True belonging can only be attained after one has conquered a strong sense of identity and is able to reach self actualization, allowing oneself to embrace who they are. The texts, As You Like It by Shakespeare and Angela’s Ashes directed by Alan Parker communicate the notion of identity and its inextricable connection to belonging. Belonging to a family is an integral part of the human experience, as family relationships form a person’s sense of identity. The environment in which Frankie McCourt was raised had a fundamental impact upon his outlook on life, and his overall sense of identity. The McCourt’s are a dysfunctional family, as Mr.
McCourt’s alcoholism and unemployment present a barrier to positive loving relationships between family members. Constant high angle shots reinforce Frankie’s small size and powerless position as a child witnessing his own family collapse around him which results in Frankie questioning his own values and forces him to become independent form a young age. Throughout his childhood Frankie experiences constant disappointments and humiliations created by an alcoholic and irresponsible father and a weak victimized mother, as a result Frankie soon realizes that it is up to him to ensure his own survival.
Belonging to a dysfunctional family shapes Frankie’s identity as a survivor, a resourceful child able to adapt to a hostile environment. Equally, in As You Like It, Shakespeare challenges the traditional expectations of family through the portrayal of the dysfunctional relationship between the De Boys brothers Oliver and Orlando. Orlando feels a sense of worthlessness as he states “I have nothing. Only in the world I fill up a place which may be better supplied when I have made it empty”.
Shakespeare’s use of prose language effectively demonstrates Orlando’s feelings of isolation as he expresses his troubled identity spawned from a lack of familial belonging. This concept of estrangement can be contrasted to the end of the play as Orlando experiences falling in love with Rosalind and finally develops his sense of identity and purpose. To accomplish true belonging, sometimes it is necessary for individuals to break away from their familial roots. The circumstances of the McCourt family present Frankie with a barrier he must overcome in order to achieve a sense of belonging and fulfill his identity.
Alan Parker entwines the symbol of rain and the use of music as a non diagetic sound, to communicate the pathos of his childhood. The use of panning through the Irish countryside whilst raining communicates his sense of isolation. We can interpret the constant rains of Limerick as a metaphor for the drowning ache deep within Frankie to belong and fulfill his identity. Throughout the movie Frankie demonstrates an indomitable will to live in spite of his circumstances. In contrast to As You Like It, the McCourt family do not end up together in harmony with the restoration of values, but separated.