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The Theme of Man's Isolation In Movies, Books, and Real Life

Updated on July 31, 2017
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Lena Kovadlo is a writer for various content sharing websites. She's an author of 10 books and helps other authors publish their books.


The theme of man's isolation is very much present in real life today. It has been covered in books like Kafka's novella The Metamorphosis and in movies like Floundering.

No matter where a person is from, no matter the age, the personality, the social status, or the wealth a person will experience a sense of isolation and powerlessness at some point in his/her life. There is just no way of getting around it. Some people will be able to rise above and prosper while others will find themselves unable to change things around and so their sense of isolation and powerlessness will grow even more.

Man's Isolation in Kafka's Novella The Metamorphosis

Kafka's novella, The Metamorphosis has a few themes, and man's isolation is one of them. This can be seen through the transformation of Gregor Samsa into a beetle, and the way his family and his boss react to the change.

When Gregor Samsa turns into a beetle he is rejected by his boss and his family. Upon seeing the insect, Gregor's boss runs away. The mother is scared of the bug and faints at the sight of it. The father locks Gregor in his room. He even hurts Gregor by hitting him with a newspaper and chunking apples on top of him. Grete wishes he would go away since she is tired of caring for him. None of these people think about Gregor's feelings of his transformation; instead they are more worried about the effects his transformation is having on them personally.

Gregor used to be the sole bread winner. Now that he is unemployed, and can't support them financially, Gregor's feelings are not important anymore. Being an insect Gregor is powerless. That adds to his sense of isolation. There is nothing he can do. All that's left is for him to do is watch his family in silence, since he is unable to speak.

Man's Isolation in the Movie Floundering

The movie Floundering also talks about theme of man's isolation.

Floundering is a movie about a twenty-eight year old man named John Boyz who is unemployed and trying to figure out what to do with his life.

John is isolated from society. Loneliness surrounds him and becomes a problem. Insomnia overtakes him and many nights he finds himself unable to sleep. A feeling of powerlessness is upon him too.

John has a good heart but can't do anything about the injustices that occur in his society. His brother, who is a drug addict, leaves rehab and there is nothing that John can do to help him. There are homeless people in his Venice Beach neighborhood in Los Angeles but John can't help them either, which makes him feel guilty. The IRS seizes his bank account and his girlfriend doesn't want to see him anymore. All this makes it hard for John to live and adds to his sense of isolation and detachment from society.

John's life does not bring him joy or satisfaction. Nothing interesting really happens. Every day seems to play itself over and over again, just like the group of sugar ants marching across his kitchen counter.

John tries to make sense of it all, including the isolation that he goes through every day. He wants to change the society he lives in, wants to change his own life, but he never acts and nothing happens. There is no change in his life and John feels like that is the only way he can live.

Man's Isolation in Real Life

I too have experienced the theme of man's isolation. It happened when I moved to the United States (New York City) at the end of 1992. At that time I didn't know the English language so I could not communicate with other people. Whenever lunchtime came around in school I always sat by myself. Due to my language problems all I did was go to school and then back home when school was over. I had no social life and was isolated from my peers and from the rest of the world. Even when I did learn some English my problems didn't change. I became shy. I was afraid that people might not understand me or that I might mess up my pronunciation. This kept me isolated for a long period of time.

Besides this, I was not yet accustomed to the fashion of this country and that of my peers. I wore clothes that I used to wear back in my homeland of Minsk, Belarus. People found me strange. Some people even laughed at me. No one wanted to hang out with me. When I tried to approach them they would move away. All that I could do was watch what was going on. I couldn't say anything, couldn't defend myself, couldn't stand up for myself. I wanted things to change. I wanted a better life for myself, one filled with friends and good times where I was accepted for who I am, regardless of how I talked, what accent I had, or what clothes I wore. But my English was very poor and so I felt powerless, isolated from society and oh so alone.

Thankfully, and with lots of determination, I had mastered the English language yet I was still made fun of, was still bullied, and hardly had any friends. It's not that I didn't want friends. For some reason I couldn't figure out, and can't to this day, no one really wanted to be my friend back then and same is true today it sees, as people I meet vanish.

All my life I always felt isolated from society and still do to this day. I felt like I didn't belong, like I didn't fit in and it is true now too. My friends are all cyber friends now - those from Facebook or from a writing site. They don't make fun of me, or bully me or criticize me. They are very supportive and seem to care about me a lot - something I've not felt in the real world. The downside is that I can never see them in person, can never hang out with them. All I can do is chat with them online or via text message on the phone so I still feel very isolated and alone.

I want to change my life for the better so that I am not stuck in the same place in which I've found myself for years - being single, not having a job, living with my parents, not having real life friends and more - but I feel powerless and hopeless. And that only adds to my sense of isolation and makes it hard to go on, especially when I have to pretend, in front of others, that everything is fine when in fact it is not. I am not giving up though. I will find a way to make things right in my life... I just hope that it will happen sooner rather than later.

Have you ever felt isolated from society and like you didn't belong or fit in?

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© 2013 Lena Kovadlo


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    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 4 years ago from Florida

      I can understand your feeling of isolation. As someone born in another country, it took me a while to feel like I really belonged in America. But I don't think I had as difficult a time as you seem to be having because I belong to a culture that has already integrated into the American lifestyle and I already had friends and relatives living here when I came. But I admire your spirit. Don't give up! America is a melting pot of races and cultures. You are not Gregor or Boyz; you are a human being and there are other human beings out there in the real world (not just the cyber world) for you to meet and mingle with. All the best.