A sense of belonging is an innate desire to identify ourselves with groups whilst simultaneously as this may be broken by choice we ultimately need to ‘belong.’ Through Dickinson’s poetic representations in This is My Letter to the World and The Saddest Noise, The Sweetest Noise, she expresses the conflict within belonging juxtaposing the futility of acceptance whilst forming her individual identity. In contrast, modern illustrations of belonging are adopted in Luhrmann’s exotic film, Australia, and Doris Lessing’s short story, Flight. Utilising a plethora of literary, poetic and film devices, each composer explores the paradoxical nature of belonging by ultimately reflecting our desire for truth, whilst satisfying our thirst for approval.
Emily Dickinson portrays the intrinsic nature of belonging as conflict and tension arise through the understanding of one’s identity whilst conforming to society in This is My Letter to the World. The emphatic title of this poem acts as a conflict in itself, with a “letter” acting as a symbol of intimacy yet it’s being proclaimed “to the world” as a hyperbole which is incongruent with the usual representation of a letter. The congenial address with reference to “my letter” evokes the speaker’s marginalised literary voice in context of women’s position and role in her society. The “world” is personified as it “never wrote to me” also connotes with her not belonging as it could be a matter of “the simple news,” an oxymoron that outlines her bare truth in understanding the complexities of life as a profound implication of natures’ teachings. The final line of the first stanza expresses embracing nature as majestic with connotations of grace and dignity whilst it is qualified by the adjective “tender” implying the maternal nurturing of Nature.
The second stanza follows on nature’s personification through the synecdoche of the broader society in “hands” that we aren’t wary of our future as she has been embraced by nature’s “committed” exoneration. The exclamatory plea, “judge tenderly of me,” argues that there is hope for a common love of nature that will help proclaim this provocative message to the world. Furthermore, her syntax of “judge” notes that people make value in their judgement, especially when reviewing individuals’ beliefs. Yet her need to belong wasn’t reciprocated as the “letter to the world/never wrote to me” indicates world’s incoherence for individuals who search for higher ideals in truth and beauty. Similarly, the clash that occurs in one’s search for their true identity results in the polarised perceptions of life’s fleeting moments.
The Saddest Noise, The Sweetest Noise explores the dichotomy that comes about as a reaction of life’s ephemeral nature. The paradoxical title of this poem is written in superlatives which could centre that at a point of exquisite joy, one must eventually endure the pain of losing that as a realisation of its end. “The birds, they make it in the spring,”...