The style of writing found in Gothic literature was used by many writers in the early 1800 and 1900s and can still be found in writing today. Within Crimson Peak by Guillermo del Toro and “Death in the Woods” by Sherwood Anderson, the theme of Isolation can be identified. Within Crimson Peak by Guillermo del Toro, “Allal” by Paul Bowles, and “Death in the Woods” by Sherwood Anderson, the theme of Isolation is found. Isolation affects both the character and plot aspects of the story and film by the authors. The effect of isolation differs from each piece; however, all can be tied together to obtain an important similarity.
Crimson Peak, directed by Guillermo del Toro, is labeled as a Drama/Fantasy movie released in 2015. The plot is slowly built upon a suspenseful and dramatic tone. The protagonist, Edith, is gradually put in a state of isolation where she becomes entirely vulnerable. What is isolation? “Loneliness is a situation experienced by the individual as one where there is an unpleasant or inadmissible lack of (quantity of) certain relationships. This includes situations, in which the number of existing relationships is smaller than is considered desirable or admissible, as well as situations where the intimacy one wishes for has not been realized” (Weiss 485-486). Isolation can become quite detrimental by the extent of it experienced. In Crimson Peak, Edith does not socialize with many individuals in her hometown of Buffalo, New York. Instead she keeps her social interactions exclusively to her family and business inquisitions. The isolation was a catalyst for many other events within the plot of the film. It created internal complications within Edith and physical ones that affected other characters in the story.
Sherwood Anderson establishes a theme of isolation in “Death in the Woods” through Mrs. Grimes’s, the protagonist, lifelong abuse and a home far from town. Isolation is a major theme throughout the story, comparable to the film. Mrs. Grimes is mentally isolated from the start of her childhood years, persisting throughout her time as an adult. As a child, she only had her master, a German farmer, who was sexually abusing and threatening her. “Such bound children were often enough cruelly treated. They were children who had no parents, slaves really” (Anderson 165). The isolation continues on in a physical way, as she lives with her husband and son far away from town. “…she lived with her husband and son in a small unpainted house on the bank of a small creek four miles away from town” (Anderson 164). If the German farmer wasn’t bad enough, Mrs. Grimes has to deal with her now husband, Jake Grimes. Jake decides it is a good idea to have a home far from town, while continually leaving Mrs. Grimes alone for days to weeks at a time. This drastically affects Mrs. Grimes mentally as she speaks about it generally. Unfortunately, this similar treatment does not end with the German farmer and Jake Grimes. The miserable behavior is picked up by the townspeople as well. “She knew no one. No one ever talked to her in town” (Anderson 167). The closest thing she has to a real connection are the starving animals at the small house. This is similar to the movie where Edith is brought comfort from a dog that was found on the property. Isolation is something that should not be partaken in the vast amounts as Mrs. Grimes has. It leads to sadness, despair, and many other detrimental factors. Mrs. Grimes gets used to all the alone time. She finds herself hopeless, and believes that there is no point in trying to have the same emotions as in a normal human being.
Isolation is quite variable in the way that it can be applied. It is a theme less talked about, however widely used by writers of vastly different styles. The two stories and film above are an example of that. The effect of isolation in “Death in the Woods” and Crimson Peak, was not a favorable one for the protagonist. What really makes isolation so interesting is the unknown factor to how the outcome will play out. Writers such as Sherwood Anderson create a powerful and moving story that is enhanced with isolation. The characters are able to develop throughout the plot while evoking certain feelings within the readers. One can achieve tones of sadness, happiness, affectionate, cautious, and more. Isolation is a theme in many variations of literature that has been used since the 1800s, to current times today. It is an effective theme that can bring out many emotions and information for a reader to feel and learn from.