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Belonging Essay

1196 words - 5 pages

Emily Dickinson’s poetry ‘This is my letter…’, ‘What myster pervade a well’, ‘I had been hungry all the years’, ‘I gave myself to him…’, Alejandro Innatritu’s film Babel (2006) and Franz Kafka’s novella Metamorphosis (1912) collectively explore ideas of belonging. (ADD ANSWER TO DIRECT QUESTION). They represent how belonging and exclusion from society contributes to shaping one’s sense of self and identity to determine their position in the larger world. The texts highlights how belonging to people and places within both social and cultural contexts, is dependent on the choices we make to feel accepted or remain an outsider, as voluntary social isolation affected deaf-mute protagonist Chieko ...view middle of the document...

Despite this, however, Dickinson’s social exclusion belied her desire to connect on a metaphysical level with others via her poetry and accompanying letters. However what she desired from social and cultural belonging was not a sense of acceptance but rather a searching mind like her own, to explore the mysteries “whose limit none have ever seen”. As this is unattainable, her choice of not belonging is conveyed in her poetry which displays dynamic shifting of spatial co-ordinates to establish or eradicate personal connections.

Similarly, Innaritu explores the emotional effects of the complexities between voluntary social isolation and the desire to belong to a different cultural context via the protagonist Chieko. Deaf-mute Chieko faces barriers of communication and stigmatizing. This is represented by the distance and fury towards her father serving as a collective expression of frustration to society, as she aggressively signs “you never pay attention to me!” to which her father responds “Why do you always want to fight?”, implying her sense of ostracism is self-imposed. Conversely, the protagonist’s desire to experience the norm within her social context is represented via the exchange of shy glances with teenage boys from afar. However, after the boys “look at us like we’re monsters”, Innaritu employs and absence of sound and extreme close up shot of Chieko’s emotionally distraught face followed by a sequence of the desolate streets of Japan. These scenes collectively serve to heighten her emotional suffering, by paralleling the streets to her loneliness and displaying the impact of her voluntary reclusiveness.

Kafka’s novella also endeavours to highlight the impact of voluntary social isolation on the human psyche. Gregor’s dehumanizing metamorphosis reinforced via the imagery of “vermin” becomes a metaphor for the feelings of alienation, which epitomise the human condition entering into modern times. Gregor exposes his paradoxical psychological state via his stream of consciousness as he “belongs” as an objectified “tool of the boss” to provide financial stability to his family but is excluded from personal attachment exemplified by his sister serving food “using a rag, not her bare hands” symbolic of their growing barrier. Kafka’s use of descriptive language and repetition of harsh ‘s’ sounds such as “hissing”, “slammed shut with a stick” reinforces the father’s harsh attitude and distance generated between Gregor and his family, subsequently leading to his introspection of himself demonstrating a psychological state that resonates with modern readers today.

Dickinson’s poetry also underpins her view of her position in the world primarily in terms of contrasting and shifting polarities. Her poetry reflects gender-based alienation and...

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