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Eyes of Perception: Based on the Works of Emily Dickinson, Elie Wiesel and Pieter Bruegel

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Through the creation of differing backgrounds, contrasting perspectives among people shape how the system of human society works. Having to be raised in certain ways with distinguished experiences, it is evident that people have various views on concepts. These different perceptions can be expressed in the form of literature and artwork. For example, the poems, ‘Before I Got My Eye Put Out’ and ‘We Grow Accustomed to the Dark’ by Emily Dickinson, depicts the advantages and beauty in blindness that the author inherits. Whereas, ‘Night’, a memoir by Elie Wiesel, displays the author’s atrocious experience of the Holocaust. In regards to artworks, ‘Landscape with the Fall of Icarus’ and ‘The Census of Bethlehem’, created by Pieter Bruegel, illustrate the ancient Greek and religious coming of the Holy Family. Elie Wiesel, Emily Dickinson, and Pieter Bruegel use stylistic techniques to ultimately deliver their message to humanity.

Firstly, Emily Dickinson conveys her perception of optimism in life despite losing her sight with the use of diction. In her poem, ‘Before I Got My Eye Put Out’, the author experiences “the uncertain step of newness of the night,” where she begins to deal with blindness and depression (Dickinson, 6). However, Emily Dickinson shifts perspectives when she “adjust [herself] to Midnight” (19) and that “life steps almost straight” (20). From what she writes, Emily Dickinson delivers the theme of overcoming obstacles. At first, she struggles with the challenges of losing her sight as well as dealing with depression, but later it changes when she adjusts herself into living with it. The author’s use of word choice, ‘almost’, in context, underlines that she bypasses her challenges by coping with it. Correspondingly, Emily Dickinson further demonstrates a positive aspect of her challenges through her poem, ‘Before I Got My Eye Put Out’. Specifically, her ability to adjust to blindness leads to the point where she expresses preference to it, even if she is offered her sight back. In the poem, the author states, “But were it told to me – Today –That I might have the sky/ For mine...my Heart Would split” (Dickinson, 5-8). As one can see, Emily Dickinson’s use of stylistic devices, specifically diction, portrays her hopes through her disabilities. Her word choice of ‘today’ clearly emphasizes the fact that she would certainly never give up her blindness now that she experienced living with it. Emily Dickinson faces the loss of her sight during her lifetime, but she finds ways to cope and even utilize that disability for her own. Nevertheless, she discloses the message that life comes with optimism and that obstacles will soon be overcome. Through her poems, Emily Dickinson portrays the positive aspect of life, turning her disadvantage to her own preference.

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In contrast, Elie Wiesel portrays his negative view of life through explicit imagery from his experience of the Holocaust. From his novel, ‘Night’, Elie Wiesel writes about his traumatic experience of leaving his moralities behind to survive with the competition of many other prisoners who have the same pursuit. During one scene, bread was tossed inside the prisoner’s bus where men were “hurling...trampling, tearing at and mauling each other”, which Wiesel describes “Beast of prey unleashed, animal hate in their eyes” (Wiesel, 101). Through the use of imagery, Wiesel depicts his vivid personal experience, coming to the conclusion that human beings are selfish. In the bus, all the prisoners’ target was the bread and nothing else; they fought viciously for their lives, violently killing off others to survive. From what he witnessed, human beings are inner beasts who disregard societal principles for their own greed. In addition to this scene, Wiesel also witnesses tragedy among a father, Rabbi Eliahu, and his son. To summarize, Rabbi Eliahu lost his son after falling behind during a run to Gleiwitz. At that time, people who fell behind during the run risked being killed through the SS officers or trampled by the other prisoners. During that time, Rabbi Eliahu’s son ran ahead of his father after noticing him “losing ground, sliding back to the rear of the column...letting the distance between them become greater” (Wiesel, 91). The example of the kinship between the father and his son further exemplifies how human beings have the strong desire to survive even if they have to sacrifice someone, they are close to. The imagery depicted from this part of the story clearly demonstrates the author’s viewpoint of humanity where readers can visually see the scene. As one can see, Wiesel conveys the theme of greediness in human nature. All in all, Wiesel portrays his idea of a greedy and barbaric human society through his traumatic hardships and struggles during the Holocaust.

In an artistic point of view, Pieter Bruegel illustrates his viewpoint on human society with the stylistic use of light perspective. Ultimately, Bruegel portrays human’s sense of ignorance in his paintings, ‘Landscape with the Fall of Icarus’ and ‘The Census of Bethlehem’. In ‘Landscape with the Fall of Icarus’, an epic hero, Icarus, falls into the ocean which led to his death. Through Breughel’s use of perspective, Icarus is not drawn at the center of the illustration; rather, it is the farmer who is plowing the soil. In addition to that, the fisher, shepherd, and ship all are facing away from the hero and working on their designated jobs. As one can see, the stylistic techniques that is portrayed demonstrate the artist’s message, which illustrates ignorance in human nature. Everybody around Icarus fails to notice the fallen hero due to his focus on work. Their devotion to their own duties prevents them from noticing the tragedy. In another significant art piece, ‘The Census at Bethlehem’, the same theme is viewed. Brueghel drew the Holy Family, biblical characters that heavily impact on a majority of people’s lives to emphasize the idea of obliviousness. Through the use of perspective, the artist directs his focus to the cabin where a lot of the citizens are headed to. Looking carefully, Mary and Joseph are shown with no emphasis in color. Similar to the first painting, Bruegel purposely illustrates this to portray the harshness of human nature. Everyone did not notice the miracles that were right in front of them. Again, this type of unconsciousness emphasizes how humans are attached to their desires and rush through them in order to finish their duties that they become blinded by the revelation taking place. Through the use of perspective and light, Bruegel is able to portray his perception of ignorance in human nature with his artworks.

In summation, different perceptions can be expressed in various stylistic techniques whether it is through forms of poetry, memoirs, or an art piece. Dickinson, Wiesel, and Bruegel all characterized their viewpoints of ignorance, optimism, and selfishness on human society where they used diction, definitive imagery from experience, and application of light and dark to captivate their perspectives. From the themes that they disclose, humanity is perceived differently through one’s personal experiences. To reiterate, perspective varies among one’s eyes and with that comes the idea that there are many truths to how the world can be seen.

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Eyes of Perception: Based on the Works of Emily Dickinson, Elie Wiesel and Pieter Bruegel. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/eyes-of-perception-based-on-the-works-of-emily-dickinson-elie-wiesel-and-pieter-bruegel/
“Eyes of Perception: Based on the Works of Emily Dickinson, Elie Wiesel and Pieter Bruegel.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/eyes-of-perception-based-on-the-works-of-emily-dickinson-elie-wiesel-and-pieter-bruegel/
Eyes of Perception: Based on the Works of Emily Dickinson, Elie Wiesel and Pieter Bruegel. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/eyes-of-perception-based-on-the-works-of-emily-dickinson-elie-wiesel-and-pieter-bruegel/> [Accessed 4 Mar. 2024].
Eyes of Perception: Based on the Works of Emily Dickinson, Elie Wiesel and Pieter Bruegel [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2024 Mar 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/eyes-of-perception-based-on-the-works-of-emily-dickinson-elie-wiesel-and-pieter-bruegel/
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