Journal of a Solitude Essay - Masterplots II: Women’s Literature Series Journal of a Solitude Analysis

May Sarton

Masterpieces of Women's Literature Journal of a Solitude Analysis

According to Sarton, Journal of a Solitude was written with publication in mind. The journal focuses on specific themes, and Sarton herself says that she consciously leaves much unsaid in the journal. For example, in a 1983 interview, Sarton says of X: “X is my lover, is neither male nor female, has no name, no profession, no place of habitation, on purpose, because . . . I had to protect this person.” Nevertheless, X is a critical part of the journal because of Sarton’s themes, among them the value of solitude, the difficulty of being a creative woman, passion that goes beyond youth, and the value of maturity.

Sarton introduces the first of these themes, solitude, in the title. At the time she begins the journal, her parents are dead. She lives alone. What Sarton has—and values—is space and time, essential luxuries for creativity. She says of solitude that one of its chief values is that “there is nothing to cushion against attacks from within,” and throughout the journal, she explores the meaning of her situation: “The fact that a middle-aged, single woman, without any vestige of family left, lives in this house in a silent village and is responsible only to her own soul means something.” She learns through her introspection that creativity requires both time and space, luxuries not available to most women, particularly to those who are married and, even more so, to those who have children.

In exploring the theme of creativity in women, Sarton repeatedly questions how and if women can take on marriage and children and still be creative. She speaks of two young women students, at Wellesley College, who both married and quit writing poetry. Sarton contends that, for women, marriage is an “earthquake” but, for men, marriage changes their goals much less. She sees a traditional marriage relationship as an obstruction to creativity for women and concludes, “No partner in a love relationship (whether homo-or heterosexual)...

(The entire section is 811 words.)