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65279; Isolation as a Cause of Mental Illness Mental illness is a serious problem. Mental illness is a term used for a group of disorders causing severe disturbances in thinking, feeling and relating. The result is a diminished capacity for coping with ordinary demands of life. Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, children, adolescents, adults and the elderly. In the short stories The Bet, Pauls Case, Silent Snow, Secret Snow the authors use isolation as a cause for mental illness. Not only is the lawyers hate for society caused by isolation in The Bet but it is also the cause of Pauls suicide in Pauls Case.
Finally in Silent Snow, Secret Snow Pauls schizophrenia is the product of his personal isolation. The authors of these short stories succeed in portraying isolation as a cause for mental illness. In The Bet by Anton Chekhov the lawyers isolation causes his hate for society. Over the course of the lawyers fifteen year sentence he goes through many different phases.
He studies a large amount of literature over the years. This is the only way he can connect with society without violating the terms of the bet. The lawyers confinement is different from the usual prison. Normally an inmate would be able to interact with other people, but while serving his sentence under the banker, but he did not have this luxury. This extreme removal from all human interaction is the modern equivalent of solitary confinement. This confinement made a strong impression in the first few years of his sentence, where he experiences loneliness, boredom and bouts of severe depression.
A perfect example of this is when the banker explains what happened during the years of the lawyers imprisonment, the lawyer, as far as it was possible to judge from his short notes, suffered terribly from loneliness and boredom. (Chekhov, 171). The effects of lawyers ordeal were evident in the note that the banker discovered the day before his release. The note reflected the amount of wisdom the lawyer had acquired as well as the effects the years of isolation had on him mentally. The isolation had a disturbing influence on the lawyers state of mind and the note revealed this bitter hatred for society. The lawyers bitter hatred for society is shown when he writes, And I despise your books, despise all worldly blessings and wisdom yet will death wipe you from the face of the earth like mice underground; (Chekhov, 175). To add to the effects the fifteen year term had upon the lawyer mentally the isolation also took a severe toll physically on the lawyer.
The years of prison life had aged the lawyer significantly and he had become an old man. In Pauls Case by Willa Cather Pauls isolation is the cause for his suicide. Pauls separation from society first becomes apparent at school where he shows that he has a strained relationship with his teachers. Later on at school Pauls isolation becomes even more distinct after looking at his lack of acceptance among his peers. This absence of friends may also be attributed to Pauls interest in art, opera and theater. Many of these characteristics are perceived as feminine, so it is quite conceivable that his peers might have thought Paul to be a homosexual.
Pauls isolation goes even further while indulging himself in one of his many interests. Many references are made in regards to the extent that Paul becomes consumed when in the presence of art, opera or theater. An example of this is when Cather writes, When the symphony began Paul sank into one of the rear seats with a long sigh of relief, and lost himself as he had done before the Rico the instruments seemed to free some hilarious spirit within him; (Cather, 150). Pauls desire to leave Cordelia St. and isolate himself is compounded when he goes to New York. After Paul arrives in New York it becomes clear that he has no intent of going back home or being found, thereby removing himself even further from society.
Finally Paul realizes the extent of his actions and feels trapped. These feelings are illustrated when Cather writes, His mind, unable to cope with the vital matters near at hand It was a losing game in the end, it seemed, this revolt against the homilies by which the world is run. (Cather, 166). So he assumes the ultimate form of isolation, he commits suicide. In Silent Snow, Secret Snow by Conrad Aiken Pauls schizophrenia is the product of his personal isolation.
Paul first isolates himself in school. He removes himself from the rest of the class often daydreaming of snow. His parents and teachers show concern for him and believe that Paul is not paying attention. Yet this is just the beginning of Pauls personal separation from society. This becomes obvious when looking at the extent to which Paul tries to hide his snow dreams from his parents and doctor. Paul demonstrates his need hide his dreams when the doctor is questioning him, the voice in Pauls mind says, Tell them to go away.
Banish them. Refuse to speak. Leave them, go upstairs to your room, (Aiken, 140). Paul dreams that there is more and more snow on the ground, and it is the snow which muffles the postman's footsteps. The sound of the postman's footsteps represents Pauls removal from society. As the footsteps become increasingly silenced, Paul becomes more and more removed from society.
Finally Paul breaks down under examination from the doctor letting out the secret he has been trying to keep. It is at this point when the postman's footsteps become silent and Pauls isolation becomes complete. Pauls persistent delusions and hallucinations of snow are two of the main symptoms of schizophrenia. Close examination of Isolation as a Cause of Mental Illness shows that the authors succeed in depicting isolation as a cause of mental illness in the short stories The Bet, Pauls Case, Silent Snow, Secret Snow. While in itself this statement is proven by the lawyers disdain for society in The Bet, but it is also affirmed by Pauls suicide in Pauls Case. Last but not least in Silent Snow, Secret Snow Pauls dementia shows that he was the product of his personal isolation.
Clearly mental illness is a serious problem and should be properly treated with new medications and rehabilitation which helps to bring hope in the fight against this disease. Bibliography 65279; Aiken, Conrad. Silent Snow, Secret Snow. The Secret Sharer and Other Great Stories. Ed. Abraham H.
Lass and Norma L. Tasman. New York: Penguin Group. 1969. 125 - 144. Cather, Willa. Pauls Case.
The Secret Sharer and Other Great Stories. Ed. Abraham H. Lass and Norma L.
Tasman. New York: Penguin Group. 1969. 145 - 167. Chekhov, Anton. The Bet. The Secret Sharer and Other Great Stories. Ed.
Abraham H. Lass and Norma L. Tasman. New York: Penguin Group. 1969. 168 - 176.
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