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Pressures to Belong in Society

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    Belonging is the state of being accepted and comfortable in a place or group. In the words of John O’Donohue, “the hunger to belong is not merely a desire to be attached to something. It is rather sensing that great transformation and discovery become possible when belonging is sheltered and true. ” The aspects of belonging that will be explored include the pressures to belong in society or choosing not belong, how belonging is sometimes not based on truth and belonging to a place.

    These aspects will be shown through the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller, published in 1953, the novel Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden, published in 1994 and the poem “Identity” by Julio Noboa Polanco, published in 2007. PRESSURES TO BELONG IN SOCIETY: In the text The Crucible the concept of pressures to belong in society are shown through many examples. Salem society is strongly repressive and therefore forcing members of the community to conform to their strict religious rules and beliefs. Theology, sir, is a fortress; no crack in a fortress may be accounted small”, this metaphor of a fortress portraying an image of war and theology being a fortress shows how religious life in Salem is a struggle for many. The use of this metaphor represents the idea that to belong in Salem you must strictly follow the culture that is followed by all. This technique also portrays the concept that society creates ideas of how people should behave in order to belong.

    Similarly in the novel Tomorrow, When The War Began the concept of pressures to belong in society are shown in Ellie’s diary entries and through the invasion and the pressures put on Ellie and her friends to come together and fight back. The invaders also feel the pressure to take over the country and turn it in to a place where they can belong. “We’ve all had to rewrite the scripts of our lives…” is the metaphor used to indicate the pressures placed on the group by the invasion to fight for the right to belong in their own society once again.

    This metaphor also shows that in certain situations individuals feel the pressures to form a new group in which they belong as they don’t belong anywhere else. They are obligated to work and stick together in order to gain a sense of belonging once again in the wider society. In contrast the poem “Identity” explores the idea of an individual going against the pressures to belong in society. “Clinging on cliffs, like an eagle wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks” is an example of allegory used in the poem.

    It uses the animal behaviour to present the idea of being free and going against the pressures to belong in society. The jagged rocks are a symbol of the pressures place on individuals to belong in society. It brings upon the idea of releasing your true self in order to belong instead of falling to the pressures. BELONGING TO A GROUP: “At that moment only a bullet could have separated me from those people” this metaphor illustrates the belonging within a group and the connection amongst individuals.

    This conceives the idea that even in the worst of situations pressure can make us explore new ways of belonging. Although they didn’t belong in the invaded society they managed to create a group in which they did belong. The friends have found a sense of belonging which is reliant on each other and have made connections which determine their own individual sense of belonging. Whereas in The Crucible the group of girls allows us to see the negative side of belonging to a group.

    Mary Warren chooses to belong to the group in which she has more power, although her decision is partially based on a fear for Abigail. “I’ll not hang with you! I love god, I love god” this use of high modality language shows that Mary Warren has a certain status with the group of girls which she does not have in the Proctor household. Even though it is more the power of Abigail and the peer pressure of the girls that turns her away from Proctor. The group of girls are purely together due to fear and not belonging in the Salem society.

    As well the poem “identity” shows the negative outlook on belonging to a group and how on the surface it’s good but in reality it’s bad. “Always watered, fed, guarded, admired, but harnessed to a pot of dirt” is a metaphor used in the poem to demonstrate that individuals in a group will act and look a certain way in order to belong, although they are restrained from being themselves. It expresses that belonging to a group can sometimes influence an individual in a negative way, as the group have power over others and control the way they grow in society. BELONGING TO A PLACE:

    The concept of belonging to a place is explored in the novel Tomorrow, When The War Began as the group of 7 teenagers find a sense of belonging within their hide out called Hell. Hell is a place they can hide without any danger from the invading country. They find a place where they can belong just when there is nowhere else. Often we feel a sense of belonging through connection to places, alike the characters in the book. “Hell is a cauldron of boulders and trees…. It are a wild place…The cliffs all around it are spectacular, hundreds of metres high in places.

    There’s a series of small cliffs called Satan’s Steps that drop into it. ” The use of imagery in this passage created by the extended metaphor illustrates the sense of belonging that Ellie and her friends feel in Hell. It shows how in a time of invasion and not belonging they still have a strong connection to the place. It contributes to the idea of belonging to a place and how having a kind of sanctuary can provide you with a sense of belonging. Often we feel a sense of belonging through connection to places.

    Abigail and the group of girls can be said to belong in the court of Salem in the sense that they have control of proceedings. “Abby, Abby, I’ll never hurt you more” is the tone used to bring hysteria to the act. Abigail and the girls often influence the court with fake outbursts and Marry Warren has been intimidated back into it. It reveals the sense of belonging and power the girls obtain when inside the court. In the poem “identity” we see the positives of belonging to a place. It reveals the comfortable feeling of gaining a sense of belonging when connected to a certain place. Let them be as flowers in a garden” is the metaphor used to represent individuals belonging to a place which they are content with. It explores the idea that belonging can come from close links with places. Individuals are free to be themselves when they have a connection to a place which allows them to experience a sense of belonging. CONCLUSION: In conclusion the texts The Crucible, Tomorrow, When The War Began and “Identity” has been able to express that belonging is not inherently good or bad. These text show the dynamic between belonging and the individual is significantly affected by the context where the connection is forged.

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