Belong Speech – As You Like It and The Kite Runner
John O’Donohue once said ‘the hunger to belong is not merely a desire to be attached to something. It is rather sensing that great transformation and discovery become possible when belonging is sheltered and true. ’ Many individuals desire to belong and so forge connections with others through a variety of different vehicles, be it filial relationships or friendships. Shakespeare’s play As You Like It and Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner explore the developing of one’s sense of self, by establishing meaningful relationships, which are a conduit for one to find a sense of belonging.
Familial relationships contribute towards one’s sense of belonging, as they shape a person’s identity and can result in personal fulfilment and growth. Conversely, disconnection between family relationships can cause confusion and isolation. Shakespeare’s play, As You Like It, analyses the ramifications of dysfunctional family relationships on one’s sense of belonging. Through animalistic imagery and hyperbole, Orlando describes his brother’s treatment of him as differing not from the “stalling of an ox” deeming it an assault on his identity.
His disjointed syntax and truncated sentence structures, “it was upon this fashion bequeathed me by will but poor a thousand crowns”, further convey his confusion and frustration, which stem from severed familial relationships, thus highlighting how severed familial relationships stimulate a lack of belonging. In contrast to the antagonism brewing between the brothers at outset of the novel, they are reunited when Orlando asserts their filial connection, saving Oliver from a lion at his own risk.
Oliver’s use of past and present tense, “was I, but tis not I”, conveys his personal transformation as a result of their connection. The humble tone of this dialogue reinforces the restoration of their relationship due the brother’s reconciliation, resulting in a strong connection and sense of belonging. The restoration of Orlando and Oliver’s relationships broadened my understanding of belonging in that there is often a profound compulsion to belong, even when one may resist it.
The radical transformation in Oliver, exemplifies the notion that family relationships have a profound impact on one’s sense of belonging and identity, by affecting their ability to connect with others. Like in As You Like It, the main character in Hosseini’s novel, The Kite Runner, experiences isolation as a result of the breakdown of family relationships. The silent animosity between father and son, resulting from their strong differences, highlights the tension that exists between them.
Like Orlando and Oliver, constant conflict is intertwined within their relationship, as Baba does not approve of Amir’s interest in reading and writing. Baba’s short sentences and hesitant tone, “(He)… gave a thin smile (of)… feigned interest” illustrates the disconnection between Baba and Amir. This is furthered through Baba’s use of tag questions, “’Well, that’s very good, isn’t it? ‘ he said”, which reinforces his lack of interest in his son. While Amir expresses a profound sense of respect towards his father, he often describes his father as viewing the world as ‘black and white’.
The binary opposition and colour symbolism of black and white symbolically reflects the tension between the two characters, and their inability to relate to one another, resulting in disconnection and a lack of belonging. Amir concludes with ‘you can’t love a person who lives that way without fearing him… even hating him a little’. The use of first person narration, combined with colloquial language evokes feelings of empathy from the reader towards Amir, as they it allows them a deeper understanding of the emotional ramifications of the strained relationship on Amir.
Amir’s emotional tone and body language, combined with the vivid imagery in the simile, “I flinched, like I’d been slapped. My heart sank…” effectively highlights his strong desire to belong with his father. The constant yearning for affection in the book was very insightful as demonstrated to me the extent of the innate human desire to belong. It can thus be concluded that filial relationships are an important factor in determining a person’s sense of belonging as one’s self-esteem and identity can only be cultivated within the close emotional bondage that only family offers.
Relationships between friends are another factor that contributes towards one’s sense of belonging as such relationships aid in fulfilling the innate human desire to connect with others and be a part of something greater than one’s self. In ‘As You Like It’ there is a strong connection between Rosalind and Celia despite the conflicts that exists between their families. Celia’s affectionate tone and repetition, “my sweet Rose, my dear Rose”, coupled with her use of the possessive adjective “my” epitomizes the strong connection between them.
Their immutable connection is affirmed through classical allusions and asyndeton, “We still have slept together,.. learned, played, eaten together… like Juno’s swans coupled and inseparable,” The visual imagery of unity as well as virtuous symbolism is significant and challenges the notion of sexual promiscuity as suggested by the Duke“thus do all traitors. The strength of their connection is also conveyed in Celia’s insistence that her father “pronounce (Rosalind’s) sentence on me… I cannot live out of her company”.
The hyperbole and high modality language highlights Celia’s allegiance and loyalty towards Rosalind. Though exiled form the court, Rosalind’s stable and supportive relationship with Celia enables her to maintain her sense of identity and confidence, regardless of her circumstances and external environment. Because of this, it is clear that strong friendships act as a conduit to finding a strong sense of belonging and confidence, allowing individuals to experience security and fulfilment even within adverse circumstances.
Similarly, in ‘The Kite Runner’, symbols and metaphors are used to visually represent Amir and Hassan’s friendship, and to present the message of true and loyal friendship in an impacting way. Kites are used as a motif to represent the freedom of and strong bond between the two boys, both at the beginning and end of the novel. Under the Taliban regime, kite flying was banned, symbolically representing the lack of freedom in Kabul, which paralleled Amir and Hassan’s disintegrating relationship due to a loss of innocence.
Kites also symbolise the brotherhood and friendship between the two of them, particularly as they would often build kites together ‘sav(ing) (their) weekly allowance in the fall’. This simplifies the innocence and love between the two of them, increasing the impact of their bond. Symbolism allows for a deeper understanding of Amir and Hassan’s friendship, which shows that they belong to each other. The use of kite flying and kite running is also used to show the class distinction between Amir and Hassan and to show how minute and irrelevant hierarchy is compared to the bond of friendship.
Even though Hassan is constantly referred to as the “slave”, Amir holds enough respect to forge and connect with Hassan. The demeaning value of the colloquial term, in turn demonstrates the depth and strength of their friendship. Through the use of metaphors and symbolism, the notion of unbiased friendship, is shown throughout the play which contributes towards the boys sense of belonging. Amir’s exclamation “You’re the brother I never had”, which, due to Hassan’s “slave” status would have been affront to the ropriety of the time, highlights how relationships can break down socially constructed barriers, enabling a strong sense of belonging and fulfilment.
Overall, all both texts highlight the vital role that relationships play in terms of belonging and not belonging. As demonstrated through the relationships of Amir and his father, and Orlando and Oliver, it is clear that dysfunctional familial relationships and broken friendships can cause conflict and isolation. On the other hand, as seen in Celia and Rosalind and Amir and Hassan, a strong connection between individuals can lead to fulfilment, contentment, and a strong sense of belonging.
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