I was intrigued by our discussion in class concerning the rebellion against things being nailed down in “The Mark on the Wall.” Upon rereading the story I was drawn toward Woolf’s possibilities for what she might gain from finding out the true identity of the mark on the wall…
“Knowledge? Matter for further speculation?”
Knowledge, yes – she would then know beyond a shadow of a doubt what the mark is. However, that knowledge would destroy the possibility of further speculation. Once you are certain of a thing’s identity why on Earth would you continue to speculate about it? There would be nothing to speculate at that point.
Does this suggest that knowledge is actually the death of creative thing? Imagine I were to view a glass bowl and then speculate about its creator. I envision a wirey old man laboring beside a blazing furnace. I watch as he slowly heats the glass in order to shape it… I can speculate on all the work and people involved in the creation of that glass. However, if someone were to tell me that the bowl was made by a machine that produced a thousand more identical bowls then all the romance is gone. There is nothing more to be known and therefore nothing more for me to think about. The idea is simple: having all knowledge of something takes away all its possibilities.
The narrator seems to realize that to know for certain the identity of the mark will take all the intrigue away and end her thought process. As it so happens, she was exactly right. The moment the mark is identified as a snail is the final line of the story. She has knowledge of what the mark is and, like this blog entry, there is nothing left to say.