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Isolation in Another Country

Isolation in Another Country

Another Country is possibly the only novel of its time in which every character suffers from a feeling of isolation. All the main characters share in the feeling of isolation. Whether the character’s isolation is a result of race, economic situation, or even sexual orientation, each character’s life is affected. The feeling of isolation causes the characters to lose touch with reality.

This isolation is evident in the story of Rufus. Rufus is a young black jazz musician who grew up in Harlem, a young Black man fighting ” the system” to attain his dreams. Later in the novel, Rufus reveals his inner turmoil. Rufus feels isolated from society. He knows, yet is unable to accept, the racial barrier between himself and his only close friend, Vivaldo. Vivaldo is a true friend, but despite their friendship, Rufus has a constant feeling of resentment toward Vivaldo. Rufus is tormented by thoughts such as “No one dared look at Vivaldo, out with any girl whatever, the way they looked at me now;…This is because Vivaldo was white” (Baldwin 31).

The racial isolation is compounded when Rufus breaks all family ties in order to sustain his interracial relationship. Knowing his family’s open disapproval of interracial relationships, Rufus decides to leave his family and live with his girlfriend, Leona. Despite his deep love for Leona, her presence constantly reminds him of the barrier between them. She becomes, in his mind, a symbol of the society that oppressed him. She becomes a symbol of the things he could never obtain in life.

As his life becomes consumed, he plunges into the depths of despair, committing horrendous crimes against his loved ones. Rufus refuses the help of his friends. He turns to life on the streets and eventually jumps off a bridge. Before Rufus’s death, Baldwin narrates:

His own loneliness, magnified so many million times, made the night air colder. He remembered to what excess, into what traps and nightmares, his loneliness had driven him; and he wondered where such a violent emptiness might drive an entire city. (60)

Vivaldo, a close friend of Rufus, deals with his own form of isolation. A product of dysfunctional Brooklyn family, Vivaldo felt he was never loved; thus, he forces himself into loveless relationships. In these relationships he establishes a barrier between himself and his girlfriends. Vivaldo seems to be searching for love in all the wrong places–street corners and bars.

Shakespeare’s Soliloquies – Hamlet’s Soliloquy

Hamlet’s Soliloquy

The purpose of a soliloquy is to outline the thoughts and feelings of a certain character at a point in the play. It reveals the innermost beliefs of the character and offers an unbiased perspective as it is merely the character talking to the audience, albeit not directly, and not to any other characters who may cause the character to withhold their true opinions. Therefore, Hamlet’s first soliloquy (act 1, scene 2) is essential to the play as it highlights his inner conflict caused by the events of the play. It reveals his true feelings and as such emphasizes the difference between his public appearance, his attitude towards Claudius in the previous scene is less confrontational than here where he is directly insulted as a “satyr”, and his feelings within himself. In this essay, I will outline how Shakespeare communicates the turmoil of Hamlet’s psyche.

Hamlet’s despair stems from his mother’s marriage to his uncle and it is this that is the driving force behind what is communicated. His constant repetition of the time in which it took the two to get married, “But two months dead…yet within a month…A little month…Within a month…most wicked speed”, suggests his disgust at the situation and that it is not necessarily the nature of their “incestuous” relationship that troubles Hamlet; more the short time in which it occurred. In fact, this is especially well communicated to the audience as, throughout the soliloquy, the passage of time that Hamlet describes gets less from “two months” to “Within a month”. This has the effect of outlining Hamlet’s supposed contempt of his mother for only mourning a month whilst also highlighting that it is the time involved that is vexing him a…

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…t only through the diction but also through the imagery, language and underlying messages of the text. It successfully highlights the divisions of character of Hamlet whilst aiding the audience in building a connection with him.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Boklund, Gunnar. “Hamlet.” Essays on Shakespeare. Ed. Gerald Chapman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.

Levin, Harry. General Introduction. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974.

Mack, Maynard. “The World of Hamlet.” Yale Review. vol. 41 (1952) p. 502-23. Rpt. in Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1995. No line nos.

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