The Beautiful Duckling


Poor lil guy =/

This was an essay I wrote for College Composition class. Basically I define beauty kind of sorta not really maybe? XP Just read it if you’re interested, and I hope you enjoy. 🙂

Sitting on her eggs, the mother duck speculated eagerly over the strange, large egg underneath her. When they all hatched however, she found to her disappointment that the most promising egg had yielded the ugliest duckling. In the real world, people celebrate artists for coming up with innovative, new perspectives on life. They call difference beautiful. How did two examples of the same concept, beauty, produce such drastically different results? Why did the mother duckling automatically ostracize her offspring for its difference from the norm while humanity cheered on painters and composers for creating something they had not seen or heard before? This discrepancy exists because what someone calls beautiful ultimately reflects his or her own nature, and thus the definition of beauty is mostly subjective.

Most people have heard of the pithy saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” and in sooth it could not have got much closer to the mark. Two people look at an abstract painting and, where one sees random splotches and ridiculous shapes, another sees art and beauty. Initially believing he did not look beautiful, the ugly duckling realized when he had grown up that everyone had lied to him and he did actually look beautiful. What changed? He saw himself from a different perspective. After seeing the other swans flying gracefully through the sky, he realized that his place belonged among them in the air, and in that he found a sense of beauty.

Yet, despite the subjectivity surrounding beauty, people will fight quite strongly over whether or not something deserves the adjective beautiful. They most certainly have a reason for adamantly calling something ugly. When the pompous Mr. Smith brushes Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night aside calling it unrealistic, he has based his perception of beauty on realism. In the story of the ugly duckling, the duckling’s mother based her standards of beauty on what she knew. Because the ugly duckling looked different from what she expected and knew, to her eye, he was not beautiful.

Despite all these differences, beauty did not subject itself completely to human opinions. Time and careful observation have shown that humans do tend to see beauty in similar things. Complementary colors and the golden ratio work together with the rule of thirds to create proportion, balance, and symmetry which many people find pleasing to the eye. Sounds which clash and cause discordance contrast sharply with harmonious chords and melodies. Of the two, most people would call the latter beautiful and the former unpleasant.

While discussing the nuances of how the definition of beautiful floats in its effervescent manner through all kinds of writing and our daily language lends insight to the particulars of English, the true importance of beauty comes not from what it describes but from who it describes. What people term beautiful reflects a part of themselves. When the mother duckling called the ugly duckling ugly, she did it not in a spiteful manner, but instead she demonstrated a mother’s blind love for her own children versus the children of some other parent. After seeing the swans fly across the sky, the ugly duckling only had to look into the lake to realize that he had lived too long thinking of himself as ugly, and when he called himself beautiful for the first time, he demonstrated an acceptance of himself. God created everything beautiful, and questions about the beauty of anything He made point not at an imperfection in the creation, but at a hole in the questioner.

Tours yruly


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