The Importance of Reflection
Wordsworth, Hawthorne, Gilman, and Zen meditation all make an attempt to combat human suffering. In “The Birthmark,” Hawthorne tells the story of a scientist who cannot overcome his desire to perfect his wife, which leads to her death. In the “Yellow Wallpaper,” a troubled woman is forced into relaxation therapy by her husband, which has negative consequences for them both. In “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” Wordsworth shines light on how, when someone is engrossed in beauty it rarely alters him or her. Zen meditation, a class whose goal is to allow a person time to both free their mind from thought and come to self-realizations about the nature of man and reality. These three writings and my meditation session are independent of each other, however they are interconnected because they convey the subtle truth that human nature is flawed, and that we can be happy if we realize how to correct our problems.
Wordsworth and Hawthorne both discuss how beauty is under appreciated and wasted on us. In “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” the speaker states, “I gazed-and gazed-but little though What wealth the show to me had brought” (Meyer 635). Wordsworth wants his readers to realize that when they lay their eyes upon beauty, they need to think about it and relate to their own life or else the beauty is wasted. This relates to “The Birthmark” because Aylmer doesn’t appreciate his wife’s beauty; he doesn’t stop and think how much worse his situation could be. However, this doesn’t deter Aylmer from convincing his wife, to get her birthmark removed. This ultimately leads to her death and causes him to suffer.
Gilman in “Yellow Wallpaper” also comments on man’s need for perfection and lack of thought when John forces his wife into relaxation therapy. Eventually the narrator states, “ I really was not gaining here, and that I wished he would take me away’’ (Rubenstein 393). John doesn’t acquiesce, and the narrator insanity worsens. In the end, John faints from the horror of the narrator as she continues to encircle the room where she was kept hostage. This portrays how John didn’t acknowledge the value of his wife sanity because he was blinded by his desire to change her in the first place.
The other day I attended a Zen meditation, in the meditation we were told how to sit, how to align are back, and even how to align our mind. The leader of the mediation told us that humans have a natural inclination to slouch. Our bad posture leads to many health problems, and the first goal of the mediation was to alter our posture. We straightened our backs till we could relax our muscles with our back at a 90-degree angle to the ground. After we were told how to sit, we were told to clear our minds. It was a challenging task that I failed at, but the time in quite allowed me to think and reflect on why I was there.
All three stories are very different, however after a close analysis there appear to be many similarities and connections. Through my examination, and a further reflection my experience with Zen meditation I have come to the conclusion that people tend to suffer. We slouch, not just with our backs, but also with our morals and our principles. Sometimes we take we have for granted or don’t pay attention to what really matters. All three stories and mediation force us to reflect so we can fix our posture.
Meyer, Michael. Poetry: An Introduction. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2013. Print.
Rubenstein, Roberta, and Charles R. Larson. Worlds of Fiction. New York: Macmillan, 1993. Print.