Essay on Walt Whitman
While reading, "I Sing the Body Electric," Whitman's profound love of the body is extremely apparent. I found that I now have a better understanding of how he feels towards men, women and their bodies. He describes the human body in such detail, and he explains that many people have doubts about their bodies. He does not dwell on these doubts; he continues to describe how perfect the body is, and he even states that nothing is more satisfying than to admire the bodies of man and woman. Whitman has an understanding for the body that many will never have. He loves every inch of the body, and he makes this very apparent in the text.
Whitman describes the bodies of women and the bodies of men in an erotic sense. He describes women as exceedingly sexual beings, and he does the same thing when describing men. When Whitman states in section 6 of "I Sing the Body Electric" that "The man's body is sacred and the women's body is sacred", he allows the reader to really think about his or her body. The body is sacred as a whole. It does not matter if you are "the meanest one in the laborer's gang" or one of the well off. All bodies have a place in this world. The body is a part of the Earth, and we never go away. We are always a part of the earth and everything is sacred. It is sacred when you look at all of the body individual parts. Each part has its own function and each of these parts connect in a certain manner. The body is made up of "exquisite senses" and there are more wonders within that we cannot see with the naked eye.
After reading "I Sing the Body Electric" and "A Women Waits for Me," I really felt an understanding for the type of women that Whitman admires. He admires good-looking women and bold women. He sees women as his equal. He states that "they are not one jot less than I am". He has a tendency to focus on the women who are athletic and the women that openly admit their sexuality. He admires strong women and the way they present themselves to the world. "Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength, they know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle". Whitman holds the women at such a high level for this time period. Not only does he love the human body, he loves women and what they stand for. It seems to me that any woman who would stand up for herself would be a woman he would really enjoy being around. He does not look down upon women, and he speaks rather highly of them.
The way he perceives women compared to the way he perceives men is extremely equal. He admires a strong man and the strong structure of the male body as well as of the woman. In section 8 of "I Sing the Body Electric," Whitman asks if you have ever loved the body of a man or woman. He then states, "these are exactly the same to all in all nations and times all over the earth". He believes so powerfully that the body is sacred and that it does not matter to him which body we are discussing- male or female. "Man's, woman's, child's, ankle, instep, foot-ball, toes" these all represent the body and not just the parts of the body but of the soul .
Whitman has an extreme view of the body and he allows his readers to feel what he is saying. He describes each part of the body with such appetite. It is interesting to read his thoughts about the body in his time period. It seems that women and men still have the same outlook on their overall appearance. We always doubt ourselves, and our self-image never seems good enough. Many of us have this misrepresented self-image. We perceive ourselves differently then others perceive us. A human being has to be extremely self-confident to believe that every part of the body is sheer perfection. Whitman really expresses these sheer perfections of the body and of all its parts. He states that he shall "demand perfect men and women" and he believes that a perfect man and woman make a perfect pair. He allows the reader to take pride in the body, and to realize that every little thing is perfect just the way it is.
It is interesting to see how a person's self-image today is not much different from a person's self-image in Whitman's time period. Whitman, however, describes the body in such a positive manner that it is hard to not love the material body. If everyone were to view his or her body as though it were perfect, our world, as we know it, would be entirely different. Whitman holds the knowledge and understanding of the human body in his text. He has an appreciation for every aspect of the body, and he makes that clear throughout his work.
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