17 September 2013
A Beautiful Mess
In the short stories, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Birthmark,” and also in the poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” it is evident that people take for granted the current beauties they are surrounded by daily. Nathaniel Hawthorne describes in “The Birthmark” a husband who takes for granted his wife’s natural beauty in the search for perfection. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the author Charlotte Gilman depicts a troubled wife who is driven insane by limitations enforced on her by her husband. Lastly, William Wordsworth illustrates nature’s pure beauty in “I Wander Lonely as a Cloud,” but fails to appreciate it until he is no longer outside. The desire to change things that are already “perfect”, and therefore unappreciated natural beauty, leads to its ultimate destruction.
In “The Birthmark,” Hawthorne focuses on a husband who is so obsessed with making his wife perfect, that he ultimately loses her all together. Aylmer is a devoted scientist and uses his wife, Georgiana, as a science experiment to make the birthmark on her cheek disappear. Aylmer confesses, “…dearest Georgiana, you came so nearly perfect…that this slightest possible defect…as being the visible mark of earthly imperfection” (Rubenstein 467). Aylmer cannot look past this small mark upon her face. He is unable to embrace it is a gift, like many people tell Georgiana it is. His selfish, stereotypical antics and pursuit of “ultimate perfection,” results in the death of his wife. Aylmer’s lack of acceptance has left him alone and without the woman he loves.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman exemplifies a husband unable to see his wife’s beauty within, which results in the loss of her true self. The narrator’s husband, John, is a physician and lets his wife’s diagnoses of nervous depression control their lives. He does not allow her to leave the house, take part in physical activity, or simply express her feelings in her diary. Every day she is confined to a small room with putrid yellow walls. The narrator becomes so engulfed and making her husband happy with her that she becomes increasingly insane throughout the story. As she tries to catch the woman she believes is living in the yellow walls she admits, “…and I don’t want anyone to come in until John comes home. I want to astonish him” (Rubenstein 397). John belittles her potential, and refuses to acknowledge her inner feelings. He is living in denial, and his lack of acceptance forces her to relentlessly strive for it. She goes insane trying to impress him, and loses all sense of reality. John’s unwillingness to look past his wife’s disease and understand her emotions, causes him to John lose her “inner beauty” and “being”.
The poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” beautifully depicts nature and especially emphasizes the natural motions of daffodils. The speaker does not truly appreciate the beauty until he is home, sitting on his couch. Only then does he express, “my heart with please fills, and dances with daffodils” (Myer 635). It is important to live in the moment, before what is truly important and meaningful becomes just a memory in the past.
This is similar to the performance given by Odds Bodkin, given on September 16th. He played the guitar while narrating a story of Homer from ancient Greece. He delivered his performance with passion, as he forced the audience to create images in their minds. The combination of his music, humor, and invigorating dialect was pure bliss. I am so happy I was able to realize that in the moment, and embrace it rather than not accepting of its abnormality, and missing out.
So often people search for flaws in others and their surroundings. They strive for perfection and instant satisfaction. It is only when they take the time to stop, and embrace what is right in front of them that they will be able to reach pure happiness. Otherwise, the endless battle for ultimate perfection leads to dissatisfaction and often the loss of something they once loved.
Myer, Michael. Poetry. 7th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013. Print.
Rubenstein, Roberta, and Charles R. Larson. Worlds of Fiction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: PrenticeHall, 2002. Print.