Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Idea of Human Perfection

            In “The Birthmark”, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, and “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, are all linked by the commonality of human perfection and self-appreciation. Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” focuses on physical human perfection. “The Yellow Wallpaper”, focuses on internal and external perfection. “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” focuses on internal perfection. In the Zen Meditation orientation earlier this week we were told to empty our minds. The emptying of our mind will allow us to make a difference in our own lives and in others lives as well. All of the readings and Zen Meditation focuses on perfection of the body and the mind as a whole.
            Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” is a short story about a husband and wife. The husband, Aylmer, believes that his wife “ ‘came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature that this slightest possible defect, which we hesitate whether to term a defect or a beauty, shocks me, as being the visible mark of earthly imperfection,’” (Worlds of Fiction 467). Upon his wife, Georgiana’s cheek there is a blemish of a crimson color. Aylmer believes that if she were to have the blemish removed that she would be the most perfect thing in the world. As time went on “he found this one defect grow more and more intolerable with every moment of their united lives,” and needed it to be gone. His view on perfection is superficial and based on physical beauty. If one is not completely and utterly physically perfect than one is not perfect.
            Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” shifts our focus to the whole person and perfection. The perfection of the whole person is internal and external. In this short story the husband of the main character, John, is a physician who locks his wife away in a summer home. His intention when locking her away was to give her “perfect rest and all the air [she] could get,”(Worlds of Fiction 389).  Although he told her that nothing was wrong with her, she could not help but wonder as to why she was locked away. John was trying to keep her physically perfect and her health perfect. However while in solitude, the narrator continuously tries to write and better herself. Writing is an outlet for her, yet her condition makes her tired whenever she attempts to write. This shows that allow one may be weak; perseverance is key. If at first you do not succeed, try and try again. The narrator shows us this by her perseverance to continue writing and look for answers that her husband is hiding from her. She is looking to make herself better and “perfect.”
            Finally in Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” he describes the perfection of nature. Nature in its purest form is the most perfect. As he walks “Beside the lake, beneath the trees… Fluttering and dancing in the breeze,” he notices the pure beauty and perfection of not only the flowers and the lake but of himself (Wordsworth 5-6). The speaker says, “A poet could not but be gay… In such a jocund company;” the perfection of nature makes him feel as if he, in that instant, is also perfect. The speaker allows us the readers to see that the perfection of nature is an important aspect in our lives to make us feel perfection in our lives.
            All of the readings relates to Zen Meditation Monday night. In meditation we were instructed to allow all thoughts to escape our minds. In turn with the continued practice of Zen Meditation we should start to become more aware of our surroundings and of ourselves. This relates to perfection because in order to be perfect we need to be aware. Our tentativeness as a society relates directly to our success. The more attentive we are the more successful we become over time. Although perfection has different meanings to different people, societies perspective of perfection overrules most and the way in which most ascribe to be “perfect.”

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