Importance Of Affirmation: Perceived Value Effect

2178 words - 9 pages

The phrase “perceived value” is often assigned to inanimate objects whose worth lies in the value a consumer assigns to the product. According to Adam Smith’s theory of “invisible hand”, rational individuals make decisions out of a desire to do what benefits themselves the most. Although this stimulates the economic market and benefits society as a whole, the application of this concept takes a negative toll on interpersonal relationships (Ulmer 256). When the consumer-object relationship is applied to human relationships, the accumulation of experiences and poor decisions that affect perceived value of one individual affects how that same individual will choose to treat the other. Rose Goldsen, Professor of Sociology at Cornell University, argues that “An individual bases his value on appearance, good behavior, bad behavior, and relationships” (42). These four areas directly build or destroy an individual’s self-esteem. The constant ranking of an individual that comes with daily competition influences his life through social, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects, which in turn, influence his output behaviors. Studies show that the damage to psyche begins in childhood (Cimini 13). Children innately yearn for affirmation. If a parent does not support and value his child, the child is more likely to live recklessly and desperately search for affirmation from the world. The extreme emotional behaviors lead to a lack of regard for moral code, poor treatment of others, and harm to the child. Societal flaws are paralleled in literature to act as foils of society. This concept is reflected in characters that represent caricatures of humanity in the novels Wuthering Heights, The White Tiger, and The Picture of Dorian Gray.
In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is abused as a child and, consequently, as an adult, he acts primarily out of fear and jealousy in his search for affirmation. Heathcliff has poor self-esteem that is rooted in the mistreatment that Hindley, as an extension of society, inflicts upon him from the moment is adopted into the Earnshaw household. Heathcliff is strong, healthy, and handsome, yet he is mistreated by society because of labels that are beyond his control (Hafley 203). Most abuse stems from his distinct identity as a “gypsy-boy” (Brontë 32), minority, and orphan. Heathcliff is aware of his low rung in society and seeks acceptance by fitting in. This is evident through Heathcliff’s statement, “I wish I had light hair and a fair skin, and was dressed, and behaved as well, and had a chance of being as rich as he will be!” (Brontë 56). After Catherine’s return from the Lintons’ house, Heathcliff begins to see himself in the light of society’s racial prejudice. This lowers the value that he assigns to himself. He has low-self esteem and seeks to change. He leaves a poor, uneducated boy and returns a rich and stoic businessman, who is well dressed and behaves with good manners. Heathcliff changes everything in his...

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