In general society, people are extremely shallow and are attracted to others physically instead of emotionally. The outward appearance of someone has more meaning to the human eye than one’s inner beauty, unfortunately. Khalil Gibran’s “On Beauty” chapter in his novel, The Prophet, discusses many of his idealistic views on beauty. Written in 1923, The Prophet has many aspects that still apply today, but also some that do not. Idealistically, people should search for inner beauty when seeking a significant other rather than outer beauty; but realistically people do not.
Gibran speaks mostly of how beauty is humbleness and kindness: he does not speak of outer appeal. He uses a lot of imagery, metaphors, and similes to visually show the readers how beautiful and important he thinks the soul is. Khalil Gibran seems to have idealistic views on the ideas of what beauty is, not realistic views compared to today’s time and even his own time. In Gibran’s time, all the women were beginning to rebel. They all began to wear shorter skirts, tight corsets, and pants; they also cut their hair into a ‘bob,’ the blunt, chin-length hair.
The girls also began to wear cosmetics to attract older boys. They became sex symbols to men and icons to women; that is when it started becoming truly insignificant whether one had a good personality or not. Gibran did not interpret the 1920s views the same way others did; he repeatedly used imagery to convey that beauty was indeed one’s soul rather than one’s outer shell. In Beauty In history, the author defines a human’s physical beauty in more direct terms: “The beautiful are those who are immediately exciting to almost all of the opposite sex. ” (Arthur Marwick).
Being that Beauty in History was based on the women of the early 1920s, this proves that even in Khalil Gibran’s time, beauty was basically defined by how attractive one was to the eye. Although Gibran’s ideas were ideal, sadly they were not real in his time or today’s. For the first two decades of the 20th century, many of the attitudes towards beauty associated with the 19th century remained. In the Victorian society, it was considered a woman’s duty to make herself beautiful to attract men to her. No one spoke of inner beauty simply because the majority thought it was irrelevant.
As mentioned, Gibran does not speak of outer appeal in “On Beauty,” he uses imagery to capture what beauty is in his opinion. Gibran thinks that beauty cannot be found unless one is beautiful themselves; one must decide to and try to be beautiful inside: “Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide” (The Prophet). He explains through imagery that one cannot find inner beauty, unless one them self practices inner beauty and has someone equally beautiful guiding them. In any case, to society beauty is one’s outer appeal and one does not need guiding, they need to simply be “pretty.
Equally important, Gibran states, “Beauty is kind and gentle. Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us” (The Prophet). The author tells the readers that a beautiful person is a humble person, shy of their own success, walking among average people as one. Although this is an important aspect of beauty in a person, it is not the only type of beauty nor is it relevant to society. Before one learns the inside of a person, they must see the appearance of the individual. Therefore, Gibran’s claims are incorrect when related to classic or modern society.
In another aspect of this novel, Gibran explains through metaphors that beauty only comes from within. For example, Gibran feels that beauty is, “not the image you would see nor the song you would hear” (The Prophet). The author uses a metaphor to portray the idea that beauty does not have anything to do with appearance, but more with one’s inner personality. He is emphasizing that beauty is not something visual or hearable. Beauty is something one just has; it is within them, Gibran is explaining. In this day and age, people are visual with the opposite sex rather than mental.
Most people are attracted by sex appeal and not personality, although personality is idealistically more important. Equally significant, the author speaks of beauty being life and the reader being represented as life and its veil. Gibran claims, “Beauty is life when life unveils her holy face. But you are life and you are the veil” (The Prophet). By this, Gibran is telling the readers that they are beautiful only when they unmask their true inner-selves. While Gibran’s view is idealistic, in reality, one’s “inner-self” does not shine more than one’s appearance, especially the way society works.
In society, people judge people based on their outer appearance, whether it is their beauty, hair, clothing, or accessories, rather than their inner-self. In spite of, Gibran discusses how beauty is in our spirit. Gibran reveals more idealistic views of his own: “Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit” (The Prophet). The author claims in the phrase above that beauty is in our spirits and speaks to us. While this may be true, again that is not all beauty is realistically, it comes from within, but more significantly, realistically it is our face and body.
When a person from the opposite sex sees someone, they do not immediately discover the inner-self of that person, they visualize judging if the individual is attractive or not; they judge on how skinny the individual is and how pretty their face is. Gibran does not see the outer aspect of beauty and the reality of it. He speaks of the inner repeatedly with no realism incorporated: “A heart enflamed and a soul enchanted” (The Prophet). With all that Gibran has been saying about inner beauty, he now states that beauty is a heart grown huge and a delighted soul.
Realistically, in today’s society a huge heart and a pure soul will not get one far. Johnathon McWebber wrote, “In society, it is not how genuinely big your heart is that people care about, it is how beautiful your face is” (McWebber). McWebber basically explains that society, unfortunately can care less about who one truly is inside, but only on what one looks like outside. In short, idealistically everyone wants to live in a world where the soul is all that counts, unfortunately, society was not developed that way. All of Gibran’s idealistic views on what beauty is, is wished for, but realistically untrue.
In the 1920s women were nothing more than sex symbols; no one cared, especially not men, how beautiful you were inside. Gibran’s views on inner-beauty are unjustified; he only uses his own views on beauty, not society’s. Classic and modern societies are almost exactly the same when related to what beauty is; they are both shallow. It has become a trend to only seek the outer sex appeal rather than the soft innocent inner beauty. If we research on the Internet what “beauty” is, the truth is then revealed; it takes us inside society.