Lucy Grealy: Mirrors
Grealy’s essay is an actual account of a persons experience in this world. It explores the struggle as well as survival of the individual that was faced by disease and subsequent social alienation. She presents to the reader a detailed story of her painful life that was characterized by constant ridicule from the public. Notably, this is a reflection of the historical suffering of the Vietnam people during the time of the holocaust and the alienation of characters presented in Kafka’s literary works.
Grealy spent a considerable period of time worrying about her image and what the entire word thought about it. She defined her image in terms of the flaws that she thought characterized the same. These were often perpetuated by her frequent use of the mirror and creation of faulty images regarding her physical appearance. Generally, she was obsessed with her looks and considered herself disfigured and therefore unworthy of pubic admiration. As a result, she always hid behind a scarf or/and a mask in a bit to hole up from the entire public. It is indicated that being away from the mirror greatly relieved her and practically gave her a “moment of …freedom” (Nancy, David, Carl, Robert & Somers 7). In particular, this enabled her to face the world with an actual rather than perceived self image.
Generally, Grealy was not happy because of the inability to get normal reactions from the public. This according to her was contributed to by her disfigured face that could only be rectified through an operation. She contended that fixing her face through this procedure could give her a chance to attain a condition of normalcy and be like other people in the society. She refers to the normal people as being “whole, loved and contend” (Nancy et al 12).
In other words, she considers normal people to be those who are loved and appreciated by the society. This basically makes them experience an acceptable level of satisfaction in the society. In addition normal women according to her had a true identity of joy that was apparent in intimate relationships. Thus her non involvement in normal love affairs alienated her from the rest of the society. It is indicated that being able to fix her face would give her a feeling of fulfillment as a result of societal approval. She posits that her “life and soul” would also be fixed and ultimately, her entire life would greatly improve.
It is indicated that she derived a significant degree of comfort fro her imagination that once anything whatsoever was acquired, fixed or learnt, she would be in position to remember the relative lesson forever. Nevertheless, she discovers that fundamental and vital realities regarding the self are often leant through the hardest way. Specificity, she realizes that critical attributes such as struggle and courage greatly influence such lessons.
Nonetheless, Grealy appreciates the fact that suffering that people experience tends to stem from the perception of their images. This is further compounded by the images that the rest of the society accords them. Seemingly, the negative implications associated with this tend to affect their self worth and esteem. In some instances, some of them struggle to counter these challenges and face the same with great courage. However, this is often a lifetime struggle that deprives the affected individual of societal approval and subsequent personal satisfaction.
Platos “The Cave”
In most instances, humans have often failed dismally to understand and appreciate the basic factual components that characterize their wellbeing. In most cases, they are always deceived by their myopic perception of various experiences that they go through. In addition, they tend to distort the wellbeing of their senses that is charged with the responsibility of enabling them to capture the ideal and real forms of their experiences. Notably, this can only be effectively captured by the mind. However, the process is often clouded by human distortion regarding perception of experiences, events and their inherent reality.
Plato contends that this state of affairs is contributed to by the dazzling nature of visual perception. It is often so overwhelming that it makes an individual to overlook and ignore the hidden facets of reality that are presented by the experience or event. In particular, it makes the individual to lay undue emphasis on the aspects that are not real and therefore untrue to the event. The visual aspects hence tend to distort the reality of an event, experience or tool. A classic example in this regard would be the images seen on computers and televisions. According to Plato, the prisoners and other spectators only have a chance to see the reflections and shadows of things. In particular, they only tend to experience a “mediated vision of the events and personalities presented therein” (Nancy et al 29). In most cases, they are often unaware of the elaborate process that is employed in the creation and transmission of the visual images. This is only known to the technical personnel, who seemingly employ a great deal of human, technical and financial resources in creating the same.
Comparatively, the segment of the population that understands this process is smaller than the one that is unaware of it. Also, the percentage of the population that expresses concern with regard to understanding of the functioning of the technology is also very low. This is an indication that humans tend to be more interested in the face value of various objects than in the intrinsic value of the same. Of great concern is the fact that they transform this to their day to day lives and end up suffering from interpersonal disorders that compromise their physical as well as mental wellbeing. Indeed, Plato indicates that the experience in the cave can be misleading. This is due to the fact that the individuals in the same tend to have a superficial view of the environment outside it (Selby & Pamela 78). In particular, they rely on the sounds and other partial visuals for decision making.
From another perspective, it can be argued that the conditions in the caves are also deluding as they do not portray an actual picture of reality. Plato indicates that they are literary blinding and undermine the ability of humans to experience actual conditions that characterize the real environment. Although an extended stay in the same enables humans to live in a world of illusion, it can be posited that the harsh reality often awaits the same. In most cases, humans usually avoid real situations because of thee characteristic harsh realities. They consider illusions to be their temporary source of solace. However, in the long run, the usually face the realities of life that in such instances have more adverse implications on their holistic wellbeing
Fundamental Connections between the Two Essays
Both essays analyze the human nature and seek to underscore their disturbing characteristics that greatly undermine their psychological wellbeing and contribute to their suffering. In particular, the authors evaluate the images that humans accord themselves and contend that these impact negatively on their self esteem and worth. In the first essay, Grealy places great emphasis on her facial outlook and contends that it does not meet societal approval.
Lack of societal approval to her is like a death sentence because of the fact that it denies her the relative contentment and happiness. Seemingly, Grealy fails to acknowledge that her ‘real’ self is more important and should be accorded greater value than her facial looks. Likewise, Plato indicates that humans have increasingly relied on the external features of objects to judge their value. Sadly, these are often deceiving and deluding. In particular, they prevent them from understanding and appreciating the actual values of the objects.
In both essays, the society plays a critical role in shaping the perceptions that the objects are accorded. In other words, the values of the objects are entirely determined by the society rather than individuals. This is regardless of the fact that the individuals tend to understand the worth of the objects better than the society. In this respect, it can be posited that humans overly rely on the society for guidance. This has had negative impacts on their welfare as it had failed to acknowledge and appreciate their intrinsic value. Grealy in this regard lacks personal satisfaction that is important for self actualization. Plato on the other hand illustrates that humans prefer being associated with the external appearance of objects to their actual worth.
Nancy, Comley R., David Hamilton, Carl Klaus, Robert Scholes & Nancy Sommers. Fields of Reading: Motives for Writing. USA: Bedford, 2007.
Norwood, Selby & Pamela Bledsoe. Essential College English. USA: Longman, 2008.