Mental illness is a term used for a group ofdisorders causing severe disturbances in thinking, feeling and relating. The result is adiminished capacity for coping with ordinary demands of life. Mental illnesses can affectpersons of any age, children, adolescents, adults and the elderly. In the short storiesThe Bet, Pauls Case, Silent Snow, Secret Snow the authors use isolation as a causefor mental illness. Not only is the lawyers hate for society caused by isolation in TheBet 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 ofthese 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 differentphases. He studies a large amount of literature over the years.
This is the only way hecan connect with society without violating the terms of the bet. The lawyers confinementis 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 thisluxury. This extreme removal from all human interaction is the modern equivalent ofsolitary confinement.
This confinement made a strong impression in the first few yearsof his sentence, where he experiences loneliness, boredom and bouts of severedepression. A perfect example of this is when the banker explains what happenedduringthe years of the lawyers imprisonment, . . .
the lawyer, as far as it was possible to judgefrom 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 theday before his release. The note reflected the amount of wisdom the lawyer hadacquired as well as the effects the years of isolation had on him mentally. The isolationhad a disturbing influence on the lawyers state of mind and the note revealed this bitterhatred for society.
The lawyers bitter hatred for society is shown when he writes, And Idespise your books, despise all worldly blessings and wisdom. . . yet will death wipe youfrom the face of the earth like mice underground; (Chekhov, 175). To add to the effectsthe fifteen year term had upon the lawyer mentally the isolation also took a severe tollphysically on the lawyer.
The years of prison life had aged the lawyer significantly andIn Pauls Case by Willa Cather Pauls isolation is the cause for his suicide. Paulsseparation from society first becomes apparent at school where he shows that he has astrained relationship with his teachers. Later on at school Pauls isolation becomes evenmore 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 thesecharacteristics are perceived as feminine, so it is quite conceivable that his peers mighthave thought Paul to be a homosexual. Pauls isolation goes even further whileindulging himself in one of his many interests. Many references are made in regards tothe extent that Paul becomes consumed when in the presence of art, opera ortheater. An example of this is when Cather writes, When the symphony began Paulsank into one of the rear seats with a long sigh of relief, and lost himself as he had donebefore the Rico. .
. the instruments seemed to free some hilarious spirit within him;(Cather, 150). Pauls desire to leave Cordelia St. and isolate himself is compoundedwhen he goes to New York.
After Paul arrives in New York it becomes clear that he hasno intent of going back home or being found, thereby removing himself even further fromsociety. Finally Paul realizes the extent of his actions and feels trapped. These feelingsare illustrated when Cather writes, His mind, unable to cope with the vital matters nearat hand. .
. It was a losing game in the end, it seemed, this revolt against the homilies bywhich the world is run. (Cather, 166). So he assumes the ultimate form of isolation, heIn Silent Snow, Secret Snow by Conrad Aiken Pauls schizophrenia is .