The stories read for today’s discussion, Elizabeth Gilbert’s “One Word,” John Milton’s “When I consider how my light is spent,” and William Shakespeare “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” all speak about the main character’s perceived beauty. This “beauty” that I am referring to however isn’t prototypical. The physicality of it plays a part yes, but these stories look beyond the actual physical appearance of the characters, and this appearance seems to be one of imperfection. These two poems and one story all have underlying thoughts of “true beauty.” They tell tales that make the reader respect the real exquisiteness of appearance. It’s not perfect skin or the brightest smile, but how you view yourself and how you appear thru the eyes of your loved ones.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s “One Word” was the first story I read over the weekend. It has to do with a woman, Liz, who is currently venturing in Italy, but cannot seem to find herself. Her cab driver, Guilio discusses how different locations have different words associated with them. For example Rome is “sex” and The Vatican is “power.” He then asks Liz what her word is. Liz is troubled that she cannot relate to the city she wants to be associated with. She insists that “sex” is definitely not her word. At the end of the story however, she is admitting that she is buying lingerie and having the mindset of sex. Per Chi? For whom is she buying this clothing? Her true self is masked so well that she does not even know what lies underneath.
John Milton was a blind man, and his admitted imperfection was his lack of sight. He was well aware of this imperfection while writing “When I consider how my light is spent.” The poem talks about the relationship Milton had with God. “Doth God exact day-labor, light denied” (Milton 7) is he questioning God’s current mission for him. Does God still expect him to carry out his life duty with the same attitude, even with this deficiency? Milton later realizes that his blindness is something that God is accepting of. As long as Milton acted as the same man, his loved ones, including God would embrace him the same, as Milton himself should.
I finally read, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare. I felt like this poem was the most obvious in telling the story of unconditional love. Shakespeare speaks of his mistress and admits to seeing her lack of traditional physical beauty. He wastes no time by opening the poem with “my mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more read than her lips’ red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head (Shakespeare 1-4).” However, he goes on to say at the very end of the poem that his love is rare and no one can compare to her. It is unfair to say that Shakespeare sees past her imperfections, as he clearly notices, but it is fact that it has no ill effect on his love for her.
These stories help the cause that physical appearance is not so important in the judgment of one’s beauty. The authors of the stories I just referenced to clearly agree as they depict stories of characters that seem less fortunate in that department. Beauty is judged on a greater scale. It is portrayed by how you think of yourself and what the people around you think of you. The characters I read about were aware of this notion and pursued to find or realize beauty in this way.