Belonging? What does it mean to you? And what are you willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it? As the human need to belong often overtakes us and disregards morals and values in order to do what we crave so badly and connect with those around us. In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible the desire to belong has over-ridden every other thought the human mind could possibly have. As Miller examines the results when individuals neglect their beliefs and are pushed to the edges of absolute exclusion and disconnection.
Whereas in Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette’s novel Puberty Blues it is clear that two best friends are willing to turn a blind eye to their own personal morals and beliefs in order to create a popular social status for themselves and conform to the “Greenhill Gang”. And again Will Hunting unearthed a new person beneath the mean, unlovable and lonely boy in Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Good Will Hunting, by simply making an unbreakable connection with Sean Macquire.
The town of Salem is experiencing upheaval by the possible thought of witchcraft, characters are becoming so desperate that they are willing to give the “dogs the lie they want”.
It is an instinct for self-survival that people will change their views on the world around them in order to connect and strengthen the power or position they hold in their society. Danforth is a character who does exactly this, and changes his mind to suit his own priorities of becoming a “Boston Judge”.
He is a man capable of deciding ones fate by so called “ridding Salem of Satan”, and individually hanging those who refuse to give him the confession he wants such as Rebecca Nurse, Martha Corey and the Crucible himself John Proctor.
These three particular people are greatly respected in the Salem community until the beautiful, attention seeking 17 year old known as Abigail Williams causes the uproar that the devil is in Salem. Young Abigail is an independent, free thinking woman who has had a troubled upbringing, as she was orphaned and belonged to no family in particular after she watched her parents get slaughtered. Both Abigail and Will Hunting have a connection, as they are both orphans, have had troubled upbringing and never felt like they have truly belonged anywhere.
For a long while, Proctor strode around Salem as if his marriage was fine and he had never once committed a sin, a crime, though this was not true, as he had turned his head from his ill wife Elizabeth to the alpha female, Abigail. And he was frowned upon by Hale when he could recite only 9 of the 10 commandments, needing Elizabeth to correct him with just two words “Adultery, John”. Though he soon discovered that he did not belong to Abigail because “the promise a stallion gives a mare” is the promise he gave that girl. Between John and Abigail the only connection was lust, and it never lasted.
John and Elizabeth were more than just a stallion and a mare; they were a true connection and promise. He became a better husband once committing adultery as he put it behind him and swore “I will cut off my hand before I will ever reach for you again. We never touched Abby”, which expresses that he would do anything to keep his marriage with Elizabeth alive. Abigail’s promiscuity is also apparent in Puberty Blues, as the two main characters Sue and Debbie are beginning to discover their own sexuality through their conformity with the “Greenhill Gang”.
Belonging to the “Greenhill Gang’ means everything to the girls, because if they are not a part of it they are downgraded with comments such as “Rack off ya moll” but once they are accepted, they soon realise that their power has been taken from them and they no longer have opinions and must do exactly what the boys say. The girls must decide where the line is and how far they can step over it when it comes to their sexual relations with the boys, as this gives them the power they were looking for but also neglects their values and morals.
Will Hunting however isn’t worried about his sexual relationships; he is worried about letting people into his life, after dealing with abusive foster parents his entire life. He is torn between his unintelligent work mates, the industrial wasteland and the university. Sean Macquire the physiatrist is a man that turns Will Hunting’s life upside down, the moment he first meets him. They make an unbreakable connection by sharing stories and opening up with each other. These sessions that Will spend with Sean, make him soon realise that he does belong and he is loveable though he still “has to go see about a girl”.
Sean was a big part of Will’s life because if they hadn’t met, Will may have completely wasted his life and alienated himself from others. Both Will Hunting and John Proctor cross paths with their belonging issues, as they are unsure of themselves and who they truly belong to. But once their eyes have been opened they realise where it is they should belong. And that is to themselves, not their friends or wives, themselves.
As Procter discovers his true meaning of his life, he yells with all his might “It is my name and I cannot have another in my life….. Leave me my name! This is where he “has his goodness” and no one, not even Elizabeth could possibly take it from him. So yes, belonging is an instinct for self-survival and is triggered by a sense of alienation. In all my three texts, it is clear that John Proctor, Will Hunting, Sue and Debbie all experience a need to belong. And at first they all disregard their morals and values and are unable to order their priorities, but in the long run they discover that neglecting their personal morals and values is too much of a price to pay to just belong. So again I will ask you, what are you willing to sacrifice?