‘Whether an Individual Belongs Depends Entirely on the Opinions and Attitudes of Others.’ Essay

1510 WordsJun 10, 20127 Pages
Belonging is a fundamental need and value in the lives of all in society. It most commonly emerges from an individual’s experience and notions of identity, relationships, acceptance and understanding. Ultimately, to belong is to feel accepted, and this sense of acceptance is brought about by a complex combination of factors including the opinions and attitudes of others as well as one’s own sense of self-worth. This complex notion is clearly depicted in Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible and Michael Leunig 2012 calendar artwork ‘September’. In both of these texts the opinions and attitudes of others affects individuals and their sense of belonging, however, there is a complexity to both which allows for a deeper exploration and a refined understanding that belonging is also dependent on the individual and their environment. Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible is set in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts during the infamous witch trials. The play is concerned with the abuse of power and how this can impact upon society and the individual. Central to this whole concept is the theme of belonging, and the concept that humans often prey on those who are considered alienated, especially when the accuser is motivated by revenge, greed or fear. Miller describes the Salem witch trials as “One of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history.”(p. 11, ‘Note on historical accuracy’) and lays much of the blame at the feet of officialdom. At this time Salem was a theocracy, a governing system whereby the power of decision making resides in the church. In this society sin and the status of an individual’s soul were public concerns and an individual’s private life had to conform to the moral laws, or else they represented a threat to the public good. Hard work and church consume the majority of a Salem resident’s time and, thus, belonging within this community is intimately

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