Emily Dickinson, Melinda Machetta who is the composer of the film ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ and Shaun Tan who is the author of ‘The red tree’ had particular rewards as far as belonging was concerned- especially for women. Domestic security and social approbation were possible rewards, but loss of freedom, self esteem and self determination were potential costs. Emily Dickinson shows this in an oblique way through her poetry; Machetta examines the ruthlessness of a young teenage girl who imposed all her traditional values in ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ and Shaun Tan demonstrates the effects of Isolation and Hope through his illustrations in his picture book.
All of these texts deal in some way with the concept of alienation, and they balance the rewards of belonging with what it costs in a personal sense. Emily Dickinson’s way of dealing with social restrictions of the 19th century was to reject her social life by becoming repulsive. Her poem ‘I had been hungry all the years’ uses the extended metaphor of hunger to express her attitudes towards seeking inclusion. She creates a persona who ‘had been hungry all the years’ and whose ‘noon had , come to dine’. The word ‘noon’ implies an opportunity but ‘The plenty hurt me, twas so new’. The desire to belong, or for nourishment, affection or approval, has been invalidated by her independent survival.
The speaker realises that, having learned to survive, she is no longer hungry. The tone is calm in spite of the loss of her wealth and plenty, because once she was at the table, she felt ‘ill and odd’. As berry of a mountain bush transplanted on the road.’ This simile suggests that she has become accustomed to being an outsider and belonging in itself creates a feeling of isolation. She keeps her independence and self determination, at the cost of inclusiveness.
Josephine Alibrandi who is the protagonist of the film ‘looking for Alibrandi’ actively seeks the inclusiveness that Dickinson’s persona feels wary...