Belonging

Belonging can be a possible path to an individual’s self-actualisation. A sense of identity can be identified by belonging or not belonging to a particular group or place. A person can portray different values of belonging through different situations and settings, like in Shakespeare’s period and the period in ‘Fight Club’. Maslow’s Hierarchy of belonging suggests that belonging is one of the basic needs of human existence. All humans aspire to belong but only a few are able to transcend this basic human need and become self-actualised individuals who rise beyond their social expectations and go against the conventions that define them.
This is portrayed through the characters in ‘As You like It’ that flee to the Forest of Arden but eventually return because that is where they truly belong. As well as ‘Tyler’ in Fight Club. Belonging is a possible path to one’s individual self-actualisation, which can be identified via various mediums as witnessed through David Fincher’s Fight Club and Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Maslow’s hierarchy extrapolates the basic fundamentals of belonging suggesting that belonging is ones fundamental need of human existence.
This notion is illustrated through Tyler Durden in Fight Club as well as characters in “As You Like It” where individuals strive to transcend the basic human necessity of belonging and become self-actualised individuals who rise beyond their social expectations and defy conventions defining them. Fight club demonstrates the aspects of belonging through the relationship between the narrator and his alter ego, Tyler Durden. It is a commentary on our ‘lost’ generation. The relationship shows the changes the narrator undergoes throughout the film.

The Fight Club has an appeal to the lost generation. The narrator with the help of Tyler Durden founded Fight Club as a way of venting aggression physically through fighting other men. It begins with him fighting Tyler (although he is actually fighting himself) but soon other men want to join and have fights of their own. The men of our generation have been raised to avoid fighting, but suddenly they realize along with the main character, “I just don’t want to die without a few scars. Fight Club is an expression of modern dysfunctionality of modern context that have so alienated the individuals into ‘nameless’ and ‘androgynous’ emasculated male figures. General society has adopted this aspect just the same as society has adopted the consumer identity. Tyler Durden says “We are byproducts of the lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me is celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear, Rogain, Viagra, Olestra, Martha Stewart. Tyler describes a life style that is defined by things you don’t need. From here we run into the consumer identity. The consumer identity is the understanding that you are what you buy; you exist to express yourself in material possessions. The goal is to simply look impressive not be impressive, so you can appear to have more money than you really do. In a society that claims the consumer identity, the ultimate sacrifice would be to put your projected reputation on the line. In modern society, this is too risky for many people and that is the main reason why fights are avoided.
However, by embracing the idea that you aren’t what you own, you are only what your hands are capable of, you can free yourself of everything you have tried to appear as with every punch you give or take. The fighting is a metaphor for feeling, not promoting physical combat. The narrator states “fight club isn’t about winning or losing. It was about words, when the fight was over, nothing was solved, but nothing mattered. Afterwards we all felt saved”. The concept of belonging not only deals with acceptance, but also rejection and alienation. This concept can influence our belonging to a place or group.
This is explored through Shakespeare’s play “as you like it”. Throughout the novel, ‘as you like it’ explores the idea of belonging to place. The title itself gives the play to the audience, implying belongs to those viewing it. Throughout the novel, we can clearly detect the characters desires to belong as dictated by the social religious hierarchy of the renaissance drawn out by the church and king in the form of the chain of being. According to Shakespeare text and his context, everyone has their rightful place. If one place is altered or disturbed, there is chaos and anarchy.
Hence, ‘As You like It’ is a reaffirmation of the chain of being where Duke seniors dukedom has been altered by his younger brother Frederick, and this causes the chaos that leads to many of the characters fleeing to the place they belong to into the forest. In As You like It, the traditions of society push characters to play certain roles. Rosalind, the protagonist, has no control over society and gender expectations presented to her. Even though she is the most interesting, intelligent and active character in the novel, she is confined into the expected female role.
This suppresses her personality to be expected to fit into and belong at the court. Her attempts at conformity lead her to initially feel fear at seeking out the Forest of Arden because such a place would be dangerous for a woman. She overcomes this by transcending gender boundaries choosing to disguise herself as a man. While she is a man, she is able to explore her true personality and identity. Is she had not used the role of Ganymede in the forest; she may have been left in a similar role to Celia who is unable to shake her constraints of femininity.
Ultimately, the different values of belonging in different situatuations is seen in both texts through Tyler in Fight Club where he creates a place for people who have the same daily routine to break free from this and to vent their anger by fighting. This fighting is a metaphor for freedom, Freedom from their daily lives and the idea of the consumer identity. This form of freedom and belonging is also seen in ‘As You Like it’ where Rosalind breaks the female stereotype of not being strong enough to protect herself in the forest of Arden, where she runs away to.

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