The Two Faces Of Beauty Essay

2379 words - 10 pages

Lao Tzu once mused, "the truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth" (Tzu). Though Grealy idealizes the line "truth is beauty, beauty truth" from John Keats's poem, "Ode on a Grecian Urn," the reality of her unfortunate situation reflects the ideology of Tzu rather than that of Keats's due to the fact that instead of finding a beautiful truth Grealy finds herself trapped with a reality that she believes to be the antithesis of beauty. While Grealy desires to rebel against society's ideals she finds herself stuck in a perpetual cycle of depression and desire for conformity, believing that societal acceptance, within a society that measures a woman's value based on her ...view middle of the document...

The cover of the memoir, Autobiography of a Face, greatly contributes to the pathos of the piece by utilizing only neutral shades and portraying a girl covering her face as though filled with shame, like a beaten and abandoned animal, which evokes pity from the audience and makes them more willing to accept her claim that beauty arises from a combination of one's interpretation of beauty as well as society's interpretation of beauty. The dreary shades and disparaging tone exhibited are contrasted with the overall sanguine tone of the memoir which further emphasizes the fact that Grealy felt ashamed of her appearance and viewed it as something that she hoped she could fix. Grealy's optimistic attitude towards revising her appearance as well as her shame at her "ugly" visage led to her lack of self-value and forced her to believe that she was unlovable and repulsive. Grealy's feeling of worthlessness exhibited by her paradoxical usage of a cynical yet optimistic tone as well as society's confirmation of her physical inadequacy corroborates her assertion that beauty can be derived from societal interpretations of one as well as one's comprehension of one's self.
In order to effectively convey the idea that beauty comes from a combination of society's perceptions as well as one's perceptions of one's self, Grealy couples her slightly optimistic yet despairing tone with heart wrenching pathos. By constantly kindling the emotions of her audience and eliciting both pity and respect, Grealy is able to validate her claim that beauty comes from both society's and one's opinion of one's self by relating to her audience and allowing them to be empathetic of her situation. When Grealy disconsolately ponders, "What would it be like to walk down the street and be able to trust that no one would say anything nasty to me?" she evokes both sorrow and anger from the audience over the fact that a young girl would feel so rejected by society that she would have to wonder what it felt like to not be taunted, to not be laughed at (Grealy 157). The fact that Grealy is optimistic and believes that after her face is "fixed" she will finally be able to walk down a street with her head held high further infuriates the audience since they find it depressing that such a brilliant woman could dream no higher than what society would allow. By evoking indignation and despondency from her audience Grealy is able to validate her claim by demonstrating, through her disconsolate outlook on life and her low expectations of her fellow man, that her beauty comes from her own feeling of worthlessness as well as from society's classification of her as revolting. By utilizing a contrasting tone which is both hopeful and critical as well as stirring pathos to demonstrate that beauty is defined both by societal interpretations as well as one's interpretations of one's self, Grealy is able to prove her claim valid since it is widely applicable to modern society.
To affirm her claim...

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