A sense of belonging can be founded through an individual’s personal aspiration to inherently connect with other people. The interaction and interconnectedness of relationships can be viewed as the most significant factor influencing an individual’s sense of acceptance within their surrounding environment and ultimately will determine the level of affiliation they can acquire personally. The comedic play “As You Like It” composed by William Shakespeare (16th Century), examines the idea of belonging to people and its significant influence over an individual. Similarly, Ang Lee’s film “Sense and Sensibility” (1997), correspondingly explores the perception of belonging through the interaction and contact with people and the relationships that are innately developed. Through the use of characterisation within both texts, the notion is thoroughly explored to exert a deepened understanding of belonging to people and how it can significantly influence an individual in most cases favorably. However, there are some instances where an individual cannot find a personal sense of acceptance within the relationships they withhold and therefore do not achieve a sense of affiliation within their social surroundings.
The idea that people and the relationships they develop are the most influential facet in deciphering ones’ sense of belonging, is thoroughly examined within Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”. This is evident through the characterisation of Rosalind and the loving familial relationship she has with her cousin Celia. As they both were “bred together” and grew up within the court , “from their cradles” to adulthood, both Celia and Rosalind have developed an inherent familial bond for one another becoming “inseparable”. Shakespeare’ emphasised on the loving and devout nature of their relationship to the audience by demonstrating Celia’s absolute adoration for Rosalind over her own Father. This can be observed when Rosalind was banished from her home, the court, by Duke Fredrick (Celia’s father). Celia’s sense of belonging to her father was weakened as he betrayed her familial trust and so asked him, “Pronounce the sentence on me my liege, I cannot live without her company”. The formality of the blank verse illustrates her detachment from her father and demonstrates the breakdown in their filial relationship. However, Shakespeare has used this to illuminate Celia’s loyalty and familial belonging to Rosalind, thus conveying their “inseparable” nature and the strong sense of affiliation between one another. (337)
Similarly, in “Sense and Sensibility” the widowed mother Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters are exiled from their home due to social expectations. However, even with the removal of their place of belonging it is their strong familial bonds and connections that allow them to find a sense of individual affiliation. This is evident towards the beginning of the film when they are introduced to their new home a small cottage in the country side which has just been juxtaposed with the Mansion seen in the previously. As they walk up towards the cottage their is a long shot that portrays the family walking towards the cottage together in a huddled group. Ang lee, has used this positioning of the camera and the actors to display the idea that it is within family they find belonging not place. This again supports the notion that belonging is most significantly founded within the people and relationships an individual withholds. (537)
Furthermore, Shakespeare’s portrayal of the loving romantic relationship between Orlando and Rosalind additionally acts as a representation of how influential the contact between people can affect an individual’s sense of belonging. With Rosalind and Orlando finding themselves in the Forest of Arden due to the external influences of powerful men exerting their hate, such as Duke Fredrick and Oliver, both characters find themselves in similar circumstances. However, it is Orlando’s love that demonstrates his sense of affiliation to Rosalind through metaphorical language by comparing her to precious objects. He passionately declares, “No jewel is like Rosalind; Her worth, being mounted on the wind” which clearly exemplifies to the audience of his complete love for her. The use of extensive amount of romantic poetry and adoring tone is used to demonstrate their love towards one another. And that they find their sense of belonging with one another no matter where they are and what place they are set, again emphasising the significance of contact between people becoming a poignant source of belonging for an individual.
As each individual is intrinsically different, where relationships and interacting with other’s may offer satisfaction to some, others find greater fulfillment in self. Shakespeare clearly demonstrates this choice of belonging to self rather through the contact of other people, through the characterisation of Jaques. Being described as “melancholy” Jaques chooses not to affiliate with the people around him, and finds satisfaction in being alone. Jaques believes that “the worst fault you have is to be in love”. His cynical tone and attitude towards love and relationships demonstrate his choice not to associate himself with others. In effect, Shakespeare uses prose to enhance one’s insight into people who chose not to conform to belonging. This is a singular instance where an individual does not find a sense of belonging through the contact between people and the relationships developed, however, represents a lonely and melancholy life. Contrary to this, majority of the character’s within “Sense and Sensibility” finds a sense of belonging through the people they associate with.
In ‘Sense and Sensibility’, Marian falls in love to a young suitor named Willoughby. However, Willoughby chooses not to belong to Marian due to social expectations, which essentially, caused personal consequences for his sense of affiliation. These consequences become evident within the last scene, “The marriage”, when Marian has been happily married to Brendan and the whole town is celebrating. There is a close medium shot of the both of them happily departing from the church, when the camera suddenly cuts to Willoughby up on a hill. Out from the town he is looking down on the celebrations with a saddened expression. Through the use of camera techniques and expression it becomes evident to the audience that he feels a sense of exclusion and detachment from the people he once was closely affiliated with. This further emphasises the consequences that can come to an individual when they chose expectations and society over the people and relationships they withhold. Nevertheless, the consequences of being lonely is welcoming to him and therefore, does not negatively affect him like
Moreover, the interconnectedness and affiliation with people is the most significant factor influencing an individual’s sense of belonging or not belonging. Throughout the text “As you like it” and the film “Sense and sensibility”, this idea is thoroughly explored through the character’s represented by the composer’s and the relationship’s they developed, either familial or romantic. However, although one can find significant belonging through another person, some can chose not to belong, such as Jaques or Willoughby and by choosing not to belong it can create consequences resulting in a sense of loneliness. However, there are singular instances, like Jaques, where choosing not to belong to people can create self fulfillment in one’s self and a sense of belonging.