On Smiles by A.G. Gardiner
In On Smiles by A.G. Gardiner we have the theme of happiness, trust, change and appearance. Taken from his Many Furrows collection the reader realises after reading the essay that Gardiner may be exploring the theme of happiness or rather the happiness one receives from seeing another person smile. For Gardiner there is also a difference between a natural smile and one that an individual forces. The natural smile will cheer up another person and make them forget their woes. While people have the ability to see through a forced smile. A smile that lacks the quality of trust. It is easier for an individual to trust a person who smiles naturally as they are able to disarm any criticism that the individual may have about the person’s character. It is as though a person with a natural smile is able to change how another person feels. By forcing a smile an individual is being deceitful and people can see this for themselves. A forced or fake smile leaves a person suspicious of the individual who is smiling and as such their guard will be up because they cannot trust the individual.
What is also interesting about the essay is the fact that Gardiner believes a smile comes from inwards. It may be reflected outwards but in reality it is something that comes from inside the person themselves. It is for this reason that a natural smile is more trusting and has the ability to disarm a person. It is also likely that this is the reason that Gardiner wishes that he could relive his life all over again. To be a new person as he may have the natural skepticism that comes with life and as such his smile may be no more than a grimace. Which would not be endearing to people. Gardiner also argues that the habitual smile is not pleasing to an individual as it lacks spontaneity. This may be significant as Gardner could be suggesting that those who smile permanently can not only be distrusted but they may also have something to hide. Attempting to disarm before conflict. A conflict which all parties may be aware of. If anything a constant smile would not only be annoying to Gardiner but it may also suggest that the individual is hiding something.
The importance of a smile can also not be underestimated particularly if one is a politician. With Gardiner quoting the success of Theodore Roosevelt as an example. Roosevelt’s smile according to Gardiner may have helped him to be successful. The smile bringing a sense of ease to those who observed it. A matter that would be important for a politician. Should a politician never smile there is every chance that the electorate will not vote for him or her and as such the politician will be forced to look for another career. One that will suit their appearance. A good smile in Gardiner’s opinion will also carry a man or woman a long way. One can go from rags to riches by a simple ability to have a smile that is contagious. By making another person smile not only are you making them happy but you are also showing them that you are not a threat in anyway. Which would hinder a person’s passage through life. To move forward in life one has to be trusted and a good smile will go a long way in helping an individual progress through life.
In reality a good, natural smile will help an individual to change another person’s viewpoint of them. A person will forget why they disliked the individual and matters will be resolved more quickly should there be any conflict between either party. The example of Rufus Isaacs is also interesting as he appears to have the juries in front of him in the palm of his hand (and on the side of his client). Isaacs radiates confidence but not overtly so. He smiles enough to disarm others while at the same time keeping his focus on his client. All by having a natural and confident smile. While others who force their smile or permanently smile are deemed to be less trustworthy. An issue which would be of great importance to a lawyer. If anything Gardiner may be suggesting that those who smile naturally and confidently have an easier time than those who might force a smile. An individual can see through another person’s smile and if it is honest and engaging than that individual is won over for the time being. It is probably for this reason that Gardiner wishes he could be born all over again. To learn in a natural way how to smile and to beam confidence and to be able to disengage others should he need to.