These three pieces very much concentrated on what perfection is to an individual and the lengths people go to try to reach it whether it is intangible or not. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” is a short story about the fatalness that comes with trying to reach physical beauty that can ultimately only be found in heaven. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman is a short story that depicts the life of a woman who is locked in a room by her husband for minor depression and is left going absolutely insane by the end. William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” is a poem that illustrates a happy oasis that the poet’s mind can escape to. Going to the meditation this week really helped me to escape from reality and leave me with just my thoughts and I will definitely be going back next Monday since it surprisingly helped me to shape my views on the pieces. In these three works, the reader is able to realize the ultimate difference between dangerously striving for unattainable perfection and the positivity that comes out of using a perfect place to imagine when one is down or feeling empty.
“The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne displays the dangers in wanting physical perfection. Alymer, a scientist, goes to the greatest lengths to remove the hand-shaped birthmark on his wife Georgiana’s cheek. Aymer’s perfection potion is so lethal that, although it fades the mark away, it also fades the soul away from Georgiana. By having such a tragic ending, Hawthorne is trying to imply that no one should ever waste his or her life striving for intangible perfection. Since perfection is such an impalpable thought that Alymer strives for and in the end obviously fails miserably to have, Hawthorne is also suggesting that perfection should be left for the higher beings; perfection can only be found in heaven. Going to the meditation strangely helped me clear my mind almost as much as it did clutter my mind with unwanted thoughts when I had no choice but to try and just listen to my breathing. One of the main things that would not stop popping up in my head during the meditation was all the small minute insecurities that I have. Although I do not take myself as an insecure person, there was something about being left in a quiet space with nothing but my own thoughts that just made my mind wander. Obviously, I would never ever go to these extremes for perfection especially when it’s not even me who wants the materialistic and physical beauty. Hawthorne’s short story is a definite eye-opener to those who think that outward appearance is all that matters for he ends up depicting trying to reach for perfection as a foolish and impossible feat.
Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a short story of a woman narrator whose husband, John, put’s her into an insane asylum where she is locked in a room because she has “temporary nervous depression”. Since all the woman can do is stair at the wallpaper and isn’t allowed to work, write, or even do so much as leave the room, she eventually goes crazy and starts to hallucinate that she is a woman that is trapped behind this dreadful and patchy yellow wallpaper. It is almost ironic in a very unfortunate way that in the beginning she believes the asylum to be a total abandoned mansion and that the room she is locked up in somehow was once a nursery. The main question the reader should be thinking, and Gillman wants him or her to be thinking, is how a husband could ever do this to his wife. Gillman is most likely suggesting that this story is an over exaggeration of how all marriages were during that time. A woman’s role in marriage was mostly to be cooped up in the house and to tend to whatever need be. John is the one who works and invites family and friends over to visit her yet she is never the one who is able to make any decisions and is shrugged off even when she begs to have company and to leave the room. Gillman shows the ultimate dangers in living this type of lifestyle since the narrator goes insane. Again there is a different sort of intangible perfection where it is clear that, if a woman was to try to be an ideal wife, Gillman advises the probable downfall and possible madness.
William Wordsworth’s poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” is a beautiful depiction of a sort of happy place where he is able to go to whenever he is feeling empty and longs to be reminded of that beautiful place. Wordsworth implies that this is the sort of perfection one should think about since it isn’t something that a person makes every effort he or she can yet is a positive reflection to go to and think about whenever he or she is feeling down. He says that this place is the perfect scene for any for he cannot help but be happy in an atmosphere like this one. During the meditation when my mind started to drift off into my own happy place, I also drifted into a sort of nature-based scene. Instead of being planted in a meadow with daffodils all around me, I found myself on a secluded beach with white sand and blue waters and the smell of the wind gently caressing my skin and flowing through my hair. This scene and I’m sure Wordsworth’s scene for him was nothing short of perfect. He implies that true happiness is not found where a person is striving for something he or she cannot ever achieve but in the mind when one imagines.