Belonging in 'as You Like It'

Topics: Sioux, Lakota people, Dances with Wolves Pages: 4 (1381 words) Published: June 22, 2013
‘The need to belong is both a gift and a curse’.
Explain the positive and negative consequences of the human need to belong, referring closely to your prescribed text As You Like It and two other related texts.

The need to belong can cause us to develop comforting relationships, powerful social groups, productive workplace teams, and inspiring religious and national bonds. But it can also be responsible for hurtful and damaging behaviour when those who are unable or unwilling to adapt are forced to conform or are completely excluded. These two aspects of belonging are evident in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and Kevin Costner’s film Dances with Wolves and W.H. Auden’s satiric poem ‘The Unknown Citizen’.

Shakespeare makes us aware of the contrasting qualities of the natural harmonious forest (where everyone seems contented and loving) and the corrupt, pompous court, controlled by the usurper Duke Frederick with his use of symbolic juxtaposition and allusion to. His fury over his daughter’s close relationship with Rosalind (the daughter of the displaced Duke Senior) reinforces their close bond. Celia describes the two of them with a harmonious image from the natural world: “coupled and Juno’s swans”. Dramatically, Shakespeare emphasises their closeness by including their good-hearted banter, and having them adopt disguises before entering the forest. Their supportive relationship gives them strength, so that instead of feeling grief as a result of their expulsion from court, they focus on the positive. Celia’s comments help us to see court and forest as binary opposites when she declares “now go we in content to liberty and not to banishment.” Shakespeare shows us how belonging in a close relationships can bring strength, but how this exclusivity may also be seen as a threat by others.

Another text which shows a surprising response to exile is Kevin Costner’s Academy award-winning film “Dances with Wolves”. In it the main character,...
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