January 30, 2013
Event Analysis 2
The stories, “The Birthmark ” by Nathanial Hawthorne, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gilman and the poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth, explore the topic of the mind and its ability to change depending on how it is treated in different relationships. Hawthorne’s, “The Birthmark” and Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” examine how a mind controlled by obsession and small imperfections can lead to mental destruction and self-doubt. However, Wordsworth’s, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” presents a more positive image of the mind and seeks to illustrate how a person can have a positive relationship with nature and can be in a sense free from confinement and worry and express themselves verbally and physically to others. Not only in these three examples but also in today’s society having a free state of mind is vital for a happy life. If a person’s mind is confined and downgraded or controlled by outside unhealthy factors than a person will being to slowly loose control of their ability to function and will not be able to effectively show their emotions to others.
When a person becomes obsessed with small imperfections and thinks about every thought in relation to their loved ones happiness, they can become mentally unstable. In both Hawthorne’s, “The Birthmark” and Gilman’s, “The Yellow Wallpaper” both women in the poem become mentally obsessed with changing themselves to satisfy their husband’s desires. In the “Birthmark,” Georgiana becomes so enthralled by his husband’s scientific accomplishments and desire to make her perfect that she gives into his desire and lets her try to heal her, “defect”(467) and “imperfection”(467). Interestingly, even though Aylmer believes that they share “united lives,”(468) he can still not see Georgiana as perfect. Georgiana slowly moves through a progression of emotional down spirals. Aylmer’s sole motive in the poem is to make his wife perfect through the removing of her birthmark, which for him represents an, “object of horror and disgust”(469) and a barrier between his wife and his fascination with science. The title is an interesting connection to how Aylmer sees their relationship. A birthmark is something usually permanent and often not meant to be removed. Despite Georgiana’s initial pleas to her husband that he look past her one imperfection and remember how their relationship once was, he is unable to acknowledge her desires and the permanence of their relationship. Although in the end Aylmer gets what he wants, removing the birthmark from Georgiana’s face, Georgiana dies because of mental exhaustion.
Similarly in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator’s mind breaks down because of mental exhaustion due to her husband’s desires to keep her locked up. The narrator suffers from a form of depression and is constantly unhappy, yet the only way she is able to express herself is through writing. She is unable to verbally express her thoughts and when she does her husband’s reaction are, “stern”(394) and “reproachful”(394). She confesses that, “John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him”(389). The narrator is not only physically confined by the walls of the rooms she is in but is also mentally confined by her condition and her husband’s constant actions to keep her in her room. Therefore you can see that this confinement causes her to experience insanity. She becomes so preoccupied with her husband’s ability to be free outside the walls of her small room, that she looses sight of who she really is. The “horrid paper”(390) that the narrator refers to throughout the story seems to represent how the narrator sees herself. Everyday she sees the unappealing wallpaper and sees an image of herself through the wallpaper. This shows how initially the narrator sees herself as the wallpaper but in the end destroys the wallpaper and makes the wall completely white, something pure. In a way she is clearing herself of her own imperfections and renewing her mind.
William Wordsworth’s, “I Wandered as a Lonely Cloud” and my first experience of meditation both represent ways in which the mind can be renewed. Wordsworth illustrates how nature has a positive effect on the narrators mind. Through the use of imagery such as, “a host of golden daffodils”(4), Wordsworth evokes the feeling of freewill and a free mind. He also personifies nature as if they were humans, “fluttering and dancing in the breeze”(6). A free mind allows for more happiness. In contrast to the confinement that both women experienced in the short stories, the narrator in the poem is able to flourish through nature. Each narrator in the three pieces experience a feeling of relief when they are by themselves. Similarly during meditation the mind becomes focused and mind and body become connected together. The experience of meditation was rejuvenating, powerful and reawakened my mind just like each narrator was reawakened in some way.