The Crucible Discussion Notes.
One’s belonging will always be entrenched in the ‘belonging’ established by another group; regardless of whether or not you wish to be a part of such a group. That is to say, even if it is your aim to find your sense of belonging totally outside of another group, the course of action required to achieve this belonging through not belonging will be influenced by the sense of belonging established by the group; in your wish to contrast that belonging. A less convoluted illustration of this concept is embodied in The Crucible’s John Proctor; who we all know as the play’s non-conformist character. Proctor’s identity (identity and belonging being intrinsically linked) is defined by his rejection of the goings-on of Salem. He doesn’t go to church, and nor does he consider that fact to be the business of anyone but himself –
“I never knew I must account to that man for I come to church or stay at home” (pg. 63, act 2)
– And he finds a sense of identity only in his perceived self-worth; the worth he perceives to be associated with his name –
“Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” (pg.124, act 4).
However, Proctor’s self-worth, his identity, his belonging is drawn from a rejection of the values entrenched in the Salem community’s sense of belonging. By the decision to act contrastingly to a set of opposing values, Proctor is still allowing his identity to be dependent on the sense of belonging established by the group he abhors. Similarly, Ofelia from Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno) finds her identity in the rejection of the ‘belonging’ established in her Stepfather’s (Vidal) military base in the mountains of Spain at the close of the civil war, 1944. Consider the following, lifted from an English translation of the Spanish script. “DARKNESS
A female voice hums a sweet lullaby
THE CIVIL WAR IS OVER
HIDDEN IN THE MOUNTAINS, ARMED MEN FIGHT THE NEW FACIST REGIME. MILITARY POSTS ARE ESTABLISHED TO EXTERMINATE THE RESISTANCE.” (pg. 1, lines 1-8)
“CARMEN: Ofelia, greet the captain.....
VIDAL: Ofelia –
OFELIA extends her hand. He grabs it, firm but cold. It is her left hand VIDAL: it’s the other hand, Ofelia.”
(Pg. 8 lines 28-33, pg. 9 lines 1-4)
“CARMEN: You're getting older, and you'll see that life isn't like your fairy tales. The world is a cruel place. And you'll learn that, even if it hurts. [Throws the mandrake onto the fire]
OFELIA: No! No!
CARMEN: Ofelia! Magic does not exist. Not for you, me or anyone else.” (pg. 76, lines 6-19)
“OFELIA: The Captain – he’s not my father. My father was a tailor. He died in the war. The captain is not my father!”(pg. 10, lines 26-29) Ofelia, in a similar way to Proctor, draws belonging from being separate to the group by which she finds herself surrounded. Though she is living in the midst of a fascist military camp, Ofelia despises her stepfather; Captain Vidal, and aims to rebel against his values, finding herself protected by the very resistance group that Vidal aims to exterminate. From Ofelia’s first interaction with Vidal it is apparent that they are polar opposites; even in the symbolism of Ofelia offering the ‘wrong’ hand in their handshake of greeting. Ofelia chooses not to belong to Vidal or his ideals, though the decision not to belong is simply due to Ofelia’s spite and jealousy of Vidal’s attempt to replace her birth father. Throughout the film, the audience witnesses the degeneration of Ofelia’s relationship with Carmen (her mother); the only character with whom Ofelia originally identified. Throughout the film, Ofelia speaks of her memories of her biological father, in these tales suggesting that there was a time when her mother was similarly as...
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