Belonging as You Like It

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An individual shapes his or her own sense of belonging
Belonging is an intrinsic human desire, driven by an individual’s need for comfort, safety and confidence. However one’s yearning for affiliation, may lead them to shape their character and identity to fit society’s expectations, obscuring their individuality. In response, William Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy “As You Like It” asserts that one must not compromise their identity for acceptance. Similarly Theodore Roethke’s poem, “In a Dark time”, accentuates the need for an individual to first establish their own identity and shape their own sense of belonging to attain freedom and happiness away from the constricting mores of society. A holistic sense of belonging is one built on the honesty and constancy of relationships that empower and encourage us to shape our own identity and connections. In “As you like it” Shakespeare juxtaposes the filial yet hostile relationship of Oliver and Orlando with Celia and Rosalind to highlight the value of a compassionate friendship in attaining acceptance. Oliver, representive of the “envious court”, embodies the superficial and materialistic sense of belonging. This is reflected in his inner thoughts which are revealed through two soliloquies in the opening scene, “full of ambition, an envious emulator of every man’s good parts, a secret and villainous contriver against me.” Although he is referring to Orlando, it is ironic because it is in fact a description of himself. Furthermore, Oliver’s selfish desires lead him to mistreat Oliver “his horses are bred better”. The use of animal imagery highlights the lack of care Oliver displays towards his brother, and as a result of this disconnection, Orlando is forced to leave the court, demonstrating the detrimental effects of a hostile relationship towards one sense of inclusion and identity . In contrast to Orlando and Oliver, the relationship between Celia and Rosalind is described as “like Juno’s Swans.” The mythical...
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