Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Isolation

Every day we interact with objects, places and sensations that affect the way we think and feel. This can be used to the writer's advantage by planting symbols in the reader's path to reinforce a specific message, feeling or idea.

Look at the setting and the character's state of mind, and then think about what you want the reader to see. Is there a descriptive symbol or two that works naturally within the scene to help foreshadow an event or theme, or create insight into the character's emotional plight?

In Nature:

Mountain top
High elevations
A lone tree on a hill
An island
Arctic tundra
An animal driven away from the herd/family group
Snow storms
A single bird flying without a flock (geese, for example)
A lone wolf
A falcon or eagle's nest at the top of a tree

In Society:

Mental conditions
Contamination units in hospital
Victims of abuse
Victims of alcoholism or drug abuse
'Corner Kids' (kids in schools who are not accepted by others)
Solitary confinement (prison)
Padded room
Child sent to room
Deprivation chamber
Being underwater
Adrift on a raft
Alone on a boat
A teen with headphones in
Language barrier
Educational barrier
Hunting Cabin
Fishing shelter on a lake

Offshore drilling
Space Shuttle
Moon Walk
Being snowed in

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Isolation. Some are more powerful than others. A snow-shrouded cabin in the woods is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a lone wolf may not foreshadow isolation on its own. Let the story's tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

Closely related to Isolation: Alienation.


Joanna St. James said...

I especially like the advice at the end. Thank you

Christina Lee said...

Well perfect timing A, b/c I am revisiting an old character/manuscript where this is the theme!

E.J. Wesley said...

I really dig these symbolism post, Angela. Keep 'em coming!


Shannon O'Donnell said...

You are the queen, Angela! I'm sending my students to check this one out. :-)

AubrieAnne said...

You've got a nice list going here, but so many of the examples have negative conotations. I know isolation doesn't necessarily bring about warm feelings in everyone, but there are settings such as a library, private room, woods, etc that bring out a the fuzzies. Or, things like reading a book.

Susanne Drazic said...

What a wonderful list. Some of the nature ones I would have never thought of as isolation. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Elana Johnson said...

Excellent post! I so need to focus on this more.

Jessica Nelson said...

Interesting. I like your advice about tone determining certain things.

Beth said...

You really are terrific. Thanks for another great set of idea starters.

Heather said...

This is a good one! Entire novels have been written on the subject and with great success. I think adding a bit of this to one's novel is an ingredient in the recipe for a great novel.

Angela Ackerman said...

Thanks everyone! You guys are the absolute bestest!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Wonderful advice, as always, Angela! I love symbolism, but it can be a bit tricky. Your words of wisdom are most helpful.

Laura Pauling said...

Thanks, Angela. Writers can definitely relate to this one. :)

lotusgirl said...

Another great entry for all your thesauri. I hope you have a great holiday break. See you again in the new year!

Anne R. Allen said...

These posts are great. It's amazing how a list of words can actually change one's mood. Now I need to go find somebody to talk to--I suddenly feel very alone.

Karen Lange said...

Good, as always. :) Thanks, Angela!