Professor Juniper Ellis
EN 101 16
18 September 2013
Can Dependence Determine Our Lives?
In the short stories by Nathaniel Hawthrone, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and the poem by William Wordsworth, we see different stages of dependence and self-realization. Specifically, In “The Birthmark,” Georgiana is so deeply in love and dependent on her husband, Alymer, that she risks her life for him. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the speaker is suffering from a nervous condition leading to a loss of touch with the outer world, but soon begins to understand the reality of her life. In “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” the speaker relies on nature and the joy of flowers to comfort him when he is sad and lonely. These short stories and poems revealed that there is no need to rely on people, we are wise enough to make decisions and strong enough to stand up for ourselves.
I attended the Zen meditation even on Monday. I really enjoyed it and found it extremely relaxing. Zen is a school of Mahayan Buddhism. It was first developed in China. Zen actually means absorption or meditative state in Japanese. The meditation was an hour and a half long. Most of the time, we sat in a cross legged position or on our knees. We practiced breathing and releasing all anger and stress from our minds. During meditation we were told to free our minds and only count numbers in our heads as we breathed out. I believe this is a great stress relieving method and I will definitely attend next week. I think it is great that Loyola provides its students as well as staff with this type of relaxation event. As a sophomore, my workload is heavy, as for other Loyola students as well. I find it difficult to juggle between homework, studying, going to the gym, and hanging out with friends. I find myself in need of relaxation because of stress. I like how Zen meditation is offered on Mondays because it helps students relax before the busy week ahead. This event relates to one of the short stories and the poem. It relates to “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” because his form of relaxation is to walk through a field of daffodils and enjoy nature. Nature made him happy and relaxed. The Zen meditation relates to “The Yellow Wallpaper” as well because her form of relaxation was remaining in the room with the yellow wallpaper and write. She enjoyed writing and felt it helped her, despite her husband’s orders to refrain from writing.
In Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark,” the main character, Alymer married a beautiful young woman. Initially, the birthmark on her face didn’t seem to bother him much, but he studied her face every day and it began to affect him. “His love for his young wife might prove the stranger of the two, but it could only be by intertwining itself with his love of science, and unity the strength of the latter of his own”(Hawthorne 467). His love for science was greater than his love for his new wife. Alymer told her she was too perfect to have a birthmark on her face and had to get it removed. Getting it removed may result in her death, but he didn’t seem to worry about the risk. “Let the attempt be made at whatever risk” (Hawthorne 469). Alymer hated female imperfection and was determined to scientifically remove her imperfection. Every other man involved with Georgiana before she met Alymer swooned over her beauty. Georgiana was so dependent on Alymer and his acceptance meant so much to her that she risked her life for him. She trusted her husband, but the process ultimately lead to her death.
In Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the speaker suffers from a nervous condition. “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that”(Gilman 388). It is clear that she allows her husband to have power over her. Her husband, John, didn’t believe she was sick, although he was a doctor. The speaker stayed in a nursery at the top of their house and explained the wallpaper as, “A smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow turning sunlight”(Gilman 389). She loved the room, but hated the wallpaper. She felt that writing would help her with her condition, but her husband thought otherwise. “There comes John, and I must put this away--he hates to have me write a word”(Gilman 389). Is she scared of her husband? She was very submissive towards him. The speaker obeyed him and didn’t want to disappoint him, which revealed her dependence on him. Her husband threatened that if she didn’t snap out of it and start getting well, he would send her away. Throughout the story the speaker untangles the pattern of her life, realizing she needs to be saved. She lost touch with the outer world and by the end of the story; she understands that she has been obeying her husband and lost herself in the process. She goes through the process of self-realization.
In Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” the speaker finds daffodils calming and walks through a field of them. In lines 11-12 the speaker says, “Ten Thousand saw I at glance tossing their heads in sprightly dance.” It seems that the speaker comes from wealth, and even money can’t always give him happiness and provide him with constant comfort. He couldn’t help but be happy. The flowers brought him such joy and comforted him when he was lonely. This poem reveals the unity between man and nature and that dependence isn’t always a bad thing. He relied on nature, for comfort, instead of relying on a person or his wealth, which could’ve had a negative result.
Dependence on others resulted in the loss of oneself in “The Yellow Wall Paper” and a loss of one’s life in “The Birthmark”. We are all strong and intelligent human beings. We can make our own decisions and stand up for what we believe in. There is no need to rely on others to make us happy.