In each of the three pieces this week there seems to be a theme of falling short of expectations. Elizabeth’s chapter speaks about the conflict between not fitting in, Shakespeare’s poem notes the unattainable image that a woman is expected to reach, and in Milton’s poem, the speaker complains to God about not fulfilling his expectation of having eyesight. Each of these pieces takes on a different aspect of this similar theme.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s One Word chapter from “Eat. Pray. Love” shows that fitting in is an ever changing and constant struggle between a person and their society. Each city having one word that describes its people greatly limits the personalities of the inhabitants who will fit in. It is with this constant opposition and fight to fit in that people often find themselves acting against their nature (internal struggle) or acting out against society (external struggle). The expectation to fit in is nearly impossible because everyone has a different “word” at different points and phases of their life, staying in one place becomes impossible. This struggle to fit in relates to Shakespeare’s poem about his mistress, noting that expectations are ridiculous, yet every person is rare and unique in their own way. People have their own “word” and it should be celebrated, not thwarted in order to fit in.
In William Shakespeare’s My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun the speaker believes that the expectations and assumptions that all women should be as beautiful as goddesses is an unrealistic notion and that every woman is beautiful in her own rite. The speaker notes that although his mistress’ features aren’t perfect, she isn’t a goddess, her lips aren’t red like coral, her cheeks aren’t rosy, but she is still beautifully rare. He also goes on to mention that he believes that comparing a woman’s features to these unattainable perfections is ridiculous. This is very similar to modern culture’s ideas of the perfect image. Many young women are bombarded daily by ads, magazines, commercials, and pictures of beautiful, air brushed women that they are supposed to idolize. These comparisons are impossible to achieve and ends up only emotionally hurting the young girls that they are marking to, prompting anorexia and other unhealthy form disfiguring habits.
In John Milton’s When I consider how my light is spent it can be seen that the speaker is very frustrated with God and blames God for taking away his eyesight, making him blind. The speaker uses the Jesus’ parable of the “talent” to refer to the virtue of patience. The speaker, however, is clearly frustrated and does not want to wait until his death to reap the rewards of his “talent” (gaining his eyesight upon leaving the earthly world). Almost everyone, at some point in his or her lives, becomes frustrated and blames others, especially God, for their misfortune. Although most people know what is truly right and are capable of taking responsibility and accepting misfortune, it is human nature to question the purpose of such things (like blindness) and to even question God.