The Concept of Belonging

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‘Belonging’ is a literary trope relevant to all types and genres of publication and film. Perceptions that affect belonging can be determined by oneself: by intrinsic flaws and attributes, by choices made by the individual, by the individual’s physical and emotional potential to belong and by society as a whole. However, these perceptions can be altered by physical and/or emotional barriers placed upon the individual. Through a comprehensive study of the poetic works of Emily Dickinson, the novel Candide by Voltaire and Gattaca, a film directed by Andrew Niccol, I have come to learn that an individual can belong or not belong as a result of various different factors. Such as belong through interests and the forging of relationships through these, belonging through or with nature as explored by Dickinson and Voltaire in Candide, not belonging as a result of isolation or exclusion and the desire to belong as portrayed by the individual, and it is thus that my personal views on belonging have been altered.

\An individual can forge relationships and a sense of belonging or not belonging through interests. Emily Dickinson explored this concept through her love and passion for writing, especially in her poems ‘A word dropped careless on a page…’ and ‘This is my letter to the world…’. In ‘A word dropped careless…’ she describes a sense of belonging through her literary works, stating that she may one day be able to belong when people read her works. She also describes the depression that such works can bring as ‘malaria’, which is a metaphor and shows the reader that some literary expression can alter our feelings in a negative way also. In ‘This is my letter…’ Dickinson describes a world that has ignored her and that through her writing she is able to reach out to the world. Dickinson was never able to belong, and was castigated because she was not able to conform to societal expectations held at that particular point in time.

In Candide, the protagonist and his...
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