Unit One Project

Who and what gives us our identity?

Identity I believe are individual characteristics that you have that make you who you are, what makes you recognizable, and things such as society, environment, your parents, friends, self, media, and interests all make up the characteristics that helps us build and strengthen our identity. Sociologist Erving Goffman Developed The concept of dramaturgy, which is the idea that life is like a never-ending play with us as the actors acting out our lives. Goffman believed that we were thrust into this play called life, and we as people were acting out a role, as a way of interaction we spend our everyday life in the spotlight where we deliver our lines and perform, and then we retreat back into the closed curtains where we can finally be ourselves whatever that is. Things such as social setting, appearance, and the manner in which we interact all create our identity or the way others perceive us, social interaction or social status is something that our society or we as humans focus most importantly on. However, it can be altered because it all depends on an individuals choices and beliefs. In the great Gatsby however Jay Gatsby neglected to realize this and based his whole purpose on getting Daisy on the fact that he needed social status, or money, or to be known as Jay Gatsby the wealthy, mysterious man, that throws so many parties. Identity is all based on how we see ourselves, our perception of our self, and Jay Gatsby is not someone who sees himself in a positive light. His stigma was that he was still stuck in the past, in this dark pathway where he saw himself as a nobody, which is emphasized when he says to nick ” I don’t want you to think that I am just some nobody”. His always believed that he wasn’t good enough based on his socio-economic status. Although he achieved the status that was acceptable for society he still saw himself in a negative outlook. He didn’t quite believe himself to have lived up to his expectations despite the false success that he had acquired. You could say that Gatsby didn’t have any sustaining characteristics within his identity. He was a man who based who he was on what other people thought of him always looking for approval to reassure himself of his validity, that he was worth it. He took on the identity that others or the perception of outsiders, and wove that into his own identity, he relied on what others thought of him to make himself feel important or like he had accomplished something, yet with all this praise and worship he still however was not truly happy, because if anyone can truly decide who you are it is you and Gatsby saw himself as worthless. His perception of himself was one that was negative and destroyed any good morality in Gatsby, leaving a man filled with insecurities.

Back to the question I believe that no matter who or what kind of influences surround us, whether we change our social setting, appearance and manner in which we interact we are the ones who give us our identity, we choose whether To alter it or not, or to see our selves in a positive or negative light, and those are the things that build and affect our identities and the way we see ourselves.

What happens when identities collide?

When two or more identities collide it leaves them with the inability to differentiate Illusion from reality, it changes who they are, and leaves a person feeling conflicted or lost. Jay Gatsby and James Gatz are two different personalities or identities, who had different views. James Gatz view of himself has changed from when he was a young man to the man he is now as Jay Gatsby. Jay Gatsby is an illusion that was once created by a boy named James Gatz who was a poor trying to accomplish the american dream. He made himself from nothing, reinvented who he was. Gatsby has been embarrassed by his origins, after all he was nothing but a “penniless young man without a past”. To further reinstate how he did not belong,  he couldn’t have Daisy because he did not belong in her world, after all he was an outsider and a man with no social status or money. This is all the catastrophe I believe led to James Gatz reinvention of himself to Jay Gatsby, now however much he tried to reinvent himself and become Jay Gatsby there was still another part of James Gatz left, the young man who is filled with hope and a dream, this led to Gatsby not being able to identify who he really was, he was a man with no real identity, everything about Jay Gatsby was a facade. This catastrophe that has befallen him leaves Gatsby unable to differentiate reality from illusion, always stuck in the past. This illusion leads Gatsby to believing that he could change the past which is further emphasized when he exclaims ” Can’t change the past?” “why of course you can. He truly believes that he can truly rewrite the past, and this is what leads to his two identities James Gatz and Jay Gatsby colliding, which has then left Gatsby with this illusion that having possession of daisy to himself would finally complete his self creation. These two conflicting identities has left him with a self-destructive obsession to make him the perfect man,it has led him to go to such extremes as involving himself, in a world of illegal trafficking and crime, it has all lead to an insecure man who can never truly find happiness.

What is the corollary between multiple critical lenses and our self?

The way people act and confront us has a huge effect on our identities. Their judgement, criticism and expectations, affect our perceptions and expectations, they leave us with a hollow identity and a lot of insecurities. In the Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the author shows us how the criticism of others affect the way we view ourselves, how we end up placing other people’s views and expectations on our self. The narrator is constantly facing judgement from her family and the professionals treating her. She begins to have insecurities because of the negative environment that she’s been put in. She has been forbidding to write and feel or do anything creative.She is unable to express herself due to the constant judgement she receives from the people who surrounds her, and she is considered having a “neglect of proper self-control”. This all wears down on her self-esteem, and she has come to see herself as more of a “burden” rather than the true reflection of herself which is someone who is creative, and expressive. The oppression that she faces has led her down a dark hole of depression and a mental illness which is further illusionised by her obsession with the wallpaper. The protagonist becomes further suppressed by the people that are has allowed to place their expectations upon her although she disagrees with their ideas and opinions. She is confined to a nursery that is filled with a “horrid wallpaper”, and she begins to neglect her true beliefs and her true identity. Being restricted from what she truly needs leads her to become frustrated and insane with the want to be herself.

If language shapes identity, how does it do so?

According to Wikipedia and Google, language is the human ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication, it is a method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way. Now, although they maybe right it is not all that it means. Language could also be the way that we act around a person. Language can be an instrument for communication, but it can however also be a barrier. Language can be considered to be a perceived identity or how a person views him/herself. Just like the third question, the criticisms of others affect our self perception, and that is the way language is too. Language can be someone’s criticism and actions, and they both affect the way we see ourselves. The way we treat or speak to someone does affect the way they view themselves. In the Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins the narrator saw herself as someone who was mentally ill, because her husband told her so. The people who surrounded her spoke to her in a negative way and tried to suppress her creativity, which led to her becoming insane. At the time this story was made women were not viewed as people who should be creative she was just supposed to make the kids and take care of them. So they blamed her being ill on her writing, and placed their expectations on her which in the end changed or in other words distorted her identity, leaving a confused woman who didn’t know who she was. In other to find herself, she reaches a place of true clarity, which unfortunately for her was insanity.Just because a person doesn’t use big intelligent words does not mean they are not intelligent, however we treat them like they are unusual or not intelligent enough which greatly affects a person, and we make them feel stupid. Throughout the book John the protagonists husband uses a condescending tone to speak to her, making her feel like she wasn’t living up to his expectations like she wasn’t good enough, so she tries to change who she is in other to fit her husbands beliefs. This all leads to a depression that she cannot escape from. She is then placed in a horrid, atrocious, and depressing room, left and ignored. It is expected that she became insane, because the protagonist does not seem to have experienced care and love always being dismissed. All that suppression and ignorance both from her family and the ‘professionals’ left her filled with frustration and anger that she eventually becomes paranoid, and this obsession to the faces in the wallpaper, which had led to her insanity. The way people speak and treat us has an effect on the outcomes of our identity.


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