The true sense of belonging can be found in different circumstances for different people. As each individual has their own desires, needs and values, they find their place in the world and a genuine sense of belonging in various avenues. Individuals may achieve the same sense that they truly belong outside relationships, though their connections to other ideas such as place and culture, or within themselves. Shakespeare’s As you like it and Mike Nichols The Birdcage are two texts in which an exploration of belonging is found as belonging can emerge from the connections made with people, places, groups, communities and the larger world. Relationships by nature are the ideas of a connection between two people which can fulfil human needs such as the need for social interaction, and thus can result in the individuals involved achieving a true sense of belonging. When individuals find meaning and tenacity in connections with other people, as they often do in relationships, the need to belong is fulfilled in the greatest sense as the individual’s life is enriched by the positive outcomes for their self-esteem, security and stability. This idea can be seen in the relationship between Adam and Orlando set up by Shakespeare in As You Like It. Adam promises that he will “follow thee to the last gasp with truth and loyalty” when Orlando decides to go to the forest.
Shakespeare effectively emphasizes the lack of fun that exists in this relationship as opposed to other relationships he sets up in the play. Through this, Shakespeare communicates that in relationships which are built on trust, loyalty or other solid connections between people, individuals can find meaning, stability, purpose and thus a true sense that they belong. Relationships to a place is the concept of fitting in and being part of a group, in the Birdcage Armond shows his sense of belonging in his club as when he is walking around he is greeted by everyone and everyone knows who he is, through this relationship, we get the reasons why relationships can lead to a individual feeling that they truly belong. We also see the same with Albert as when he wants down the street they all know who he is; the effect of this is that we see that belonging isn’t just about belonging to one place but to a community. Individuals can find a true sense of belonging outside the confines of a relationship in connections to ideas such as culture, place or even within themselves.
As each individual is different, so are the ways in which they fulfil the fundamental human need to find their identity. Duke Senior in As You Like It, can similarly be described as finding a genuine sense of belonging and contentment with his place and environment, the Forest of Arden. He asks Amiens and the audience “Are not these woods more free from peril than the envious court?” In the use of the words “free from peril,” Shakespeare suggests that in this place Duke Senior feels comfortable, content and untroubled and thus has developed a true sense of belonging with this place. The character of Jacques also finds an inner contentment within his meaningless existence. At the end of the play, Jacques states “I am for other than for dancing measures” and retires to Duke Senior’s “abandoned cave.” He deliberately chooses not to belong in relationships with his companion, instead he finds his own sense of contentment within himself, and thus Shakespeare demonstrates that a true sense of belonging can be found within an identity. Identity in the birdcage is seen as we see Val wanted his dad Armond to change for when they meet Vals girlfriend’s parents, Armond responds with “ Yes, I wear foundation.
Yes, I live with a man. Yes, I’m a middle- aged fag. But I know who I am, Val. It took me twenty years to get here, and I’m not gonna let some idiot senator destroy that. Fuck the senator, I don’t give a damn what he thinks. The effect of this is that individuals find the truest sense that they belong and don’t find the need to change for anyone no matter the situation. It shows that once a true belonging is found there is no need to leave that sense. One of the fundamental concepts of belonging is that to another person through the bond of love or friendship. It is a relationship that emerges from the seed of acceptance, understanding and respect, and leads to the most fulfilling opportunity for belonging. In Shakespeare’s As You Like It, love is the key aspect of belonging, mainly through the characters of Rosalind and Orlando. Through Shakespeare’s use of dialogue and imagery, we are able to witness the level of harmony and acceptance between the lovers. Rosalind’s words to Celia “my affection has an unknown bottom, like the Bay of Portugal” shows her extensive crush with Orlando and how she believes she truly belongs with him.
Orlando also shows crush signs of passion towards Rosalind. We see in Act 3, Scene 2 where he hangs his love poems to Rosalind on trees and praises her a lot. The imagery within these scenes demonstrate to what extent a man is willing to go to for the love of another person to obtain the succeeding level of emotional connection and belonging. Orlando’s words “the fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she” conveys his love and sense of compassion towards Rosalind and how he wishes to belong by her side. The concept of belonging often means that individuals find belonging in different places to other individuals. Whilst many individuals can attain a true sense of belonging in relationships, due to the nature of these connections and the positive outcomes they have for individuals, there are some relationships in which individuals experience the opposite from truly belonging. Analysis of a range of texts including As You Like It and The Birdcage inquire into these ideas and foster an appreciation for the need to consider different circumstances and individuals before making assumptions about the multifaceted concept of belonging.