“Emotions are like waves. You cannot stop them from coming but you candecide which ones to surf”.
Asdescribed in this quote, we cannot delete our emotions but if we learn to surfthe waves of our emotions and manage our thoughts and feel our feelings, wewill be able to deal better with the difficult situations in life. Grief is theconflicting and strong emotion caused by the end of or change in a familiarpattern of behaviour. Eachindividual deals with grief in very different ways.
In Alice Sebold’s “The LovelyBones” and William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, the main theme andemotion portrayed throughout the two works is grief with the intent of revenge. In Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones”, theSalmon family find it difficult to grieve the murder of their daughter and sisterSusie Salmon and hope to bring justice for her death. In William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”,the protagonist Hamlet is in the process of grieving the death of his fatherand is planning a revenge plot against the person who murdered his father toavenge his death. In “TheLovely Bones” and “Hamlet”, both works show similaritiesin how the characters deal with the emotions of grief and seeking revengethroughout the journey of their lives. “My name is Salmon, likethe fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered” (Sebold.
1.5). Alice Sebold’s thrilling novel isabout the murder of fourteen year old Susie Salmon who is adjusting to life inheaven. Throughout the novel, the theme of grief is evident in both the storyline and characters. Susie Salmon has a hardtime understanding that she is dead and she grieves because she is not part ofthe world anymore. She watches over peopletalking about her murder, her murderer hiding from police and her familygrieving her sudden death.
In the end, Susierealizes that life on earth continues even though she is dead and cannot live anymore. The theme of grief is portrayed in different ways throughout the book by theSalmon family as they mourn the loss of Susie. The Salmon family are in thegrieving process while they search for answers and try to figure out who isSusie’s murderer. The Salmon parents find it difficult to go on with lifewithout their daughter and find it challenging to accept their loss coping withgrief differently. Jack Salmon, Susie’s father, is so preoccupied with feeling guiltyand helpless that he forgets to love his living children, Lindsey and Buckley. Jack’sfocus was to avenge Susie’s death by finding her killer.
Abigail Salmon,Susie’s mother, deals with grief by denial and not wanting to face Susie’s death.She pulls away from her family and leaves them. Another character that finds itdifficult to accept Susie’s death is Lindsey Salmon. Lindsey is Susie’s younger sister. Lindsey was very distraught to hear that hersister had been murdered. She did notspeak to anyone for a while and found it hard to grieve for her sister becauseshe felt that her sister’s death wasn’t real. Throughout the book, Lindsey gained her strength back and wanted tobring justice for her sister’s death by trying to find the murderer.
Lindsey was convinced that their next door neighbourMr. Harvey was the one who murdered Susie. She spoke to her parents and police about her feelings but theydisregarded her accusations for lack of evidence. To prove this, Lindsey brokeinto Mr. Harvey’s house to look for any evidence to convict him of thecrime. While searching through hisbelongings Lindsey found a book with photos of past women and girls he murderedand Susie’s photo was in the book with a piece of her hair. Lindsey showed her parents the book and gavethe evidence to the police. After this, Mr.
Harvey disappeared and later wefind out that he had died by slipping off a cliff after a falling icicle hitshim. Earlier in the novel Susie foreshadowed this event by stating “In heaven, “How to Commit thePerfect Murder” was an old game. I always chose the icicle: the weaponmelts away”.
(Sebold.139). The Salmon family felt a sigh of relieve whenMr.
Harvey was killed because his death brought justice and avenged the deathof their daughter and sister. As well,Susie was relieved with his death because she was able to rest in peace and notbe haunted by the nightmares of her murderer. The death of a family member is a hardtime for people and grief affects everyone in different ways. In WilliamShakespeare’s tragedy “Hamlet”, grief is a common theme felt by thecharacters from the beginning of the play and each character reacts differentlyto it. The play, “Hamlet” is the journey of Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark,who returns home after hearing that hisfather had been murdered. Hamlet isdevastated that his father is gone and grieves his father’s loss badly. He shows how much sorrow he feels inside bystating ” For they are the actions that a man mightplay, But I have that within which passes show, These but the trappings and thesuits of woe.” (Hamlet 1.
2.84-86). When Hamletreturned home, he was shocked to find out that his mother remarried his uncleClaudius, his father’s brother. Hamletwas disgusted by his mother’s decision to marry Claudius and thought therelationship between the two was incest.
Throughout Hamlet’s stay in Denmark, the ghost of his dead father appearsto him and tells him that he was murdered by Claudius. This causes Hamlet tobecome crazy and behave irrationally. As Hamlet realizes all the eventshappening in his life he states “O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt, Thaw and resolve itself into a dew, Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God, God, How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable. Seem to me all the uses of this world”(Hamlet1.2 133-138). Hamlet uses his fakeacting madness to distract people while he plans out a revenge plot againstClaudius in order to avenge his father’s death.
Hamlet’s grief startedhis plan for revenge and goal to kill Claudius hoping that this would help himget over his father’s death. Hamlet also realizes that he is alone in his griefbecause he gets no comfort from his mother, Queen Gertrude. Queen Gertrude tellsHamlet that death is part of life and does not feel sorry with her son andtells him, “Thou know’st ’tis common – all that lives must die ..
Queen Gertrude chose to deal with death and grief by not dealing withit and moved on by marrying Hamlet’s uncle. This shows that she did not seem tocare about her husband’s death. In contrast,Ophelia feels grief for Hamlet because shethinks that Hamlet has become mad and completely lost his sanity after hisfather’s death causing him to become distant from her. Ophelia believes that Hamlet has lost hissanity when he lashes out and states “He took me by the wrist and held mehard. Then goes he to the length of allhis arm, And, with his other hand thuso’er his brow, He falls to such perusalof my face As he would draw it. Longstayed he so. At last, a little shakingof mine arm, And thrice his head thuswaving up and down”(Hamlet 2.
1 87-94). Later in theplay Ophelia goes crazy after her own father’s death. She had to deal with her father’s death and deal with the fact that her love,Hamlet, killed her father because he had also gone mad. In the end, Ophelia’s grief took over her andalso caused her death by her falling from a tree believed to have been suicide. The theme of grief is evidentbetween the two works “Lovely Bones” and “Hamlet”. Grief is a common themein these two tragedies due to the constant sense of death throughout them. There are both similarities and differences in eachwork on how the characters react to grief in their life situations.
The first similarity between the two works isthat grief is the tragic result of a loss of a close family member through theviolent act of murder. Both King Hamletand Susie Salmon were killed. Secondly, some characters in both works reactsimilarly to grief. This is seen through the way Jack Salmon, AbigailSalmon, Hamlet and Queen Gertrude react to death.
Jack Salmon and Hamlet experienced anger anddifficulty dealing with their loss. Both were devastated and showed emotionaloutbursts. Abigail Salmon and Queen Gertrude experienced denial and chose tonot deal with grief. Abigail abandoned her family and Queen Gertrude moved onwith her life marrying Claudius. Another similarity between the two works isthat grief starts a mission of revenge. Jack Salmon and Hamlet wanted to avengethe death of their loved one by seeking revenge on their killers. They were obsessedwith this mission and were committed to the same outcome.
Aside from the similarities between the works, the maindifference between the two works is the way that the murderers were killed. Thegrief felt by Jack and Hamlet impacted their actions throughout the story.Hamlet grieves throughout the play and takes action by dealing with threerevenge plots to seek revenge for his father’s death. Hamlet kills themurderer, Claudius, and two other characters Polonius,and Laertes. On the other hand, Jack was frustrated throughout the storybecause he knew the truth of his daughter’s murderer and could not do anything.Jack believed that the police were not doing enough to find the murderer. Ironically,the murderer was killed by slipping off a cliff after a falling icicle hit himwhile trying to capture another victim.
In “The Lovely Bones” and “Hamlet”, both works showsimilarities in how the characters deal with the emotions of grief and seekrevenge throughout the journey of their lives. In Alice Sebold’s, “The LovelyBones”, the Salmon family wanted revenge and justice against the murdererwho was their neighbour Mr. Harvey. Atthe end of the novel Mr. Harvey did die bringing the family closure. Also, the victim Susie Salmon was able torest peacefully in heaven knowing that her murderer could no longer harm moreinnocent girls or haunt her nightmares.
In William Shakespeare’s, “Hamlet”, Hamlet wanted to avenge his father’s death bykilling Claudius who murdered his father. Throughout the play, Hamlet planned his revenge plot against Claudiuswhile distracting people that he had lost his sanity after losing his father. Later, Hamlet killed Claudius with a poisonedsword and made him drink a glass of poisoned wine for the death of his father. After knowing that Claudius was dead, Hamletwas relieved that he had avenged his father’s death and that his father’s soulmay rest in peace. All characters in “LovelyBones” and “Hamlet” may be different but they are all connectedand similar to the emotion of grief.
Grief is difficult to avoid but ifwe learn to surf the waves of our emotions and manage our thoughts and feel ourfeelings, we will be able to deal better with the difficult situations in life.