“When I consider how my light is spent” by Milton, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by Shakespeare and “One Word” by Gilbert demonstrate that individuals should avoid seeing perfection as worth pursuing. Although perfection is ideal, it is rarely practical. By continuing to search after one goal the searcher must sacrifice other values. However, by pursuing a relative balance in all things and by working to their potential, people can live a good and happy life. Milton, Shakespeare, and Gilbert contribute to the theory that devotion to one topic is not beneficial to the seeker as it is liable to leave open gaps in other sections of life.
Milton’s work demonstrates that talents should be used to their capacity regardless of the results being perfect or not. Milton became blind in the middle of his life and was forced to reduce the amount of work that he put forth afterwards. In his poem he questions the amount of work that God expects him to produce. He reaches his conclusion with the thought that “God doth not need either man’s work or his own gifts. Who best bear his mild yoke, they serve him best” (lines 9-11). These lines show that God only expects man to work with what he has given him. It would be unhealthy and impossible for Milton to produce the same amount of work as before without the ability to see. Milton is expected to continue his development of poetry but could not be expected to provide the same workload as before. From the poem “When I consider how my life is spent” it can be inferred that the individual is only expected to work within their talents, not overstep them.
Similarly, Shakespeare demonstrates that perfection should not be searched for in other people in order to find happiness. In “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” it is shown that physical beauty should not be the only goal for a lover to reach because it will not suffice alone. Although the woman referenced in the poem may be pale and her breath may reek, the writer’s love is still rare and beautiful. If the speaker simply sought after a lady with rosy cheeks and who brushed her teeth regularly he would have missed out on a priceless experience. His love for a physically unsatisfying counterpart shows that such love can occur regardless of whether she is imperfect. By realizing that he did not need a perfect partner the speaker found out the situation that makes him happiest.
Gilbert addresses her problem in “One Word” to discover the single value that trumps over the rest of her possibilities. From a conversation with a friend she realizes that many places and people entertain the thought of promoting one word over all the rest. However, when it comes to her personal choice of a word she is unable to select one to define her worldview. When undergoing this process she decides to reexamine her life and start new endeavors to see who she really is. Instead of choosing one word, a perfect word, she instead elects to follow many different paths and find out first hand which applies. Instead of choosing to attempt being perfect in a specific category she chooses to enjoy herself and explore her surroundings. The narrator’s example of refusing to be defined in one word demonstrates her unwillingness to attempt perfection in one category rather than trying out and possibly failing in different categories.
The works of Milton, Shakespeare, and Gilbert demonstrate that perfection is not necessarily ideal. Focusing on perfection alone can leave the other aspects of life undeveloped. In this situation beneficial and enjoyable resources may go untapped due to an overemphasis on one theme. However, by realizing that humans are imperfect and accepting this fact the individual can make peace with their disabilities, find true love, or rediscover who they are. By avoiding perfection the individual can lead an ideal life.