Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. The expression of themes in Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio is evident through the characters, setting, and symbolism.
The first theme that is expressed in Winesburg, Ohio is isolation. The town itself is isolated from the rest of the world and the characters are isolated from one another. They lead their lives in separate houses and don’t interact with each other much. The only time they come together is for church on Sundays. The characters are also isolated from their own emotions. They repress their feelings and don’t express them to others. This leads to a lot of pent-up anger and frustration which eventually boils over into violence.
The second theme that is expressed in Winesburg, Ohio is the need for human connection. The characters are all longing for some kind of connection with others. They want to be understood and accepted. The only way they know how to express this need is through physical touch. This is seen when George tries to hug the prostitute, when Eliza touches the doctor’s hand, and when Helen White hugs her father. The characters’ need for human connection is also seen in their relationships with animals. They treat the animals better than they treat each other. The animals are a source of comfort and companionship for them.
The third theme that is expressed in Winesburg, Ohio is the power of words. The characters believe that if they can just find the right words to say, then they will be able to express themselves and connect with others. They are always searching for the perfect word. The only problem is that they never seem to find it. The power of words is also seen in the way that the characters use them to control and manipulate others. The characters who are good at using words are the ones who have the most power in the town.
First, his wife cheated on him with a man from work. Second, Anderson felt that he had disappointed his father by marrying her. These events influenced Anderson’s writing in Winesburg, Ohio as the novel is full of stories about loneliness and alienation among residents of the town. Themes like love, sex, shame and death are prevalent throughout the book and explored in various ways through different characters.
The characters are all deeply flawed and struggle to connect with others due to their failings or shortcomings. Despite this struggle however, readers can see glimpses of hope and redemption throughout the novel as well – some characters do manage to find happiness and contentment despite all their hardships.
Overall, The Expression of Themes in Winesburg, Ohio is a novel that delves into the dark depths of human nature and explores some of the most universal themes that we all face in our lives. Sherwood Anderson’s writing is both beautiful and heartbreaking, and his characters will stay with readers long after they have finished the book.
His ambition to achieve success in business and write, as well as the conflict between his desire to leave his unhappy marriage and his duty to his family, caused a nervous breakdown that doctors diagnosed as nerve exhaustion. On the third day of Anderson’s mental collapse, he walked the streets for three days before being hospitalized in Cleveland. Another reason for his convictions is that he grew up in areas with significant differences in size. The city’s enormousness overwhelmed him at times, causing him to feel alone.
The small towns, on the other hand, felt constricting to him. The contrast could be seen in his writings as well, which alternate between gritty realism and lyrical romance.
The themes of Sherwood Anderson’s novels are often expressed through the characters’ relationships with their families, their careers, and their love lives. The pressure to succeed in business and writing can lead to conflict and mental breakdown, as seen in Anderson’s own life. The contrast between the city and the small town is also a recurrent theme in his work. This may be due to Anderson’s own experiences living in both types of places.
Anderson creates an effective symbol in this chapter to express the novel’s main idea of isolation. Because people’s actual hands are used to convey emotions, “Hands” is a story about one source of isolation: being unable to communicate feeling. The second chapter of the book is “Paper Pills,” which focuses on another form of isolation, the inability to exchange ideas.
The hands in “Hands” and the pieces of paper in “Paper Pills” are both examples of how Anderson expresses his themes through symbols. Overall, The Expression of Themes in Winesburg, Ohio is a powerful exploration of isolation and its many causes.
Through the use of symbolism and other literary techniques, Sherwood Anderson effectively conveys his central themes to the reader, painting a poignant picture of the harsh realities that face individuals living in small towns like Winesburg. Whether it be through physical barriers like hands or mental blocks like Doctor Reefy, The Expression of Themes in Winesburg, Ohio masterfully depicts how isolation can have devastating effects on one’s sense of self and community.
Because Anderson had an unarticulated relationship with his mother (Anderson, David 155-170), he uses this type of connection. Other methods by which Anderson depicts isolation and melancholy are employed. There is a distinct sexual ambiance in several of the stories. George Willard takes Louise Trunnion’s hand in his own in “Nobody Knows,” implying sexual behavior. George believes that it is only sex, but Anderson is implying that there is potential for love.
The townspeople of Winesburg do not know how to love one another. The townspeople are “caught in their own separate lives and… each lived in a little world created by himself out of his own dreams and desires” (Anderson, Sherwood 9). The townspeople suppress their emotions because they are fearful of being let down or appearing foolish. The townspeople have difficulty communicating with one another because “they did not know how to talk together and when they tried to do so they became confused and awkward” (Anderson, Sherwood 9).
The theme of communication is also expressed through the use of animals. In “The Thinker,” Theophilus Williams talks to his horse because Theophilus does not have anyone else to talk to (Anderson, Sherwood 13). The relationship between Theophilus and his horse is similar to the one that Anderson had with his mother in terms of articulation.
The theme of communication is also expressed through the character Alice Hindman who “lived like a little girl alone” because she has no friends or family (Anderson, Sherwood 16). The character named Seth Richmond also communicates with animals as well since he spends time talking to chickens and birds (Anderson, Sherwood 22). The connection between animals and humans shows that there is an inability for humans to connect with one another.
Overall, the themes of isolation and loneliness are expressed throughout Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. The characters are unable to connect with one another due to the lack of communication. The townspeople also suppress their emotions because they are fearful of being let down or appearing foolish.
The use of animals helps to express the connection between humans and their inability to communicate with one another. Anderson uses these themes to create a sense of unarticulation between the characters in order to show the difficulty in connecting with others.