Lindsey Dzielak September 16, 2013
In the short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and the poem by William Wordsworth we see the importance of imperfections, independence, and happiness. Specifically in “The Birthmark”, Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays the birthmark as the only imperfection of the women, and in that sense, the only thing that allows her to be able to exist in this imperfect world. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, Charlotte Perkins Gilman portrays women’s drive for independence of the 19th century in. In “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, Williams Wordsworth personifies nature as childhood, and the joys it brings through memories. All of these works are representations of women and suggest that the most important qualities are pure beauty, independence, and genuine happiness.
“The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, portrays a husband who wants to remove his wife’s birthmark because it is the only part of her that is imperfect. The main message relayed in this work is that the birthmark represents her pure or natural beauty and because of this also mortality. It represents mortality because it is the only imperfection she has, and when removed, she becomes perfect and can no longer exist. This proves people are made with imperfections for a reason. In high school, I worked with a group of students for three semesters. These students were ones who felt uncomfortable in school and had a difficult time communicating. One girl in this class actually went to extreme lengths to remove a mole off her forehead, by herself, because she was made fun of for it. I am unsure of all the details, but when she came to school one day it was gone and in its place was a hole. Just like the wife in “The Birthmark” they both had a composition of “snow stained with crimson” (Rubenstein, and Larson 467). Both girl and women were natural and beautiful with the birthmark, and without it, it almost ruined them. The girl in my High School lost the strong confidence she once carried herself with. Because of this scar, she had to wear a bandana everyday. Your imperfections are not to be corrected; they make you who you are.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s, “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written in the 19th century, a time when women were trying to get away from the Cult of Domesticity. The importance of this work is that the woman is trying to free herself from rules and from the norm. She is trying to create economic independence, and that is something that by removing the confinements placed on you by others, you gain your independence. Instead of doing what others persuade or tell you to do, do what you want. Being able to stand up to others is a theme in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, and it is a theme that is very difficult to grasp in high school. The girl in my school was unable to stand up and be confident with her birthmark. She was now uncomfortable with herself, just like the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” was uncomfortable being confined and how the wife in “The Birthmark” was uncomfortable with her imperfection because of her husband.
“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth is the last connection to both of these previous papers as well as to my personal experience. This poem expresses the importance of childhood memories, and the commonality between nature and children. A child who finds happiness in nature finds happiness when they are adults. They achieve “bliss of solitude” (Meyers 635 Line, 22). In my experience, the teenager is “lonely as a cloud” (Meyers 635 Line, 1). She is alone in her imperfection because she does not own it. The moment she accepts natural imperfections she will find bliss for the rest of her life, even when in “vacant or in pensive mood” (Meyers 635 Line, 20). Standing up for your imperfections and independence creates pure bliss.
These three works of literature illustrate not just women’s lives, but also everyone. Both women and men can be vulnerable to their imperfections, and they can also feel constrained. I think the two best pieces of knowledge to gain from these works is to be independent and happy with whom you are, including your imperfections. The moment you stand up for what you want, you become independent, strong, and happy.
Rubenstein, Roberta, and Charles Larson. Worlds of Fiction. 1st ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1993. 466-478. Print.
Rubenstein, Roberta, and Charles Larson. Worlds of Fiction. 1st ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1993. 387-399. Print.
Meyer, Michael. Poetry: an introduction. 7th ed. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013. 635. Print.