September 19, 2012
In “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Birthmark” by Nathanial Hawthorne, and the lecture given by M. Cathleen Kaveny on “Prophecy, Civility, and Truth” they all have the same common theme of finding the beauty when it is not so easy to find. All four of these examples present this topic in a different way.
Although at first, Hawthorne expresses that the husband loves the birthmark of his wife Georgiana, at the end of the "The Birthmark", it takes on a plot twist. In the first few pages of this text, the husband, Aylmer expresses that, “you 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.” After this quote is stated, we realize that the idea of beauty is used in an entirely different sense. It is exemplified now that Aylmer is obsessed with having that birthmark or as the text refers it to as the “a tiny hand upon the infant’s cheek, and left this impress there…” removed. He can no longer see the beauty in her face after he “shudders” each time he sees her. This story concludes with Georgina actually dying due to the consumption of the poison that Aylmer gives with her. This story reflects upon the idea of an obsession to perfect beauty rather than the natural beauty we are born with.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” represents unknown beauty and an unseen appreciation for what is really there. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” Gilman presents this hidden beauty and fascination in the wallpaper. He examines the flaws of the wallpaper by describing the smell and how it “hovers in the dining-room, skulking in the parlor, hiding in the hall, lying in wait for me on the stairs.” At first the characters see disgust in this, but eventually see the beauty. At first, there is some sort of hatred for this wallpaper and states, “The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing.” As seen in this quote, the narrator is not content with this wallpaper. She hates it so much but still seems to be starring at it and pondering what lies beneath it. Through all this pondering and questioning and the increasing fascination with the paper, she finds the beauty in it. And my finding the beauty in it, she eventually goes insane and starts hallucinating. She states, “I don’t like to look out of the windows even-there are so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast.” This is truly an insane hallucination of finding "beauty."
Wordsworth also connects the common theme of seeing the beauty in the simplest object, such as a daffodil. As he wanders as child, alone through this field of daffodils his spirits are raised. This beauty is characterized as seeing the good in nature and in the simplest forms of life. He states whenever he is in a “vacant or in pensive mood, they flash upon that inward eye, which is the bliss of solitude, and then my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils.” This shows that even the tiniest objects can lift his sprits up in the saddest of times.
The lecture that was given on September 19th by M. Cathleen Kaveny, J.D., Ph.D
titled Prophecy, Civility and Truth was about the exploration and strengthening of Loyola’s commitment to justice and how we as a community enhance Loyola’s justice traditions. This lecture exemplified that we must see the intersection between love and justice and with this comes beauty; beauty to promote peace and justice as advocators of the Christian religion. This was described through the examination of the prophetic rhetoric and how we have a demand to renew the covenant with the one true God. “There are some dangers of this prophetic way,” states Kaveny. Some of these dangers may include that there will be no outcome if you do not target a specific audience and find the beauty in them to help them. She also summarizes that there sometimes might be an unwillingness to work together on issues; so finding the good in this criteria is key.
All four of these works illustrate the common theme of beauty, whether it be in a smelly yellow wallpaper, a simple daffodil, a facial birthmark, or a specific culture.