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Sheri S. Tepper's Novel, Beauty Essay

1598 words - 6 pages

There are many misconceptions about beauty and its importance, in todays society. In a time when physical beauty can be of utter importance, we seem to be at a loss of it. What is beauty and where can it be found? Can we see it in the air we breathe, the brilliant oceans, in the striking sunsets, or even in one another? With the weight of beauty in today's society, the common use of expressions used to describe life's brilliance is expected. The many expressions used to discuss beauty such as "beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder" and "beauty runs only skin deep" all stimulate different opinions and create controversy, but the most notorious of all, being that "beauty doesn't last forever." Sheri S. Tepper's Beauty reinstates the many questions regarding beauty and it's value, regardless of the time in which it is present. As time goes on, all that is beautiful and magical in the world will eventually become extinct. In her web review of the novel, Amanda Holland-Minkley, a professor at Cornell University, argues that the guiding theme throughout the novel is "the presence of magic and beauty in the world, and the risk we run of allowing them to disappear." As Beauty lives through the 20th century, her new experiences cause her to view life from a different perspective. Her once peaceful and simple life in the 14th century at Westfaire was now changed into a life where famine, drugs, violence, disease, overpopulation, and pain were all too common. In this world, beauty and magic are non-existent, so much so that the standards of beauty have minimized to almost nothing. Beauty says, "The worst part of living here is that nothing is beautiful. Magic doesn't work" (101). The time in which Beauty is living through is completely void of anything she has experienced during her past life in the 1400's. In the version of the future that Beauty sees, the world's population has outgrown the resources for feeding it, and beauty and magic are a thing of the past. The alternate, magical world of Fairy, which Beauty also visits, exemplifies perfection in any given society. This utopia is strategically placed in the novel to stress the lack of such perfection in our world today. There are many reasons to believe that beauty plays a significant role in our current society. From very early on in childhood, parents teach their children that true beauty comes from within, that physical beauty is unimportant. The truth of the matter is that good looks are a vital factor that can give someone an unfair advantage. Nowadays, discrimination against those who are less attractive is far too common and widely practiced. In jobs, for instance, a company may narrow their selection down to two people, both of equal qualifications, and undoubtedly choose the one who is better looking. In his online article entitled "How Important are Good Looks," Jin Taek Lee from Korea realizes that the common understanding in America is that "most people tended to relate the company's...

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