Nature V.S. Nurture

When you’re born, you’re given a mixture of your parents physical features. You may be born with your mother’s eyes, and your fathers nose, for example. However, your personality and talents may be acquired from the environment around you. The debate between nature v.s. nurture has been one of the longest running arguments known to man. We have been able to learn that both our inherited and acquired traits play important roles in human development; but, it’s been inconclusive which one is of more power. The nature aspect of human development, tells us of our origins — more commonly known as, our “animal instincts”. The theory of nature states that our traits are hereditary, including abstract traits like sexuality, aggression, and our likes and dislikes. Recent studies have concluded that disorders and conditions such as schizophrenia, depression, and alcoholism can be inherited as well. The nurture aspect on the other hand, states that many of our traits are acquired through experiences in our lives. This means that nurturing can mold and condition people into acquiring new behaviours. Though there is no true answer to this debate at the moment, by looking at stories such as I Stand Here Ironing by Tillie Olson, we can conclude that nurture can affect human development more than nature.

In the short story, I Stand Here Ironing by Tillie Olsen, Emily’s behaviour is seen to be brought up by nurture more than nature. From the beginning, Emily’s mother had many struggles in her life that kept her from properly taking care of Emily. Examples of this may include but not limited to, her divorce, giving birth to more children, and having multiple jobs. She sent Emily away to homes on multiple occasions, which would affect her traits with every new place she stayed in. As her relationship with her mother distanced, her personality began to change drastically. The effect of neglect shaped Emily into becoming very introverted, depressed, and frail. Because, Emily was neglected from such a young age, she had no time to develop her possible hereditary traits. She was left to bury her natural personality and succumb to a very negative one. When she started to enjoy the art of comedy however, her true self began to blossom. Emily became more healthy, confident, and happy through her success. Emily’s mother is seen to be ignorant since she blames Emily’s past on the outside world, and not on her parenting. She is right to an extent since these outside events were not in her control, but, there is never an excuse for being a bad parent. Through this story, we can conclude that nurture can be more powerful than nature. If immediately given negative experiences in childhood, many people will introvert themselves to try and stop further conflicts that may arise. Emily never learned what was motherly love, so that may be why she kept to her self since she didn’t know how to act. If Emily were to be given attention from her mother, she would have probably been a very extroverted and positive girl. But, if she were to take that path, maybe she would have never entered into the world of comedy, and never found her real passion.

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