Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Isolation

Every day we interact with objects, places and sensations that affect the way we think and feel. This can be used to the writer’s advantage by planting symbols in the reader’s path to reinforce a specific message, feeling or idea.

Look at the setting and the character’s state of mind, and then think about what you want the reader to see. Is there a descriptive symbol or two that works naturally within the scene to help foreshadow an event or theme, or create insight into the character’s emotional plight?

In Nature:

Mountain top
High elevations
A lone tree on a hill
An island
Arctic tundra…

In Society:

Mental conditions
Contamination units in hospital
Victims of abuse…

These are just a few examples of things one might associate with Isolation. Some are more powerful than others. A snow-shrouded cabin in the woods is a strong symbol, and likely will not require reinforcement. However, a lone wolf may not foreshadow isolation on its own. Let the story’s tone decide if one strong symbol or several smaller ones work the best.

Closely related to Isolation: Alienation.

Symbolism is a universal language that can add great depth and meaning to your story.

So you can reap the full benefit of this powerful tool, we’ve expanded the entire collection by 70% and integrated it into our online library at One Stop For Writers. Each entry comes with a long list of ideas for symbols and motifs, and we’ve included popular symbolism examples from literature and movies, as well. These entries have also been cross-referenced for easy searchability across all our other thesauri. To see a free sample of the updated Symbolism and Motif Thesaurus along with our other collections, pop on over and register at One Stop.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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16 Responses to Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Isolation

  1. Karen Lange says:

    Good, as always. 🙂 Thanks, Angela!

  2. These posts are great. It’s amazing how a list of words can actually change one’s mood. Now I need to go find somebody to talk to–I suddenly feel very alone.

  3. lotusgirl says:

    Another great entry for all your thesauri. I hope you have a great holiday break. See you again in the new year!

  4. Thanks, Angela. Writers can definitely relate to this one. 🙂

  5. Wonderful advice, as always, Angela! I love symbolism, but it can be a bit tricky. Your words of wisdom are most helpful.

  6. Thanks everyone! You guys are the absolute bestest!

  7. Heather says:

    This is a good one! Entire novels have been written on the subject and with great success. I think adding a bit of this to one’s novel is an ingredient in the recipe for a great novel.

  8. Beth says:

    You really are terrific. Thanks for another great set of idea starters.

  9. Interesting. I like your advice about tone determining certain things.

  10. Excellent post! I so need to focus on this more.

  11. What a wonderful list. Some of the nature ones I would have never thought of as isolation. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  12. AubrieAnne says:

    You’ve got a nice list going here, but so many of the examples have negative conotations. I know isolation doesn’t necessarily bring about warm feelings in everyone, but there are settings such as a library, private room, woods, etc that bring out a the fuzzies. Or, things like reading a book.

  13. You are the queen, Angela! I’m sending my students to check this one out. 🙂

  14. E.J. Wesley says:

    I really dig these symbolism post, Angela. Keep ’em coming!


  15. Well perfect timing A, b/c I am revisiting an old character/manuscript where this is the theme!

  16. I especially like the advice at the end. Thank you

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