In the works by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charlotte Gilman, and William Wordsworth, there is a character who has an eye for perfection. In Hawthorne's "The Birthmark" the character, Ayimer, is a scientist who goes quite mad. He has an obsession over his wife's birthmark; it is her one blemish and he is convinced it is sinful. His thoughts and fantasies about the birthmark grow and grow until he reaches an unplanned and upsetting solution. Gilman's character John in "The Yellow Wallpaper" knows his wife has a problem and in order to fix it he locks her up in a room. He hides her from the world, keeps her on a schedule, and ultimately causes her craziness at the end of the story. Finally, in Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud", the speaker is much more tame and pleasant than the characters in the former stories. The speaker one day sees many beautiful flowers and scenes, and later when he is at home and is bored or sad, he imagines the lovely scenes and is made happy. He only compliments what he sees, he does not criticize. All three works have an element of perfection; in Hawthorne and Gilman's pieces there is an assumed lack of perfection and in Wordsworth's there is an appreciation. I believe that while doing service blemishes and mistakes should be ignored, in order to to see the good and perfection in the work and the people.
In Hawthorne's "The Birthmark" Ayimer becomes too obsessed with imperfection. He vividly imagines cutting into his wife's cheek and down to her heart in order to remove her one single blemish. His wife is literally perfect, but because he focuses too much on her birthmark he kills the "best earth could offer". When doing service I find it very easy to critique what I'm doing. I find it easy to find holes in my work or in the people I work with or anywhere I look. And I do not always see it as "room to improve", but rather, "I messed up". I feel that it is important to not ignore the imperfections when doing service, but at least working on fixing them, in a healthy way (unlike Ayimer). If I, or anyone for that matter, becomes too focused on imperfections while doing service it ruins the whole service trip or event. It is important to not focus on and critique every little thing while doing service in order to get the most out of the service and really receive the "best earth could offer".
John in "The Yellow Wallpaper" literally locks up his wife because she is not perfect. Consequently, she goes insane. I think that while doing service it is important to not shut off or shut out the world because things are not going ideally. It only causes more problems in the long run, like it did for John. I have seen before incidents when serving where the "less efficient", if you will, of the group is given a menial job. At first, that seems okay and just, but it really is not. It takes away not only from that person's service experience, but also those whom they are serving. Shutting someone else or yourself out while serving truly takes away from everyone and has the possibility to cause major problems by the end of the trip.
Wordsworth's poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" has a very different approach to imperfection, in fact, it does not really have one at all. The speaker mentions nothing about imperfection in the scenes he watches. He only mentions the beautiful flowers, their dancing, and how they make him feel. When he is gloomy, they cheer him up. I think that is how service should be. I know I almost always feel better and happier after I serve; even if things go wrong, I try to find more things that went right. Wordsworth focuses on the positive, and that is what service is all about. Although, it is not good to ignore problems, it is also not good to harp on them. I think of the three works we read, Wordsworth is the most level-headed.
I have learned from all three works that it is important to not concern myself with and obsess over imperfection when doing service. Service is about looking at the positive and making sure that when everything is said and done people were affected positively. Now, I should not live in a fantasy world, I should work to fix problems as they arise, but I should not let the problems take over the service I am doing. I need to be present and positive!