(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Many themes help define this spiritual problem as it appears in the Depression. From suffering come false visions and numb despair. The narrow innocence of Betty, Miss Lonelyhearts's girlfriend, brings a failed return to Eden on the farm. Shrike's comic cynicism, in denying all escape from suffering, fails absolutely to help. Miss Lonelyhearts's vision of religious order fails to communicate to his correspondents because, due to Shrike's omnipresent rhetoric, among other things, the language has lost the power to tell the truth. As Shrike's words emphasize, both nature and Christ fail to bring the moral order needed to deal with the people's problems. Only apocalypse promises to make a big enough change to heal this wound.

In the face of these moral questions without answers, Miss Lonelyhearts oversimplifies his mission. Chapter by chapter, he moves from compulsions to their opposites, from ascetic Christianity to sensual paganism, as simplistic visions of saving his people are distracted by emotionalism, sexuality, and violence. At the end, the real world remains disordered, unknown, undefined, unconquered, and man (Miss Lonelyhearts) a mortal threat to himself.

(The entire section is 180 words.)