In each of the literary works by Woodsworth, Hawthorne, and Gilman the underlying theme of the oppression is evident. In Woodsworth and Hawthorne the oppression of women is intensively brought to the reader’s attention. Even though both the women in the two short stories are incredibly and deeply loved by their husbands it is the husbands desire for perfection that eventually destroys their wives. All the readings deliver the message that natural beauty or the natural mind is essentially what brings life to the world but humans are constantly trying to correct, manage, or interpret these biological occurrences.
In Hawthorne’s short story, “The Birthmark” Georgiana is the wife of scientist Aylmer. Georgiana is astonishingly beautiful but was born with a birthmark on her cheek that frequently turns into a bright red. This birthmark is the imperfection of her perfection. The birthmark is natural and symbolizes her mortality. Georgiana and her husband are repulsed with her birthmark and strive for the perfection of Georgiana with the removal of her birthmark. Oppression is evident in the way that Aylmer continuously disapproves of his wife’s appearance and eventually makes her confess that she would rather die then have the birthmark, “Either remove this dreadful hand, or take my wretched life!” (Hawthorne 469). Georgiana is convinced she is unworthy of life due of her small imperfection and Aylmer is the source of her state of mind. The mistreatment eventually leads to Georgiana’s death due to the reality that perfection does not exist. Her soul transcends to the heavens at the end of the tale.
In Gilman’s tale “The Yellow Wallpaper” the writer gives detail on her mental destruction. Similar to “The Birthmark”, the husband identifies an imperfection in his wife. He is a physician and proclaims that his wife is unwell and places her away from the world in solitude only with visits from him and one other woman. She is not allowed to do much and she hides her writings from her husband. Like Georgiana she over analyzes herself and all that is around her to the point where she looses her natural mind. The mistreatment of this women leads to her destruction.
Wordsworth’s, “I wandered Lonely as a Cloud” can be related to the oppression of the women because the poem seems to show someone or something going through the motions and not voicing themselves. Both the women in the short stories have their minds overthrown by the desires of their husbands and seem to be helpless. The poem shows loneliness like the two women experience. The poem seems to have a passive reflective aspect.
The literary works correlate with my journey of service learning because I am looking forward to the reflective part of this opportunity. During service that I have done in the past (I fed the homeless in my hometown a few Saturdays during the year) has left me feeling pretty good. The women in the short stories by Hawthorne and Gilman have a negative self-reflecting process I believe which eventually leads to their destruction and both seem to be lonely even though their husbands love them. It is pretty drastic but in relation my own experiences I feel that service-learning will lead to positive reflection and therefore making my life a little better. Interacting with people outside of Loyola and making a difference in the world I would hope would bring positive feelings and a better sense of who I am to myself. I don’t think I’m afraid of anything relating to service learning I’m overall just very excited to get into the classroom with the teachers and children.