Gabriella Gizzo 9/19/12
Understanding Literature Dr. Ellis
I chose Finding Inner Peace as my title because I believe that each of these stories dealt with discovering peacefulness and inner contentment. These stories and the Zen Mediation event shared that common theme of being at peace with oneself. However, each story still varied because each of the speakers’ was on their own journey. My claim was to connect all four stories with the theme of finding inner peace.
In the poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, by William Wordsworth, the speaker demonstrated that he was lonely and felt disconnected from the world. However, as time goes on, the speaker began to take in all the beauty that nature had to offer him. He noticed the trees, stars, breeze and the daffodils. William Wordsworth used personification to give the daffodils human qualities because their importance signified another personal connection to nature. The speaker is making all these connections to nature and realized that life has a lot to offer him and he was content with his life. The speaker discovered his inner peace by looking around him and noticing the nature. He felt a sense of calmness realizing this idea because this also meant that he discovered a sense of his purpose on earth.
In the short story, The Birthmark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the main character, Aylmer, demonstrated the importance of scientific experiments and the drive of perfection to remove his wife’s birthmark. Aylmer was a scientist and he constantly wanted perfection in his life. His wife, Georgiana, had a deep crimson, red birthmark on her cheek. They both couldn’t stand the sight of this imperfection and decided to remove it- at all costs. After a series of tests and experiments, Georgiana was resting and the birthmark began to disappear. However, the medicine was too strong and began to kill her. Georgiana explained to Aylmer that he rejected one of life’s greatest gifts because since he didn’t appreciate her for who he was and tried to change her– he lost the most precious gift of all: her life. After that, Georgiana died. Aylmer learned that he destroyed his own peace and happiness by trying to attain the idea of perfection for his wife. However, a new sense of contentment and peace developed because the strong medicine became the elixir of mortality. In the end, his work, not his wife, gave him that pleasure and peace of mind.
In the short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the narrator described how she was confined to this yellow wallpaper ironically, by the one person who loves her the most. The narrator had a bad nervous condition which left her confined to only doing specific activities in their house. Her husband, was a physician, and had her to attached to this yellow wallpaper. As the story progresses, the narrator gets different vibes and feelings from the yellow wallpaper. In the end, she finds the strength, peace and contentment she needed to break free of the yellow wallpaper. She ripped the yellow wallpaper off the wall and is finally free. However, her husband was shocked and fainted. Therefore, he didn’t achieve a sense of peace and contentment. On the other hand, the narrator really discovered herself because she allowed herself to come out of her shell and break the yellow wallpaper-in order to live her life again.
In my Zen Mediation Class, by Dr. Davis, I learned the traditions and storyline of Zen Mediation. The cultural rituals, such as bowing before you enter the room and folding your hands in your lap, help to center your body in a natural flow and rhythm. The actual mediation lasted for about 15 minutes and it was purely a time for self reflection. All of these qualities, allowed me to expose myself in a new way that brought me closer to my level of inner peace and contentment. It brought me closer to who I really was a person.
In conclusion, all of these instances contain that theme of finding contentment and happiness within oneself. I believe that going to the Zen Mediation class and then discovering this theme in the readings really connected what I learned inside the classroom and what I participated in outside of the classroom.