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Discussing The Influence Of Environment On Identity. An Analysis Of "Preludes 1917", "Rhapsody On A Windy Night" & The Poems "Chinese New Year" And "School"

1096 words - 4 pages

What groups of society can we relate to? What morals help create the basic foundations of our lives and influence our actions? Identity is an ever-changing characteristic which defines a person and sets him/her apart from the rest of the population. We are however not simply born with a set of values, morals and ethics but we as humans forge them, we forge our identity by responding to our environment and by extrapolating the consequences of our actions and beliefs based on past experiences. These two significant factors (environment and experience) help shape who we are and consequentially who we are to become. The poet T.S Eliot discusses the significance of these intertwining factors and the general notion of identity in his poems Preludes 1917 and Rhapsody on a Windy Night, these texts can be juxtaposed to more narrative works such as Chinese New Year and School however apparently different each work is in structure all hold common fundamental ideologies relating to identity.Preludes explores the identities (or lack of) of people from a war-torn, alienated society struggling through a monotonous daily routine. The poem forges a direct link which is reiterated throughout between the identity of humans and the environment in which they reside. Eliot indicates the influence that the environment has upon a person is insurmountable, this "environment" does not only include physical surroundings but refers to a plethora of external factors such as people and position in society. "The morning comes to consciousness" through this personification the composer creates a foreboding atmosphere and creates the sense of disinclination in the environment that is in turn reflected by the persona of the residents. Metaphorically, the morning symbolises a drunken man reluctant to arouse from his slumber and the reader is able to deduce that this lethargic, sluggish atmosphere created is also a direct reflection of the people.Preludes also scrutinizes the monotonous, repetitive nature in which these individuals live. "One thinks of all the hand that are raising dingy shades in a thousand furnished rooms" Through the constant repetition of daily routine and each member holding similar morals and ethics Eliot comments that it is untrue in this case to say that each person has a unique identity, as in this society one would not be able to tell himself/herself from their neighbour. The underlying theme in Preludes 1917 is the significance of the environment and external factors in shaping a person's identity.School by Peter Cowan is a short story based on the memories of a child nostalgic with life on the farm. Like Preludes School suggests the importance of external factors in shaping the identity of a person.In School the external factors take the form of the two fatherly figures in the child's life that he looks to for support, "There was the light in the house and they sat at the meal and there was talk and if he wanted to say something they listened". The...

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