Through vivid details, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by WIlliam Wordsworth, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and “The Odyssey: Belly of the Beast” performed by Odds Bodkin immerse the audience into the world of their subjects. Your experience of the stories goes beyond a passive, modern day reaction in such a way that you feel like you are the narrator or speaker and experience his or her life events, from pure delight to extreme horror. In today’s society, people are not in touch with their emotions, choosing to suppress them in favor of academic or professional success thereby ignoring a fundamental part of what makes us human. However, these works have been written or in Bodkin’s case, performed, to evoke such emotions like anguish, disgust, shock, wonder, and levity with which people are not otherwise familiar or comfortable. By becoming more in touch with your emotions, you can understand who you are as an individual in society and how you function on a basic level.
Much like the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory classic “Pure Imagination,” Odds Bodkin invited the audience members to close their eyes and journey to Ancient Greece, the insides of a wooden horse, outside of the walls of Troy, to be specific. The swirling gusts of wind and intermitted chirping of birds set the scene for a beautiful day, to be sitting inside of a horse at the end of the ten year long war for the heart of Helen. Unflagging in his efforts to transport each and every audience member into the company of Odysseus, Bodkin only added to the atmosphere, using theatrical voices for different characters and describing in incredible detail each new location. Desperation, excitement, and longing were all emotions floating through your head as you tried to imagine what it was like to be part of Odysseus’ crew.
The rush of joy filling your body at the sight of land rivals the delight felt by the speaker as he daydreams about the field of golden daffodils. “For oft, when on my couch I lie/ In vacant or in pensive mood ... my heart with pleasure fills/ And dances with the daffodils.” With the advent of new technology in the digital age, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” reminds its readers not to lose sight of the wonder in the simplicity of a flower bloom.
As your foot reaches dry land for the first time in days, both anticipation and greed swim to the forefront of your mind as you set out to find not only food but also gold. After scavenging the land and scaring off any inhabitants (albeit only two), you return to the ships with only mild success. You beg Odysseus to stay another night, and he reluctantly agrees. It is not as if you are staying in a colonial mansion, imprisoned in a room whose wallpaper has “one of those sprawling, flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin” (389). There, your husband keeps you locked in that room to the detriment of both your mental and physical health, and even though you are only the reader, you cannot help but feel insanity creep into the back of your mind. There is both sorrow and compassion for her as you watch the woman’s mind deteriorate right before your eyes as you know this confinement is causing irreparable damage. Innumerable situations result in permanent damage as you find that life “permits us, indeed, to mar, but seldom to mend” (470). You are not able to escape the throes of insanity or the flying arrows as the natives chase you from their land. Actions like emotions have consequences that we are not only unable but cannot afford to escape. Experiencing emotions though sometimes difficult is necessary as it reminds us of our human nature and permits us to feel in a society that is disconnected from feelings.