Individuals will all at some stage in their life be alienated and dislocated yet also accepted and connected. These experiences and feelings are determined by the individual’s interactions with others and their world. A person’s interaction with society and authority figures will often diminish a sense of belonging and identity if one is forced to conform to societal expectations. Furthermore interactions with others based on dishonesty and manipulation will ultimately result in a limited sense of belonging.
Despite this, if an individual’s relationship with others involves a sense of acceptance and honesty, then this interaction will enrich their sense of belonging and aid the individual in finding a sense of self and identity. This enrichment and limiting of belonging can be demonstrated through Arthur Miller’s allegoric lay ‘The Crucible’ and Melina Marchetta’s novel ‘Looking for Alibrandi’. Both texts make strong statements about society, highlighting flaws and issues that both limited and enriched the composer’s sense of self and unity.
Miller strongly demonstrates how many individuals can be pressured to conform to societal expectations ultimately alienating them as they lose their sense of self. Abigail Williams pressures all the girls to belong in her group, and in particular, Mary Warren in Act 3. Mary warren feels as though in John Proctor’s eyes, she is just a child, a servant and of lower class. After choosing to go against her former peer group, the girls turn on her resulting in Mary giving in and choosing to return to the group as she does not wish to “hang with John Proctor” yelling “I love god, I love god”.
She makes this informed decision based on saving her own life and feel as though she belongs to Abigail’s group. “Abby, Abby, I’ll never hurt you more”. In contrast, Deputy Governor Danforth is a proud and powerful symbol of the theocracy and authority in the Salem society. He particularly uses high modality when speaking with John Proctor as he believes that “a person is either with this court or he must be count against it, there be no road in between.
This emphasises the two juxtaposing alignments in the society, whereby one either belongs or does not. The contrast here lies in the divide between individuality and social conformity. The motif of weight appears when Reverend Hale enters the town carrying “books weighted with authority” symbolising the pressure people are under to conform to the rules of society. The motif then reoccurs when Giles Corey is being crushed to death and asks for “more weight” being symbolic of him not giving in to the pressure of society and dying for his innocence.
Furthermore, the title of the play “The Crucible” is a metaphor of heat symbolises the pressure and what is happening to the accused and the Salem Society as they “burn a hot fire, it melts down all concealment”. The character of John Proctor being a non-conformist, proud and brave stays true to his own identity and faith, choosing to reject enforced belonging and find a sense of self-acceptance by belonging to his own values he does not feel the need to fit in with the theocracy, instead he distrusts and dislikes Reverend Parris. I see no light of God in that man”. The result is his family’s numerous absences from church. Proctor’s lechery causes guilt and withdrawal from society along with a sharp rift in his relationship with his wife Elizabeth.
He feels as though he is no longer worthy of goodness. “I cannot mount the gibbet like a saint, it is a fraud, I am not that man”. Similarly, the importance of the name motif is revealed when proctor is forced to give up his ‘good name’ in service of the Puritan agenda. “It is my name! I cannot have another in my life, leave me my name! . The emphasis of his words lies in the symbolism of the name as a spiritual individuality that is destroyed should Proctor betray his personal ethics. He then symbolically ‘tears the paper and crumples it’ not letting pride overcome him. He chooses to keep his dignity and dies for his pursuit of personal faith and individual identity. By resisting the temptation to live and choosing to adhere to his own ideals, Proctor becomes an outcast, in the end suffering for his differences in his church dominated community.
Despite this, all individuals have an inherent desire and need to be connected to another entity to feel a sends of comfort, however if betrayal occurs, disappointment can follow. The characters within the play that do not have a working relationship which is positive, result with themselves experiencing isolation. This effectively conveys the idea that relationships are a key part of everyday life. Miller effectively uses imagery to highlight Proctor’s guilt and the disappointment he feels, as well as his inability to reconcile his relationship with his wife. The magistrate sits on the court that judges you”. This results with Proctor unable to have a satisfactory relationship with his family “oh Elizabeth, your justice would free beer! ”. This metaphor reflects Elizabeth’s coldness towards him; however johns love for her and her reciprocal commitment help him back towards a sense of acceptance, for “it needs a cold wife to prompt lechery”. This is a symbol of sensory imagery of the action of Elizabeth in the past leading up to the affair.
Furthermore, the effective simile “I will fall like an ocean on that court” emphasises the love john has and that the unity a working relationship has can provide opportunities. Although betrayal of family can create disappointments in relationships, the love and compassion in a positive working one can create opportunities for change. In conclusion, it is clearly evident that both composers Arthur Miller and Melina Marchetta successfully achieved and explored the ideas raised on belonging in their texts “The Crucible” and “Looking for Alibrandi”.
Courtney from Study Moose
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