Throughout the entire novel, the protagonist is known exclusively as Miss Lonelyhearts. We cannot identify his real name in the story. He is only known by the code name of Miss Lonelyhearts. The character is a newspaper columnist who works for an irresistibly drunk obnoxious boss who gives him a hard time continuously by mocking Miss Lonelyhearts’ Christian faith. As the reader of the novel, we understand and recognize his struggle with the letters he receives from people who seek advice from this columnist of Miss Lonelyhearts.
A lot of these letters are serious issues, which by reading them, affects Miss Lonelyhearts and quickly puts him into deep depression. Probable readers of this novel would believe that quitting his job would’ve eased his misery, but why did he decide to continue his job? Was he an otaku and believed that the people who were sending him mails were his true “social affecters”? What is the significance of his name? Was he a “lonely” character? Throughout the entire novel, he goes through many unusual events, events that can be symbolized of him being “lonely”. As a reader, we only know a little about the background of Miss Lonelyhearts.
We reckon that Miss Lonelyhearts and Betty had some past intimacy. As of my interpretation, Betty is the only person who cares for Miss Lonelyhearts in a sense of affection that can be shown from a compassionate person; “Betty came to see Miss Lonelyhearts the next day and every day thereafter. With her she brought soup and boiled chicken for him to eat” (35). He has other affiliations with other woman in the story, but none of them are considerably close to the compassionate figure of Betty. Miss Lonelyhearts refers to Betty as “Betty the Buddha” because she is the only character who brings peace and order to Miss Lonelyhearts’ chaotic life.
There is something inside of Miss Lonelyhearts that we cannot understand as a character. He is a character with very few friends and considerably a person with lack of class. Throughout the story we can see examples of Miss Lonelyhearts as a character who has a personality that can be seen as abnormal or mentally unbalanced. In “Miss Lonelyhearts and the Lamb,” Miss Lonelyhearts has a dream of him and his friends attempting to sacrifice a lamb after a drunken college argument over the existence of God. In “Miss Lonelyhearts and the Clean Old Man,” he and a colleague harass an old man in public toilet, calling him homosexual and pervert. Eventually makes the old man cry, twisting his arm and hurting the poor man. The chapter “Miss Lonelyhearts and Shrike” recounts his failed attempt to seduce the boss’s wife. “Miss Lonelyhearts in the Country” details a trip to the countryside of Connecticut with his sometime fiancee, Betty, a trip that ends in a sexual encounter, which ends Betty’s virginal status. In my opinion, these events are something that is considered sickening and psychotic. As a grown man, this is something unacceptable. In my opinion, these events have correlations to why his name is “Miss Lonelyhearts”.
He acts like an imbecile because he doesn’t have devoted friends that he can talk to when he is depressed, or have the proper way of releasing his stress and depression other than getting drunk or hurting people, in both physically (towards the old man) or verbally (towards Betty). The way he handles these situations is very unprofessional. But the most fateful episode occurs when he receives a letter from a woman named Fay Doyle, who is “unhappily married to a cripple” and whose letter intimates that she wants more than advice from Miss Lonelyhearts.
The sexually frustrated Miss Lonelyhearts agrees to meet her for sex and, in the process, hears the rest of her story. Her husband had been an upstairs neighbor, and when she got pregnant with another man, the cripple neighbor married her and treated the child as his own. Some time later Miss Lonelyhearts receives a letter from her husband, Peter Doyle, who complains of his dead-end job as a meter reader and invites Miss Lonelyhearts to his apartment at his wife’s behest.
Miss Lonelyhearts arrives at a brutal scene in which the wife humiliates her husband, then sends him out for gin while she tries to seduce Miss Lonelyhearts. This attempt shakes Miss Lonelyhearts out of his efforts to be Christ-like, and he brutally beats Mrs. Doyle to fight off her aggressiveness. None of these events would’ve happened if Miss Lonelyhearts was more professional. Even though he has a fiancee who cares about him a lot, his couldn’t control his sexual frustrations, which ended up into this controversy. Is he that lonely that he had to sleep with someone who he barely knew?
Why not just stay faithful with Betty? Miss Lonelyhearts is a character who tends to hide his feelings from the other characters. He doesn’t really share is inner feelings and he goes through mental breakdowns after reading these letters from people. He defines himself as lonely, but truly he has what a man needs in his life, a woman to take care of him. Miss Lonelyhearts does not let others inside of his true feelings. He cannot accept anyone or trust anyone, so even when Betty acts nice towards him, he gets frustrated and annoyed by her sense of peacefulness and tends to escape from her hospitality.
He has Betty by his side, but he considers himself “lonely” because he is continuously getting annoyed by Shrike and receives letters from people who shares depression and sad stories with him, which drags him down into depression and sickness. In the end, we need to understand the heaviness of Miss Lonelyhearts’ job. Not only does he have to give advice to people, but these people are all so serious in need for help from Miss Lonelyhearts. It is no wonder why he takes his job seriously, even though his boss jokes around about his job.
But by him not being able to discuss about this job is a serious problem. He is taking all the burden of this task by himself, not being able to discuss freely with other characters in the story. He is a character who needs attention for himself as well. That is why he acts the way he does throughout the short story. To other people, this character of Miss Lonelyhearts can be seen as a person who has mental problems; beating up random old man, sleeping with people who he barely knows, and beating them without proper confrontation.