Out of all of literature’s enduring themes, the dichotomy between the individual and society proves continually relevant no matter what the era. It makes sense-- it is only natural that as humans confined to seeing the world through our own differing person-by-person lenses, we constantly find ourselves attempting to understand how our neighbor’s perception contrasts with our own. The collective sum of these variations is the whole of society, shifting its form based on the fluctuations of its countless individual elements. Nineteenth century American literature saw a proliferation of writers addressing this issue more overtly than ever before, thus bringing individualism to the thematic forefront of a generation of writer’s works. As contemporaries, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville engaged previously celebrated notions of individualism in varyingly nuanced ways, both ultimately leaning towards the belief that incongruence with society will unavoidably lead to the degradation of the individual.
McGraw, J.D., "Bearing Down on the Lone Wolf" (2015). English Class Publications. 18.