The Edible Woman Essay

997 Words4 Pages
The conflict between the need to belong to a group and the wish to have an individual identity is the dominant struggle for all individuals. Belonging is an instinctual human desire, as individuals seek to derive a sense of fulfilment from the act of belonging to a community. However conflict arises as it becomes apparent that conforming to societal values may involve the loss of personal identity. Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible and Margaret Atwood’s novel The Edible Woman reveal the complexities associated with belonging. It is demonstrated that many individuals, in seeking to associate with a community, may be forced to sacrifice their personal identity. Alternatively, it is shown that for some individuals this cost may be too high, leading them to disassociate themselves from their society. Miller’s The Crucible depicts the struggle for individuals to maintain their personal identity within an environment that necessitates belonging to a group. The harsh landscape of Salem has provoked the development of a community where in order to survive, it is essential to belong. The Virgin Forest is described with the religious metaphor of “the Devil’s last preserve”, evoking a sense of fear and providing a motivator for involuntary adherence to group ideology. Despite the community’s seemingly homogenous relationship, Miller observes in his authorial commentary that in order to ‘survive the life they had chosen or been born into…’ these individuals had to be dedicated to Salem’s repressive attitude. Through the characterisation of Mary, Miller demonstrates that for many, the cost of not belonging can outweigh the benefits of maintaining one’s individual identity. Her attempts to defy the authority of the girls, lead by Abigail, leads to her ostracisation from the community and a loss of power, highlighted by the stage directions describing her as ‘weaker’. She initially
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