Sense Of Belonging Explored Through Literature

1413 words - 6 pages

The concept of belonging is deeply fused to humans’ interrelationships, with acceptance from others being the key to a sense of belonging. Numerous texts reflect the fact that engaging in relationships with others, including varying groups and cultures, is integral to a feeling of belonging. However other texts present ideas that suggest identity is the most integral aspect of belonging, or that in fact an introspective alienation from others is necessary to belong. This essay will discuss the importance of acceptance to belonging and also how other aspects hold equal value with reference to various texts, namely the poems ‘This is My Letter to the World’ and ‘I had been Hungry all the Years’ by Emily Dickinson, the artwork ‘The Two Fridas’ by Frida Kahlo, and the film ‘As it is in Heaven’ directed by Kay Pollak.

Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘This is my Letter to the World’, presents an exploration of the poet’s alienation from society and her simultaneous desire to connect with it, hence displaying her need to belong through connections to others. Dickinson’s use of the pronouns, ‘this’ and ‘that’ in the first two lines of the poem immediately establishes Dickinson as an external entity isolated from society. This is further depicted in the contrast created between Dickinson’s ‘sweet countrymen’ and ‘me’ where the two phrases’ physical isolation on separate lines exemplifies their disconnectedness and hence demonstrates Dickinson’s alienation from the camaraderie connoted by ‘countrymen’. Further, in the line “the simple news that nature told” nature is personified to represent a Pantheistic God. As the ‘simple news’ is symbolic of Dickinson’s work, this places the poet as a vessel for nature and hence relegates Dickinson to a higher, transcendental level of existence further separating her from the human level of society. Alongside this, Dickinson presents her longing to connect with the community she is isolated from. The line, “This is my letter to the world” for example, juxtaposes the personal minutiae of ‘my letter’, a metaphor for Dickinson’s attempts to connect with society, against the all-encompassing ‘world’ which overwhelms and belittles her, hence symbolising the ineffectuality of the poet’s attempt to be accepted by society. Further, Dickinson’s oxymoronic plea to “judge tenderly of me” reflects the futility of her search for belonging as the phrase is indicative of the paradoxical pull in Dickinson between her alienation and her longing for connections. Overall, Dickinson uses the poem to explore her alienation from society and how her attempts to counter her isolation are unsuccessful, suggesting that she can never truly belong. (284)

Similarly, the artwork ‘The Two Fridas’ by Frida Kahlo investigates the breakdown of Kahlo’s own dysfunctional marriage and how this severs her from society’s acceptance. The artwork also shows how the tensions and fusions between Kahlo’s opposing cultural identities and her acceptance in them...

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