Solitude: A Human Condition
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Solitude is a condition that affects everyone. Even more than this, the vocabulary we use to describe solitude varies from loneliness to isolation to alienation, but in its essence, solitude refers to the different physical, mental, and emotional states of being alone. In his collection of essays, The "Labyrinth of Solitude," the Mexican philosopher Octavio Paz states that “Self-discovery is above all the realization that we are alone.” The implications of this statement are twofold: one, that self-discovery and solitude are intricately connected, and two, that after achieving self-actualization, we are aware of our inherent aloneness. Contrasted against the critical theoretical works of Octavio Paz and Robert Ferguson, the ten pieces of American and Latino literature that I analyze indicate that solitude can be prompted by the realization that a character is discontented with their current situation and in turn, seek out solitude. In other cases, this state of being is forced upon a character by their circumstance, forcing them to confront and reflect on the causes and consequences of their solitude. As a result, the character must make a conscious decision to seek out self-discovery or to move forward without further developing their identity. By further analyzing how the state of solitude is confronted in literature and used as a tool to reach self-discovery, we can begin to explain our countervailing need to communicate with one another and to understanding our distinct humanity.
Camarillo, Lauren A (2018). Solitude: A Human Condition. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from