Isolation and awakening in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet letter, Kat Chopin's The Awakening, and Joseph Conrad's Heart of darkness : the path to individual truth ; an honors thesis (HONRS 499)
This project examines characters in literature that undergo a journey, which separates them from society. Such a journey allows them to explore their needs and desires in an existential quest that ultimately allows them to recognize themselves as individuals. This journey follows a pattern of fall, renunciation, and redemption as seen in the story of Job. The thesis begins with a brief account of the spiritual crisis experienced by the Old Testament character Job. This well-known story serves as a paradigm for the events that all of the protagonists to be discussed experience and endure in order to attain greater self-understanding. Three novels that exemplify this spiritual and intellectual journey are discussed in independent chapters. The first chapter deals with Hester Prynne from Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. This is followed by a study of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin's The Awakening. The third, and final, chapter explores Kurtz and Marlow in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.