In works by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and William Wordsworth, speakers express the important influences of the natural world. In Kolvenbach’s essay, service is seen as its own natural form of beauty for the human mind, in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator loses all sanity because she is displaced from all natural contact, in “The Birthmark,” Alymer rejects nature, wanting to control it, in “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” the narrator only embraces the beauty nature provides for the human spirit. In understanding all of these forms of nature, the most important thing to realize is everything God makes is natural and all of it is beautiful.
Suffering from nervous depression, the narrator’s diagnostic in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a ‘rest cure’ in which she does nothing but give her mind a rest. But she herself does not agree with this, she believes that “congenial work, with excitement and change” (388) would do her good. Despite what she thinks, she is forced to stay at home in the nursery, a room with hideous yellow wallpaper. As a physician, “John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad” (388); but being stuck in an unsightly yellow room, there is not much else she can do but think about her illness. To distract her from this, she starts to write secretively to the reader since she is not allowed to work. Writing allows her to unfold emotions; these emotions are embodied by the many details of the yellow wallpaper surrounding the room. Being cut off from all human contact but her few family members, she begins to obsess over the wallpaper and this actually becomes her form of entertainment. She really starts losing her sanity after seeing a woman trapped behind the wallpaper. Being stuck in a room for weeks is not natural; the human mind wants to wonder and in her case, it has wondered too far. The woman she sees trapped behind the wallpaper is actually herself wanting to escape this unnatural state of being. Her mind is asking for freedom from this yellow square while her body is asking for access to the five senses and that is what causes her to go insane.
In William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” the pure essence of nature provides great happiness to the narrator. The outdoors gives the mind clarity and freedom, exactly what the narrator from “The Yellow Wallpaper” needed. When Wordsworth writes “And then my heart with pleasure fills,/ and dances with the daffodils”(23-24), he expresses the positive influence nature lends. Service is like a form of nature in that it provides a special goodness for the heart. Serving my time to help others is a breath of fresh air, allowing my mind to feel lively and free.
In “The Birthmark,” Charlotte Gilman Perkins portrays human features as natural forms of beauty. Not being able to stop noticing Georgina’s only flaw, Aylmer utterly denies the beauty behind this ‘crimson hand’. Being a scientist, Aylmer is used to changing the physical form of many things, so changing the physical form of his beautifully flawed wife seemed very enticing to him. Aylmer was too selfish to notice the glow of natural beauty his perfect wife has and how this birthmark actually enhances such essence. Even Aylmer’s underworker Aminadab claimed, “If she were my wife, I’d never part with that birthmark”(470) because he understands this mark is a unique feature that makes her who she is. Aylmer should he ashamed of trying to make Georgina flawless because nature is not perfect, nature is pure beauty. His desire for perfection prevents him from seeing the good in Georgina and this kills her because nature cannot be controlled.
These works provide varied perspectives of many forms of nature. The characters in these works were mindful, oblivious, or deprived of the beauty behind nature, which shows how misunderstanding the power that nature holds, can be. After analyzing these works, the most important thing to remember is everything on this Earth is natural and we all need to appreciate that grace.