written by Sherwood Anderson and published as a whole in 1919. The short tales formulate the common themes for the novel as follows: isolation and loneliness, discovery, inhibition, and cultural failure. In order to examine these themes, Anderson’s history must be understood and examined to provide illumination upon why Anderson came to such beliefs about human life. Sherwood Anderson was born on September 13, 1876, in Camden, Ohio. In 1884, Anderson and his family moved to the small town of Clyde, Ohio. Clyde, Ohio, is the model for the town of Winesburg. Anderson hated his father because of

the lack of love shown to his mother and resented his father because of the humiliation and poverty that his father caused. Two major events shaped the feelings of Anderson about life. First, when he was only nineteen years old, Anderson’s mother died, and his family pursued to split apart. Second, after marrying and moving to Elyria, Ohio, Anderson had a mental breakdown due to two things. The pressures of trying to succeed in business and writing and the conflict between his yearning to leave his unhappy marriage to Cornelia and his commitment to his family caused a breakdown that doctors diagnosed as nerve exhaustion. During the mental breakdown, Anderson walked the streets for three days before being hospitalized in Cleveland. Another reason for his beliefs is that he lived

in places that contrasted in size. The size of the city overwhelmed him at times, which gave him a feeling of isolation. Anderson, also, despised industrialism because industrialism emitted a more impersonal atmosphere (White). In “Adventure,” Alice Hindman is destroyed by industrialization and the city. The city and the search for money steal her only true love and her only chance at happiness. At the end of the story “Adventure,” Anderson writes “began trying to force herself to face bravely the fact that many people must live and die alone, even in Winesburg (Anderson, Sherwood).” The themes of loneliness and isolation are expressed by describing the characters as grotesques. The grotesques are the people who have become obsessed with an idea or mannerism, such

that, they have lost contact with their fellow Man. Anderson sets the course for the theme of isolation in the first three chapters, excluding “The Book of the Grotesque.” The first chapter is called “Hands” and involves the sad story of Wing Biddlebaum. Because Biddlebaum is accused of having molested students that he taught, his hands embody the shame that he carries. Fearing that the presence of his hands will be misinterpreted, Biddlebaum hides his expressive hands. By creating the symbol of hands in this chapter, Anderson creates an effective symbol to express the theme of isolation in the novel. Because a person’s physical hands are used to communicate feeling, “Hands” is a tale about one of the sources of isolation, the inability to communicate feeling.

“Paper Pills” is the second chapter of the novel and deals with another cause of isolation, the inability to communicate thought. Because Doctor Reefy is afraid of communicating directly to another person, he writes his thoughts on little pieces of paper to prevent his thoughts from being misinterpreted. Because Doctor Reefy cannot find an appropriated avenue of communication, he allows these repressed thoughts to become products of his hands by throwing the pieces of paper, which have hardened into little “paper pills,” at his friends. The intensity of his isolation is magnified through the absence of isolation in brief periods. For example, the short moments of embrace shared between him and Elizabeth Willard. “Mother” is the third chapter of the novel and deals