The “Birthmark” On Our Country
The theme of the pursuit of perfection, particularly at the expense of others, is noticeable throughout the writing of Hawthorne, Gilman, and Wordsworth. In both Hawthorne’s and Gilman’s stories, the dominant male characters had the intentions of taking extreme measures to create perfection and in the process, completely lost the identity of what was most important to them. In the tumultuous time we are experiencing now, in order to learn from the messages of these short stories, we must discuss and accept our imperfections as a nation, and actively work to mend a broken relationship between the divisions that exist in our country.
As a Loyola sponsored event, I had the opportunity to attend a viewing of the movie “Selma” on Tuesday. The movie certainly lived up to the praise it received by critics around the time it initially released as it helped me to better experience and appreciate the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. It was always interesting learning about this turbulent time in my history classes, however, viewing their representation of the emotion and historically based dialogue between actors really helped me to better grasp these important events in our history.
When comparing the events of the 1960’s to the present, it is clear to me that there is a lot of progress that must occur in this country before we can truly witness the benefits of equality that the men and women of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement had hoped for. Unfortunately, the dialogue that is necessary to this progress has been hushed, only to be debated following riots or the death of innocent men and women. It is hard to believe that most Americans are ignorant to the divide that still exists today. Instead, I think the majority of our country tries to reassure themselves that we have outgrown the racism that they believe to have only existed in the deep South of the 1800’s. Many Americans turn a blind eye to the injustices we encounter every day in order to give themselves a false sense of perfection.
Interestingly, this intentional attempt to neglect our imperfections is what ultimately failed the families in the writing of Hawthorne and Gilman. The narrator claims, “he does not believe I am sick!” (Gilman 388) The narrator is able to conceal a lot of her emotions until they completely consume her identity. In Hawthorne’s writing, the Aylmer is able to convince his wife that what he is thinking about her imperfections is in fact the reality. Today, I believe that by ignoring the voices of a large population of people, they too have become desperate to express their feelings.
Just like the mark of imperfection on the cheek of Georgiana, there is an undeniable mark of imperfection on the history of the United States. We need to begin to have a dialogue about the injustices that many people face today. There is an underlying moral issue which legislation can not fix that needs to be addressed. Instead of creating a false perfection or simply ignoring a significant issue, as the characters of the short stories did, I urge our country to accept our own "birthmark" and take proper action to fix our culture correctly while we can.