Slings and Arrows

I was reading Hamlet this morning.  It’s been a while.  I think I understand him better, now.  He was grieving.  That’s a very scary, lonely, confusing thing.  I find it difficult to articulate what I am feeling, too.  Is it better to “suffer the slings and arrow of outrageous fortune?”  To just let it all wash over you and roll you around and just feel it?  Or is it better to “take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?”  Fight against it, deny it, “rage against the dying of the light?”  Fighting it certainly doesn’t end the grief.  Depression sinks in no matter what you do. Grief is a very lonely path, and sometimes nothing and no one can help you.

Shakespeare lost a son too, you know.  I think his first hand knowledge is very apparent.  Hamlet is urged to “cast your nighted color off and let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.”  Why is everyone so quick to push the bereaved to stop grieving?  Stop wearing black!  Stop being sad!  Cheer up and get back to normal!  How can you do that?  How do you paste your heart back together after it’s gone through the shredder?  It can’t be done!  Pieces are missing.  Sorry if our sadness casts a shaddow and makes everyone uncomfortable but you can’t just wave a magic wand and make it go away.  How many months and years did we spend loving?  A lifetime?  Then how can we set that aside in just a few short months, and go on as we did before?  How could anyone expect Hamlet to dance at his mother’s wedding when it followed so quickly upon the heals of his father’s funeral?  How can I, in this short time, set aside the fact that someone violently took the lives of all my boys?  Impossible.

Hamlet isn’t mad at all.  Hamlet is coping, and managing pretty well with such a rotten support system.  I can understand Hamlet.  And Ophelia and Laertes as well.  I just can’t understand the king.  When someone in your own family can do such a thing, the world is turned upside down.  Brothers should love each other.  Mothers should love their children and wives their husbands.  Little boys should be safe in their own beds.  This is such a basic concept, and part of what makes us human.  What happens to our world view when this is all cast aside for gain?  Shakespeare didn’t know.  Neither do I.

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One Response to Slings and Arrows

  1. pal0216 says:


    This is so eloquently written. I have never read Hamlet so I am only a bit familiar with the theme or plot. I agree with you about how people seem to expect you to just ‘move on’ so quickly after a tragedy. The only way I can relate to this is when my grandfather died and my grandmother wore all black for an entire year. I asked her once why she kept wearing black and she told me she was in a period of mourning and that period of mourning was to last one year. After the year was finished then she would think about wearing bright colors again.

    People just don’t seem to want to take the time to grieve anymore and certainly don’t want to let people see you grieve. I truly believe we live in a culture filled with a lack of feeling.

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