Wednesday, September 18, 2013


James Peabody-Harrington
Understanding Literature

        The mind has the ability to play tricks on a person as revealed in short stories by Hawthorn and Gilman and poetry by Wordsworth much like how Bodkin uses sound effects to enhance his story telling. In Hawthorn’s “The Birthmark,” the image of the hand shaped birthmark becomes so mentally upsetting to Alymer and Georgiana that Georgiana ends up dead. The ability for the mind to be manipulated by insanity and neglect is expressed by the speaker in Gilman's “The Yellow Wallpaper.” In Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” the imagination of the speaker's inner eye takes him on a journey all while he is laying on his couch. All these works match how in Bodkin's narration of a story teller's version of The Iliad, emotion is provoked in the listener by his distinct use of language and sound effects. Manipulation of the mind and senses is the key to unlocking emotion that creates positive or negative opinions and views to the person being manipulated.
        In “The Birthmark,” manipulation of the mind drives Georgiana and Alymer nearly crazy due to a small imperfection on an otherwise perfect person. Alymer, a man of science and reasoning, is manipulated by the slightest deformity in his beautiful wife, Georgiana, drives him mad. “The bloody hand…quite destroyed the affect of Georgiana's beauty and rendered her countenance even hideous”(Hawthorn 467). It is completely irrational that such a small aspect of Georgiana should make her hideous. However, Alymer cannot overcome his disgust in the single imperfection of his poor wife. The detail and mystery of the bloody hand is what so fascinates and horrifies Alymer much like how the detail of Bodkin's narration is what makes his narration so amazing. “Save your poor wife from madness”(Hawthorn 469). Georgiana is hurt by Alymer's view of her birthmark and the way Alymer repeatedly winces at or looks away from the birthmark make Georgiana obsess over riding herself of the bloody hand. Alymer and Georgiana turned to science to ride their minds of the manipulation caused by the bloody hand. However, it would be a disaster. “As the last crimson tint of the birthmark – that sole token of human imperfection – faded from her check”(Hawthorn 477). The attempt to use science to change the mark nature kills Georgiana. It is an example of how manipulation tampering with the mind can create extremely negative results. Hawthorn's use of detail describing the way Alymer and Georgiana feel is much like the way Bodkin uses description in his narration. This short story by Hawthorne is an example of mental manipulation that creates a negative outcome.
        In Gilman's “The Yellow Wallpaper,” neglect makes the already unstable speaker insane. The speaker is placed in a “nursery” with peeling yellow wall paper and as the neglect continues the speaker is further and further manipulated by her own mind. She sees a woman trapped within the wall paper trying to escape and eventually the reader discovers that the woman trapped is actually the speaker. “You see he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do?”(Gilman 388). The speaker knows she needs attention but cannot get it from her husband and caretaker, John. The speaker gets more and more unstable as John continues to neglect her and her mind becomes more manipulated. Eventually she strips all the wallpaper and becomes insane when she is released from the wallpaper. “I've got out at last…I've pulled off most of the paper, so now you can't put me back”(Gilman 398). The speaker thinks she is finally released but in reality her mind has been manipulated by the neglect and she is trapped. The manipulation has caused a very negative effect on her mind.
        “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” takes the reader on the journey through the starry sky to a field of daffodils to the waves of the ocean while the speaker merely lies on the couch. The descriptive qualities that the speaker possesses unlock a whole world of imagination. The speaker describes, “A host, of golden daffodils,/Beside the lake, beneath the trees,/Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”(Wordsworth 4-5). The speaker is extremely descriptive and it brings the reader right to the location. The speaker however is not even at the location that he is describing. “They flash upon that inward eye”(Wordsworth 20). The events he is describing are all in his imagination from his “inner eye.” The speaker use of description is much like how Bodkin uses sounds and voices in his narration. Bodkin blows to make the sound of wind and uses a guitar to make dramatic music in his narration of the Iliad. Bodkin's use of these elements ensnares the listener and pulls the listener into the story and it feels like the listener is actually there in the Iliad by manipulating the senses. Manipulation of detail creates emotions in the mind's eye.
        The mind can be manipulative and manipulated as presented in works by Hawthorn, Gilman, Wordsworth, and Bodkin. In “The Birthmark,” Alymer and Georgiana are deeply distressed by the way they view Georgiana's birthmark. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the speaker goes insane because she is stuck in her own head and cannot stop self manipulating herself. In “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” shows how the manipulation of description can unlock the mind to detail and imagination.  

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