Service and Readings Analysis
The Birthmark, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Yellow Wallpaper, written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman illustrate manipulation of nature. In The Birthmark, Aylmer strives for perfection, resulting in him manipulating the natural imperfections in humans. In The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator is isolated from her natural – of being a mother, a wife and a person – resulting in her crazed unnatural behavior. Yet, in “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, the speaker embraces nature, resulting in him to be filled with pleasure and joy. These readings illustrate the necessity to embrace nature in both the world and people.
The Birthmark is a short story about Aylmer, a scientist, and his beautiful wife, Georgiana. After marrying Georgiana, Aylmer becomes shocked and disgusted by the crimson hand-shaped birthmark on her cheek. Georgiana agrees out of love for her husband, to allow him to remove her birthmark. In order to remove the birthmark, Aylmer creates a clear concoction that Georgiana drinks. After waking up Georgiana turns to Aylmer and tells him she is dying and he “rejected the best the earth could offer” (477). Through Georgiana’s death Hawthorne illustrates how perfection is not natural and cannot be found in our world only in heaven. This is why after Georgiana is made perfect she dies and goes to heaven - the one place for perfection.
The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story about the narrator and her husband, John, living in a rented house on a lake while she recovers from temporary nervous depression. After being isolated from any activity and almost all social contact, the narrator goes crazy. Just as in The Birthmark, Gilman illustrates the repercussions of manipulating with nature. In this case her husband, John, is manipulating the narrators’ ability to be a mother and also her freedom – two things that are natural. As a result the yellow wallpaper in the bedroom captivates her very thought.
“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” is a poem about the speaker encountering a field of daffodils besides a lake. He is taken back in awe by the sheer beauty of nature. Unlike The Birthmark and The Yellow Wallpaper, the speaker understands the pure beauty of nature and the unnecessary need to manipulate it in anyway. Because of this knowledge the speaker is able to find inner peace and joy, unlike Aylmer and the women in The Yellow Wallpaper.
During my time serving at Acts 4 Youth there were many times where the nature of the boys being helped was discussed. Growing up in poverty, broken homes, and crime prone neighborhoods has caused the boys to naturally be sensitive about their egos, predisposed to violence, and in need of guidance. Unlike The Yellow Wallpaper and The Birthmark, we are not trying to manipulate the boys’ nature but instead to help them realize the need to grow out of the nature their neighborhoods have "given them". By doing so we strive to have them realize that just like how the speaker in “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” was at peace and happy, they can be too.