To belong or not to belong, that is the question. Or is it? The poetry of Emily Dickinson and the play ‘The hairy ape’ by Eugene O’Neill explore how individuals can be alienated by external forces.
The poem ‘The Saddest noise, the sweetest noise’ reflects upon the temporal nature of belonging. The poem reflects how social upheaval has left the persona with a sense of disillusionment and displacement in her world. The 1st stanza introduces spring followed by an immediate shift in the 2nd stanza to where ‘summer hesitates’.
The rapid change reveals the nature of which life can change and accentuates the idea of finiteness. The composer’s use of pathetic fallacy reveals that no season and no connection, no matter how sad or sweet, lasts forever. The dichotomy of the saddest noise, the sweetest noise reveal the nature of change and how this effects an individuals sense of connectedness.
‘It makes us think of all the dead’ is a likely reference to the American Civil war which ‘makes us think of what we had and what we now deplore. The change brought about by war has left the persona suffering from ‘separation’s sorcery’. The painful and inevitable effects of separation are highlighted in the alliteration and metaphor.
The frailty of human relationships is revealed through the persona’s despair that ‘we wish the ear had not a heart so dangerously near.’ the composer highlights the malleability of connections, and the dangers that come with isolation.
The poem highlights how a sense of alienation can be forced upon the individual by forces of change surrounding them.
The play ‘The Hairy Ape’ explores the alienation forced upon the protagonist Yank who struggles to define himself in a class conscious society.
The prominent use of imagery illustrates Yank’s alienation. The ship Yank works on is described as being ‘like the steel framework of a cage.’ The men are ‘imprisoned by white steel’ and they feel ‘caged in’ by the ‘damned...