I: THE HISTORY OF THE ORPHAN
Orphan as Icon
The evolution of the Orphan took place within the imaginations of 19th century novelists, 20th century writers and filmmakers and the collective psychoses found in the citizens of our culture at large. In the 19th century, placing the Orphan at the center of the novel symbolized the disparity between the individual and society. The popularity of this narrative construction expanded the metaphor and the Orphan came to represent the ideals and desires of the reader as well as the cultural observations of the author. In this way the Orphan was an icon.
The perpetuation of the Orphan into contemporary culture has been the result of historical repetitions and nostalgia. We find ourselves today clinging to the some of the same contradictions that typified the culture of Victorian England where the Orphan first flourished. As we aspire towards bourgeois conformism we hold fast to delusions of a separatist autonomy masquerading as heroic individualism. The Orphan stands as avatar to this quest; a collective cry for an unhindered individuality, a self of endless potential.