Iceberg Theory and "Loneliness" by Sherwood Anderson
Iceberg Theory applied: The Pursuit for Enoch Robinson's 'Unconcealed Self' in "Loneliness" by Sherwood Anderson
Twentieth century American literature illustrates the emergence of stories and characters that reflect real life -- that is, a respite from romantic or idealistic notions of people's lives, as depicted in literary works. In Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio," readers are presented with a realistic depiction of the American life and individual. The novel, published in 1919, is a collection of short stories that illustrate the lives of people in Winesburg, Ohio; each vignette gives readers insights about an individual/character's personality and a different perspective of life in general.
Anderson's depiction of life in the novel has become popular and influential that American writers of the same period had followed his perspective in narrating life as a work of art. Among these writers is Ernest Hemingway, well-known novelist, whose literary style of writing was heavily influenced by Anderson's work, "Winesburg, Ohio." Hemingway's genius led him to create exceptional and well-acclaimed literary works, and in the course of his career as writer, he conceived of the "Iceberg theory."
This theory, formulated in the 1930s, is stated as follows by Hemingway: "If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling those things as strongly as though the writer had states them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one eighth of it being above water."
Simply put, the iceberg theory provides an explanation for the reader-writer connection, where details not illustrated or clearly illustrated in the story are "created" and "understood" in the minds of the readers. This theory takes into consideration the fact that readers and writers establish a 'connection' in the act of reading the text, wherein knowledge of the writer's style and perspective of narration by the reader marks the point of connection, illustrated as follows: writer ( text ( reader.
In this paper, the researcher tries to look into the relevance of Hemingway's iceberg theory to Anderson's novel. More specifically, the analysis includes a closer study of the story "Loneliness," and how its protagonist, Enoch Robinson, is an example of Hemingway's 'iceberg,' an individual always in the pursuit to conceal his true self to other people for fear of losing his individuality.
Bases for the analysis are two references: Anderson's "Loneliness" and a critical essay by Kim Moreland (2000), which centers on Anderson's work, as applied to Hemingway's iceberg theory.
In order to understand the context in which the iceberg theory emerges in "Loneliness," it is vital that Moreland's analysis be included in the discussion of the theme of pursuit of individualism as reflected in Enoch's character in the story.
Entitled, "Just the tip of the iceberg theory: Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson's "Loneliness," Moreland's article discusses how Hemingway's conceptualization of the iceberg theory possible stemmed from Anderson's effective depiction of the theory's definition through Enoch's character in "Loneliness." Initially, the author first tackles the nature of the theory and its possible origins. Iceberg theory, as it was conceptualized Hemingway, shows how stories and characters can provide detailed information about themselves without saying or disclosing too much. Words, events, or situations that are unspoken are disclosed, according to the theory, as long as there is an understanding, on the part of the writer, what he is writing about, and there is also understanding on what the writer talks about, as understood by the reader. The occurrence of iceberg theory in a literary work becomes evident when writer and reader undergoes a "fill in the blanks"-type of understanding.
The 'iceberg' where the theory derives its name is that element in a literary work, " ... In which so much is hidden yet also revealed, not only because it appealed to his psychological need to conceal yet disclose ... But also because it resonated with a provocative version of aesthetic omission, concealment, and disclosure." This concept of the 'iceberg' in the theory may perhaps be likened to the psychological concept of the iceberg as explicated by Freud: there is a part of the self that people, and even the individual himself, do not know. Popularly known as the superego in psychology, the submerged…