Texts may show us that a sense of belonging can emerge from connections made with people, places and the larger world. To what extent do the texts you have studied support this idea?
‘Happiness is only real if shared’. This insightful quote from Sean Penn’s 2007 film Into the Wild shows that any sense of belonging must arise through connection we make with others and the wider world. Shakespeare’s play As You Like It also demonstrates this, and shows that belonging is a natural instinct and one fundamental to a meaningful life.
The setting of As You Like It plays a crucial role in shaping the idea of belonging in the play. Like the typical pastoral, the beginning of the play is set in court, a place established as a hub of corruption and political tension. Orlando’s house is described as a ‘butchery’ as his brother plots to kill him, ‘[Rosalind] is banish’d’, and Duke Senior calls courtly life ‘painted pomp’. The combination of images suggests estrangement and not belonging. By contrast, Arden is a free, untainted setting where characters are able to develop relationships without conforming to rigid social constraints. Also, the transition from the high density of formal verse in the opening scenes to the more frequent use of prose, signifying acceptance and familiarity, towards the end reinforces this transition from tension and not belonging to unity. This harmonious ending is epitomized in the final scene in which ‘these eight…take hands’. That the characters do form relationships there in which they belong is a clear indication that belonging is an innate part of the human condition. In essence, through the natural setting of the play, Shakespeare emphasises that belonging is a natural state of humanity.
Similarly, Into the Wild contains pastoral elements that contribute to belonging in the film. Like the ‘painted pomp’ of the court in As You Like It, Penn portrays society as ‘oppressive’, employing dark metaphors of warfare to reinforce this;...
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