by Rose Egerton
The Oxford Dictionary of English provides a few definitions of beauty, the first of which is “a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.”
Second, it is a “combination of qualities that pleases the intellect.”
Third, it is a “Beautiful or pleasing thing or person, in particular.”
So what exactly is beauty?
I believe that beauty is a quality that leads to appreciation and ponderous thinking.
Pleasure and satisfaction of the aesthetic senses is a secondary effect of beauty.
However, there are many different types of beauty.
Beauty can be found in almost everything.
A newborn baby’s wail.
In Ancient Greece, Aristotle studied and analyzed plays written by famous tragedians.
He came up with formulas and many observations based on these tragedies.
One of these was a phenomenon he entitled “catharsis.”
“Catharsis” comes from a Greek word meaning “purification.”
This effect refers to the emotional renewal the audience experiences when watching a play.
However, catharsis does not only refer to plays, but it applies to movies and books…Catharsis can be found in any telling of a story.
What is it about stories?
They can inspire audiences, make them feel terrible, make them cry.
Cause them pain. Emotionally.
This emotional disturbance causes an emotional drainage.
This drainage leaves the audience feeling cleansed.
Like the feeling you have after a good cry.
Just sort of okay with the world.
There is beauty in catharsis.
Applause roared from the classroom.
“Very nice presentation, Rose.”
Mrs. Vendredi said as Rose gathered her papers and made her way towards her seat. As the applause died down, she could tell that though her class was an enthusiastic audience, the clapping was empty praise. They still didn’t get what beauty was. This made Rose sad, as she terribly wanted for people to understand. The next student walked up to the board to present their project on ancient Greek plays. For the rest of the day, Rose enjoyed hanging out with her friends and was very deep in thought as she slowly trudged home in the rain. Again. She kicked the mud away with her black, rubber boots. Her short, brown, wet hair sopped against her forehead, sticking all over her face. She gripped her backpack tight and stared at the ground in thought. “I bet I’d look really hot if I was in a movie right now.” The back of her mind murmured. She stopped and listened to the rain falling. The cold seeped through her jacket and backpack. She didn’t want to think too hard about the water soaking into her backpack and probably ruining her books. She just stood, closed her eyes, and listened. With everything.
Later, after she had finished all of her homework and was lying in bed, she was deep in thought again. She was trying to determine what the common characteristic of all of her favorite movies was. She came up with the observation that all of the movies she thought were really good had a sort of humbleness about them. They all made her feel really small and pensive. Like, they each emphasized stories and the search for identity which are both extremely universal things. They each were a kind of movie that didn’t bring attention to themselves, but to the story of the world and the story of each individual. They kind of blended into the background and left her feeling…. well, cathartic, sort of. They left her appreciating story-telling, individual identity and left her with more questions and thoughts than when she had entered the cinema. They each were beautiful. Definitely.
Rose turned over in bed and turned off her lamp. She felt the softness of her pillow against her cheek and could picture her hair sprawled out over it. She smiled a little. “I bet I’d look really hot in a movie right now.”