“An individual’s interaction with others & the world around them can enrich or limit their experience of belonging”
Discuss this view with detailed reference to your prescribed text & at least ONE other related text of your own choosing.
An individual’s interaction can indeed enrich or limit one’s experience of belonging, as belonging is one of the essential needs of any human being. Belonging can be seen in the prescribed text of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society & Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, where the central characters are driven by their need to belong or not belong which is ultimately stimulated by the world & people around them.
The Crucible is based on the Salem community found in Massachusetts, a small & religious Puritan village of New England on the true story of how a group of young girls began the world famous Salem witch hunts that were responsible for the deaths of many innocent people due to their desperate need for belonging. The Salem community is set in an isolated area vastly distant from mainstream society, with its own social hierarchy, belief system & way of life. Its physical setting is metaphor of its seclusion and detachment from society, creating its non-belonging identity to the rest of the world.
Abigail Williams, the niece of the town’s reverend, becomes the catalyst for the play as her affair with John Proctor drives her great desires to belong as a wife. “I look for John Proctor who took me from my sleep & placed knowledge into my heart” says Abigail revealing that it was her relationship with Proctor that arouses her sense of belonging. After failing to belong alongside Proctor she searches for other ways in which she may belong, finding it among a group of girls within the village who are fed up of being treated as children & want to be accepted within the community as respected adults. By dancing in the woods, they confirm their isolation from the Salem community as they feel the repression of their natural inclination to dance when dancing is a whipping offence; however conjuring spirits that Abigail did in order to kill Goody Proctor is a hanging offence.
Abigail’s sense of belonging to this group of girls is identified when we see that she is the mastermind behind the ‘crying out’ when she says: “Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you, and you I can do it” revealing her sense of belonging through her gain of power & control over the girls that partially satisfies her hunger for acceptance.
A major character in the play that demonstrates belonging/not belonging due to their interactions with surrounding people can be seen in the character of John Proctor. Initially he is an outsider in his own family caused by his affair with Abigail, and is also an outsider in the Salem church community due to his lack of church attendance generated by his dislike of Reverend Parris that, in turn leads to his detachment from the community itself & the Salem courts. The ideology that you can only either choose to conform or not can be seen in Danforth’s speech (A Salem magistrate) when saying to Proctor “A person is either with the court or against it, there be no road in between” suggesting that his interaction with Danforth limits his sense of belonging.
After being displaced in his own family, he finds refuge in his wife after he realises that she is paying the price for a sin that he committed, and his sense of belonging becomes clear in the sense that he chooses his wife over his name & place within society demonstrated when he says “I will fall like an ocean on this court!” showing that he has chosen to not belong & will stand to suffer the consequence; death.
There are always consequences of belonging or not belonging, and this is explored in Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society, a film set in the 1950’s about a single sex boys prep boarding school, Welton...
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