After finishing the three readings for Tuesday’s class, I realized that all three have an overall theme of happiness and longing for personal fulfillment, in other words, a journey. Each speaker (or narrator) describes what is important to them, what they are passionate about, and what they hope for the future. I think that it is important for a narrator or speaker to be aware of their hopes and know what makes them happy. I believe that if a narrator did not, they wouldn’t be a very reliable or interesting narrator to the story or poem. The message or purpose of the work would not be properly portrayed if the narrator portrayed herself/himself as confused, misguided, or lost. Similarly, it is important to reflect on your own life and to determine what makes you happy, instead of following what everyone else may be doing. By getting away from that social expectation, a person can truly grow and learn more about themselves.
In “One Word”, which is an excerpt from “Eat. Pray. Love.”, the narrator realizes that she does not necessarily fit in with the lifestyle of Rome, solely because her “personal word does not match the word of the city” (Gilbert 103). Once she realized she did not fit the mold of the city, she reflected upon her actions and life, trying to determine what her own personal word was. She realized that the journey she was on would help her find her word. In order to grow as a person, she had to reflect upon her experiences, and move forward. She chose to move forward by going on a shopping spree for expensive lingerie that she would bring to her next destination, India. Her reflections allowed personal growth. Liz decided to go on her journey with hopes of finding herself and finding true happiness. She needed to determine what her own personal word was in order to find her happiness. I believe that both reflection and a journey that forces you to be independent in an unfamiliar place, allows a person to actually come to realize what they want in life. Whether it is to find love, happiness, security, or find out who you are as a person, a journey will lead you there.
In Shakespeare’s sonnet, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, the speaker makes comparisons to other natural beauties, but oddly, these other natural beauties always are more beautiful than the mistress. The honesty and rawness to the sonnet allows readers to see a new perspective on love. Instead of idolizing a woman, like most poets at the time chose to do, Shakespeare wrote this poem to experiment with how honest a speaker could be and still get away with it. This could be a journey in itself for Shakespeare as a poet, experimenting with truth, honesty, and how other poets would interpret this new way of writing a sonnet. It’s also a journey for the speaker because he takes a risk in the future of the relationship, in case he offends the mistress with his brutal honesty. Often times, people may be unsure of whether it is more beneficial to lie to make a girlfriend happy, or to be completely honest, and hope for the best. Choosing between the two options can be a very risky decision, and it also shows a lot about the person, and the love the person has for their partner. The rhyming couplet at the end of this sonnet serves as a resolution to the comparisons between nature and his mistress. Instead of continuing to make comparisons to nature, the speaker realizes that his “mistress” and love is pure and beautiful, and nothing can compare to that. This realization is only made after the speaker’s journey and experimentation with being honest to his mistress and to himself about his feelings.
“When I consider how my light is spent” by John Milton is different from the other readings this week because instead of a journey in regards to a person’s self-discovery and love, the speaker’s journey in this poem is not just a journey, but it is also an obstacle. This poem portrays a journey of faith. John Milton was blind, and because of it, he struggled in his life determining what he did and did not believe. His relationship with God was tested. This poem accurately portrays this journey of faith and a journey of his relationship with God. Being blind is an extremely large obstacle to overcome and it would be difficult to come to terms with it. Unlike the other two readings, where the speaker and narrator go on journeys for self-improvement, discovery, and personal fulfillment, the speaker in Milton’s poem goes on a journey in order to survive. Without a strong relationship with God, and without the speaker’s faith, coming to terms with blindness and the experiences he is missing in life because of it, could be hard to live with. This poem describes the sense of power and life that the speaker realizes he has after he reflects on his life and how he is different from everyone else. The first half of the poem describes the speaker questioning God and his reasoning for making him blind. After each of these lines, they are resolved by a rhyming couplet. This rhyming couplet serves as a sort of answer to the questions posed in the line or lines above it. There is a turning point in the poem at line 8, where the speaker realizes that just because he has a disability, doesn’t mean he is not capable of doing great things in the world, he just has to learn to be patient and to adjust to his new surroundings. After this, the rhyming scheme also changes, which further emphasizes the journey coming to an end and the speaker realizing his full potential in life. The speaker’s journey is similar to Liz’s in that both are looking for a sense of fulfillment and wonder in their life, and don’t know how to approach getting it. Each speaker approaches it in their own way, but both achieve the end result they were looking for.
These three readings depict a journey of the self. These readings prove that although people can encounter difficult situations in life, or become unhappy with their lives, each person has the power to choose the course and direction of their own lives. By taking the initiative to make changes and realize what will truly make a person happy, each person can find their own purpose in the world.