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Hsc Belonging Emily Dickinson, Ugly Duckiling

1286 words - 6 pages

Belonging is an integral facet of human existence, whether it be connections to people, places objects or thoughts. Our sense of belonging is shaped by our experiences and memories, and by our innate desire to feel a connection with something meaningful. Because of this desire, not belonging can be hard and difficult to live with - however, often a sense of belonging can exist without it even being known. Aspects of belonging are apparent in selected poems by Emily Dickinson, most notably I Had Been Hungry All the Years, What Mystery Pervades a Well, and I Gave Myself to Him, the story The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen, and the song Invisible Kid by Metallica.

I Had Been Hungry ...view middle of the document...

What Mystery Pervades a Well explores a similar theme. Dickinson views the outside world (metaphorically) as a deep well with no bottom, or a jar where you only see through the lid. For her, trying to comprehend society is like “looking into…an abyss’s face” – in other words, it is unfathomable. The word abyss gives an especially dark and foreboding tone to the poem, signifying the way in which Dickinson viewed the outside world. However, despite this uncertainty and insecurity, she feels that nature - something she is familiar with - is just as unfathomable. Ironically, she is as confident in her opinion that it makes her feel secure, to know that she belongs to something just as deep and incomprehensible. To her, “those who know her know her less the nearer her they get”, where “her” represents nature.

I Gave Myself to Him is directly linked to Dickinson’s insecurity with herself and with being in a relationship. She uses commercial terms like “debt”, “contract”, “payment” and others to connote the man’s ownership of a woman in marriage. She uses the metaphor “Solemn contract of a life” to describe her negative view of marriage. While she retains this view, she also understands that marriage cannot really be understood until it has been experienced. To her, “Til the merchant buy… the subtle cargoes lie”, which proves this view. This could be taken to mean the man doesn’t know what to expect/what he’s getting until he ‘purchases’ the “cargo”, representing a wife. Again, the commercial language used emphasises the idea of ownership in marriage. Part of her insecurity stems from herself – “Myself a poorer prove, the wealth might disappoint”. What she is saying is that she believes she would not be good enough for a man, and he would only be disappointed with his ‘purchase’ – she has very little self-esteem. This lack of confidence is part of the cause for her lack of belonging, as she avoids relationships for fear of not being good enough: she herself limits her interaction with society.

The song Invisible Kid explores a similar theme of not belonging. It details a boy who is forever alone, and in the end the lack of any connections with other people makes him just a shell of his former self. He bottles up all of his emotions, “Locked away in his brain” and this causes him to be insecure and indecisive. He doesn’t know whether to seek help or “go it alone”. He then contradicts: “I’m okay, go away/I’m okay, please don’t stray too far”. This gives us some perspective on what it feels like to not belong – he...

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