'Isolation Of Identity' Through The Eyes Of George Orwell And T.S. Eliot

'Isolation Of Identity' Through The Eyes Of George Orwell And T.S. Eliot

The theme of isolation of identity has a specific perspective on the ego, but Orwell and Elliot dive deeper.

150
views

The theme of Isolation of identity comes with the perspective on the subjective ego that differs between the works involved within the modernist, imperialist, and Anglican time period in British Literature. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot, is a modernist poem about the self-awareness and insecurity of everyday life. Furthermore, the fact that the poem was created within the modernism era allows an enhancement to the theme based on the concept of selflessness.

Within the poem, T.S. Eliot uses dimmed diction such as "smoke," "fog," "city," "drown" to create a stronger image around the atmosphere of the poem. Moreover, T.S. Eliot uses this poem as a way to showcase the concept of "ego-death," allowing himself to create a complete loss of subjective self-identity and invest into the world he lives around. Eliot talks of measuring life out with coffee spoons, using such an ordinary item to be the reflection of measuring out his life allows the audience to perceive Eliot's thoughts on life as artificial. In addition, the whole poems general repetition and dimmed tone in describing a gloomy city, all add to the concept of subjective identity. He is allowing the poem to guide the audience into a raw reality of the poets perspective, talking about how ordinary items guide their life and how people come and go looking for high expectations only to be faced with a disappointment because of the obstruction of reality, which is symbolized when Eliot references Michelangelo.

The modernism era takes the theme of isolation of identity in a negative perspective, as there is a recurring motif of reality being the bitter end, accompanied by the depressed of the normalities in life. This can be contrasted with another poem by T.S. Eliot titled, "Ash Wednesday" which was published after "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." While Prufrock takes a perspective of the isolation of identity through psychic death subjecting himself with his atmosphere around him rather than his personality and ego, Ash Wednesday gives the perspective of isolation of identity in a positive manner by giving one's self to Anglicanism. Although this was written by a modernist poet and is within a smaller spread of time it grants the audience with the influence of the Anglican time period. Within the poem, Eliot talks of converting to Anglicanism moving from spiritual despair to salvation, rejecting the beauty of the world and accepting change within the human condition.

This shows the developments of the theme, as isolation is represented by giving one's self to the hands of spirituality and religion. Ash Wednesday reveals the symbolism of religion and its strength in identifying as a pawn for spirituality. Furthermore, in traditional practice religion is based off beliefs, prayer and a higher power to help guide someone's morality and purity. The representation in this poem enhances the theme by stemming away from having a loss of ego, into embracing their ego by giving it to the hands of spirituality as a guide for morality. This can be seen as a twist within British Literature when it comes to being isolated in identity, as the modernist era eludes to feelings of isolation and depression in the conformity of reality while the Anglican era allows embracement of isolation through the eyes of religion and spirituality.

Another work that can be compared is George Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" which embarks behind the era of Imperialism and provides a different perspective on the isolation of identity. Furthermore, George Orwell comes from a shorter spread of time that is near T.S. Eliot but captures the essence of British Colonialism exceptionally by using the isolation of his intentions as a tool for guilt. This work can be seen as a protest against Imperialism, as it creates an ironic paradox of colonialism by allowing the colonial propriety to coerce to colonizer to act barbarously. This helps to enhance the theme by using the narrator to perform a role to please those whom he's oppressed.

This irony shows that the narrator loses a sense of self-isolating his mind when coming in confrontation with the elephant as the overwhelming feeling of an audience looking upon his decision drowns his will power and motives. This ponders the question of the narrator deciding to kill the elephant in defense of the people, or in fear of giving the impression of being a coward and a fool which shows his the isolation of himself as he is only thinking of the reaction of others rather than the humanity behind murdering an animal. In contrast to Prufrock, Eliot describes a dark world around him that he is fully aware of that makes him question his identity on if it even matters as he's portrayed as a pawn within a world filled with expectation.

On the other hand, Orwell uses the theme of the isolation of identity to help create a statement around imperialism and how the example of shooting an elephant shows the fear of losing power to humiliation which results in the narrator to lose his original identity during the shooting of the elephant to please the public that he belittled to assert his imperialistic dominance. The irony of fearing to be a coward within the hands of absolute power only shows the cowardliness of the oppressor which helps build the statement against imperialism. Orwell uses the theme as a statement against imperialism, like a political movement. Throughout the world of modernism which is the main lens of T.S. Eliot and George Orwell comes many different perspectives once they put their empathy within other time periods to help showcase the development of the theme of isolation of identity within British Literature.

As the loss of one's self-identity and reflection to circumstance of a situation has been a recurring motif within the world of literature, as the modernist era takes it to describe a sense of ego death, the Anglican era describes it as a way to find spirituality and guidance and lastly the imperialist era describes it as a form of protest against the real cowardliness of those oppressing.

In conclusion, the development of the theme of isolation of identity has changed over the course of many time periods in British Literature as its evolution ranges from being connected to the negative aspects of humanity to try to find the purest forms of humanity.

Popular Right Now

Just Because I'm From Hawaii, Does Not Mean I'm Hawaiian

My residency is not my race.
6788
views

Let me start off with a few things about myself. I am a first generation American who is primarily Filipino, Spanish and Hungarian. With that said, I am a woman of color, who frankly, looks all white. I was born and raised on the North Shore of O'ahu, but currently live in the mainland.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about Hawai'i, because I'm sure you don't know much about it since it's only given like, a paragraph of recognition in our history books. The Ancient Hawaiians traveled by canoe for thousands of miles using only the stars to navigate and found themselves in the Hawaiian Islands. They settled and their culture spread throughout the mountains and shores.
In 1778, Captain Cook "discovered" the islands, despite the thriving population residing there (he can be compared to Christopher Columbus). In the 1830s, the Sugar Industry was introduced, bringing a diverse range of immigrants from China, the Philippines, Japan and many other countries to work on the plantations, creating the diverse and ethnic population that makes up the islands today. In the 1890s, Queen Lili'uokalani (lily-oo-oh-kah-lah-nee) was imprisoned in an upstairs bedroom of her palace and soon after, the monarchy was overthrown. Hawai'i became a state in the 1950s.

With all of that said, we can now discuss an issue that I have realized needs to be addressed.

Since I moved to the mainland, I have had many encounters where people assure me that I am Hawaiian, despite my rebuttals that I am definitely not. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Them: "So you're from Hawaii, are you Native Hawaiian?"

Me: "Oh no, I'm Filipino, Hungarian and Spanish."

Them: "No, I mean, were you born and raised there?"

Me: "Yeah, but I'm not Hawaiian."

Them: "Yeah you are. It's the same thing."

No, it is most definitely not the same thing. If you were in Japan and saw a white person or any person not of Japanese descent, would you ask if they were Japanese simply because they lived there?
No, you wouldn't because you should know that residency does not equate descent. Sure, you might be curious and ask, but if they told you they weren't Japanese, you wouldn't try to convince them that they are. As I mentioned, Hawaii's population is made up of a ton of immigrants, and just because someone's family may have been there for generations, they are still not Hawaiian unless they actually have Hawaiian blood.

Not only do people assume that I am Hawaiian simply because I am from there, but they will continuously say that I look Hawaiian even if they have no idea what someone of Hawaiian descent looks like. Hawaiians are people of color, as are many of those who reside in the islands. However, as I previously mentioned, I do not look like a person of color even though I am, so why would you associate me, a seemingly full white person, to be Hawaiian? It makes no sense.

There are many things wrong with choosing to misidentify an individual or a group of people.
One, is that by you convincing yourself that I am something that I am not, you are diminishing who I am, and how I identify myself.
Second, you are creating an illusion based upon your own desires of who Hawaiians as a people are.
Third, by using me specifically, you are whitewashing the image of an entire race. I could go on, but there is not enough time in the world to name them all.




Their culture has been reduced to leis, aloha shirts, surfing, and tiki torches. Aloha has become a household word used by people who have no understanding of what Aloha truly means. Girls go as hula dancers in an effort to show skin on Halloween without any second thought. Please stop. We cannot continue to misidentify, appropriate and basically erase Hawaiian culture, just as has been done to the Native Americans.

Hawaiians have already been stripped of their land. I will not allow them to be stripped of their identity as well.

Cover Image Credit: TourMaui

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Fan Fiction Teaches Your Kids About Sex, And That's A Good Thing

Finding a healthy way to express your sexuality is vital for getting through your teen years

119
views

I read my first fanfiction when I was about 12. By my current (and most avid fanfiction reader's standards), it was an amateur fic that was cliche and the storyline was mostly author self-serving. However, my 12-year-old self found happiness in the story, surprised something like it even existed.

As I grew older and entered fandom culture and became more familiar with the Internet, I began to read more fan fiction in various fandoms and even began to write fan fiction. Currently, I have probably read and written millions of words worth of fan fiction.

When I first started out, I avoided fanfictions that contained overt sex or smut. In my early and mid-teenage years, I was uncomfortable reading about sex. However, I naturally began gravitating towards more mature storylines and themes, which in turn, led later to sex.

Now, nearly everything I read contains at least some explicit sexual content. Sometimes it's just glossed over, or simply sexually explicit in dialogue or language. Other times, it's porn in written form. However, I am an adult and it is not necessarily considered inappropriate to read and enjoy these sorts of things (probably taboo and trashy), but among the fan fiction community, it is well known that it isn't just adults reading explicit sexual content.

Despite most fan fiction hosting sites filtering explicit content differently, it is not hard to come by if you know how to search for it. Some parents may find it alarming that their children are accessing such sexually explicit content as a teenager, but after having spent time extensively within the fan fiction community, I think it is, for the most part, healthy and normal.

In the early days of fanfiction, sexual content wasn't really monitored or filtered in any way. As it slowly became an issue (people who chose not to read such content being exposed to it, unhappy parents, etc.), sites like Fanfiction.net, Archive of Our Own, and Wattpad all have mature filters or ratings that filter out mature-rated or marked books from a typical search unless specifically searched for.

This works for the most part, however, not every author marks their works as mature (whether due to ignorance or consciously to reach a larger audience). If found out, this usually ends up with a warning and/or the book being taken down (and usually re-uploaded with the proper identification).

While smut and sexual content has served as entertainment and fantasy fodder, the smut and sexual content in fanfiction has taken on another, unexpected duty — sex education.

It's not a secret that sex education in the US and around the world is lacking, wrong, or biased, so, oddly, fanfiction authors took it upon themselves to educate the younger readers reading their work. In my time, I've read or written explanations/ analogies of consent, condom use, birth control, sexual assault/ harassment, unhealthy relationships, pregnancy, signs/ reds flags of abuse, LGBTQ relationships/ sex, STIs, STI testing, and more. The list could go on and on.

While obviously unhealthy elements of relationships and sex are sometimes romanticized or glorified, oftentimes readers go into a fic knowing this and either criticize it or enjoy it understanding the cognitive dissonance (this cognitive dissonance could be a whole article topic in itself).

I have learned more from fanfiction and finding my own reliable sex education sources (such as Sexplanations) than I did in my high school sex ed class. Fanfiction taught me about kinks and which ones applied to myself. It gave me the opportunity to figure out my own sexual preferences and biases without actually having sex. It helped me make informed and healthy decisions regarding relationships and sex. It helped me decide what was best for myself and my body, rather than having no idea about my own sexuality, preferences, or body.

Fanfiction gave me permission and freedom to explore facets of myself that I was hesitant or scared to without judgment or the opportunity to make a mistake that could impact the rest of my life. It allowed me to explore my sexuality in a healthy way that allowed me to mature and figure out things about myself that many people don't know even after they have had sex!

Exploration, discovery, and doing both of those things in a healthy way is vital for personal and sexual growth. Reading fanfiction and other sexually explicit material isn't always just a way to get off in your teenage years, it can be a healthy way to express and discover your sexuality.

Before ending this article, I would like to clarify that I'm not trying to advocate for abstinence with this article. Everyone has the right to make that choice for themselves and reading and learning from fanfiction and other sexually explicit material can supplement whatever decision is made. I only want to advocate for fanfiction and how it can contribute to a healthy sexual maturing and growth.

Related Content

Facebook Comments