Grief, How it Blinds Us!

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

Hamlet, a play by William Shakespeare, that I consider one of the greatest because it has so deeply touched my life.

There are so many interpretations to aspects of this play, but when reading it through the lens of a "grief," we see a young man, the heir to the throne, grieving the death of his father, the king (of the same name). His father was clearly a person that young Hamlet adored and idolized.

Yet, in the context of this, we see that his grief isn't solely because of the death of his father, but also because of his mother's hasty marriage . In his first soliloquy, we see evidence of his grief, but we also see it is more directed at his mother's decision to remarry her previous husbands brother, young Hamlet's uncle.

Hamlet says:

O, that this too too solid flesh would melt

Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!

Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd

His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!

How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,

Seem to me all the uses of this world!

Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,

That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature

Possess it merely. That it should come to this!

But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:

So excellent a king; that was, to this,

Hyperion to a satyr;


In his mind, Hamlet clearly has notions of killing himself, but won't, for fear of God's retribution against such a "sin" ("O....that the Everlasting [God] had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter [suicide]")

But it is his mother's marriage that seems to be more the reason for grief ("But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two: So excellent a king [Hamlet's father]; that was, to this ["this" being said in derision], Hyperion [God] to a satyr [partially human beast].

Hamlet is blind in his grief, and he is unable to empathize with his mother, especially if what he says is true, that his father was like a God and his uncle barely human.

But how would Hamlet's mother be feeling?

It is easy to think of her as a non-person, without true feelings. She is hardly two-dimensional as a character because though she loves her son, as any good mother would, we do not see that she too is suffering from devastating grief.

Her decision to marry was not one of ambition. She did not marry Claudius the Satyr because she wanted to be Queen--she was already Queen. She married Claudius out of desire to satiate her grief, her loneliness, and her own despair.

It appears Hamlet is unwilling to quit grieving his father, and when he looks at his mother and her wedding, he believes she is just moving on, and is inflamed with lust for the younger man, as a woman that is frail and cannot manage her own fears. He does not stop to consider that she is also grieving, and trying to cope, which one must argue, also shows her inability to empathize with Hamlet.

Our strong emotions blind us.

When we are in a heightened emotional state, our reptilian brains are in full swing and we are unable to see how and why others are making the decisions that they are. The recent events in U.S.A. are the clearest evidence of such thinking.

There are intense emotions on both sides of the political spectrum when it comes to Trump and anyone who opposes him. I would personally argue, that Trump spends most of his time in his reptilian brain, and seldom allows the rational/logical part to reign supreme, but that is neither here nor there.

I'm more interested in the people and their vote. There is so much emotion involved, that the two sides have become so diametrically opposed, they cannot see that they are all Americans. Each side believes that the other does not have the best interests of the country at heart, and they too are American. Their emotion blinds them, so much so, they see fellows as enemies.

I've had to do some of my own introspection in regards to this. Politically, I am a fiscal conservative, but socially progressive. In essence, I believe in the capitalist notion of competition. I think competition creates the best ideas, and I think the best ideas should be rewarded by the marketplace. (I'll post some time in the future what that is).

However, as a social progressive (I believe in climate change, I believe in LGBTQ+ rights to marriage and equal standing in society, so they are not prejudiced against), I believe that the world can be more equal than it is. I think people are still judged by their sexual orientation, race, and gender, and that needs to stop.

But when it comes to Justin Trudeau, my reptilian brain refuses to accept him as a good Prime Minister. I see him as a spoiled juvenile that thinks he is smarter than everyone else, but in reality is so privileged people have cowed before him, allowing him to delude himself. My repulsion of him, has blinded me to the good things he has done.

So, as people that are guided by our emotion, let's take a step back and try to weigh things in a rational way, so as best to promote peace and acceptance in our world.

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