Both conforming to and challenging the societal structures can have serious psychological consequences. Feelings of affinity often generate a sense of empowerment constituted by shared values and interests. However, where there is a schism between the values of the individual and those Of the group to which they seek to belong, feelings Of isolation, rejection and alienation can ensue. Moreover, individuals often respond to group hegemony by oscillating be;men conforming to and challenging the group’s conventions, thus oscillating between a state of unity and isolation.
The poems “This is My Letter to the World” and “I Had Been Hungry All the Years” by Emily Dickinson illuminate Dickinson desire to at once challenge and enrich the literary world as she oscillates between the desire for unity and autonomy. Similarly, the TV series “Brides of Christ” by Ken Cameron explores the way in which an individual’s struggle to conform to a community while simultaneously challenging it in order to retain personal autonomy can lead to various consequences that may affect the state of an individual’s belonging. This is my Letter to the World” reflects the apparent sense of isolation and seclusion that Dickinson feels as she abstains from the trick boundaries set by the social and the literary worlds during her era, thus hindering her from attaining a sense of belonging. Dickinson metaphoric “letter” symbolizes her body of work that is incongruous with the established standards demanded by the Romantic literary canon, in which the poem’s brevity and ambiguity challenged the traditional poetic and social conventions of her time, leading to her apparent exclusion and rejection.
Dickinson sarcastic and sardonic tone as she claims that “the world never wrote’ to her highlights her desire to communicate with and ultimately enrich the literary oral with her “letters”, however its differences and incompatibilities with the poetic standards served as a barrier that ultimately prevented her from attaining a sense of belonging within the community she desires to enrich.
This is contrasted with Dickinson earnest plea for the reader to “judge tenderly” of her, which positions the responder to understand the persona’s simple and sincere desire for acceptance both from the responder and the literary canon, which was catalysts as a result of her exclusion and isolation from the social and poetic worlds. Similarly, the text “Brides Of Christ” conveys he sense of rejection and exclusion the protagonist experiences as she attempts to challenge the hegemonic and oppressive structures and doctrines prevalent within the convent.
In this sense, the poem highlights the way in which challenging prevailing standards and structures within a community can act as a barrier to belonging, thus resulting in a state of exclusion and isolation. Similarly, “Brides of Christ” explores how an individual’s lack of acceptance and understanding of a community’s conventions can act as a barrier to belonging, resulting in feelings of rejection ND alienation.
This is illuminated through the continuous conflict between the protagonist’s personality of idealism and questioning of authority against the church’s values of complete obedience and submission, which creates a schism that prevents the persona from attaining a sense of belonging within the institution. Although Diane seeks to ‘defeat her ego and serve God’, her firm belief on her own knowledge and judgment – which forms the cornerstone of her identity – catalysts a desire to challenge and enrich the church’s conventions.
This is highlighted as Diane poses a rhetorical question to Sister Agnes and Mother Ambrose, ‘Why can’t we study those instead of all this medieval hocus-pocus trying to conjure God out of an equation? ” Here, the responder is positioned to perceive the persona’s desire to enrich the convent by challenging the hegemonic confines that pervade it, which is created as a consequence of its difference to the persona’s ideal community.
This is further compounded by the burning of Dean’s spiritual journal, which symbolizes the Church’s rejection of the persona’s thoughts and ideals and ultimately her identity, with its differences to the church’s conventions acting as a barrier to her perpetual belonging to the community. In a similar vein, “This is My Letter to the World” portrays how Dickinson desire to challenge and enrich the poetic community with her “letters” served as a barrier that hindered her from attaining belonging within the social and literary worlds.
Therefore, it is the conflicting ideals and beliefs between an individual and the group they seek to belong to that may either enrich a community, or act as a barrier to belonging. Moreover, “I Had Been Hungry All the Years” depicts the complex oscillation between states of seclusion and unity as a consequence of the paradoxical desire for belonging and isolation.
This is portrayed through Dickinson ‘hunger’ for human companionship and interaction, due to her established connection with nature leaving her in a state of insufficiency and deprivation. However as she gains acceptance within the social world, the intensity of human relationships prove to be overwhelming, with her inability to cope acting as a barrier from perpetual belonging as well s cataloging a newfound desire for isolation and resignation within the natural world.
This is illustrated through the extended metaphor of ‘hunger’, which symbolizes Dickinson intense and fervent desire for inclusion and acceptance, all the while simultaneously appealing to the responder through the common and unifying human sensation of hunger itself. The persona’s hunger comes as a scones ounce of her lacking and insufficient connection with nature, as evident by the scarcity of the ‘crumb’ which evokes a sense of absence and deprivation.
However, as the persona’s ‘noon’ or opportunity arises to ‘draw the table near and ‘touch the curious wine’, she finds its intensity to be overpowering causing her to ‘tremble’ and ‘feel ill and odd’. Here, the composer positions the responder to perceive the persona’s sense of alienation and displacement as she is given a chance at satiating this ‘hunger’, however the persona’s inability to forge human relationships results in her withdrawal from society once more and her desire to be isolated within her sanctuary that is ‘Nature’s dining room’ is renewed and reinforced.
While the protagonist from “Brides of Christy’ oscillates between the states of seclusion and unity through her relationships with the sisters within the convent, it is Dickinson paradoxical desire for belonging and isolation that results in the transitory nature of belonging that she experiences. Similarly, “Brides of Christ’ illustrates the transitory and fleeting nature of belonging as it embodies the consequences of attempting to belong to a collective community while simultaneously seeking individual identity.
This is portrayed wrought the protagonist’s relationship with the sisters within the convent, in which her nurturing friendship with Veronica and other novices within the convent is contrasted with her conflicting and fragmented relationship with the bearers of power within the church. On one hand, the protagonist Diane is able to achieve a sense of connection and unity with the other novices as a result of their shared beliefs and values of devotion to God, resulting in a great sense of fulfillment and empowerment.
On the other hand however, the repressive power structures of the Convent in conjunction with Dean’s recaptured and complicated relationship with Sister Agnes creates a sense of restriction and oppression within the persona, oftentimes acting as a barrier to truly achieving belonging within the church.