…the role emotional courage plays when an individual experiences separation.
Separation. It is something that every human on this earth will experience. Individuals may experience separation from a loved one such as a parent or a sibling. During these hard times, one must utilize their emotional courage to push through the pain and grief they experience or they risk being consumed by it. The amount of emotional courage that one possesses can be characterized as the amount of strength an individual possesses when faced with immense pain and grief. The level of this strength can make all of the difference in how easily one may move past a separation. When an individual does not have a strong sense of emotional courage it may cause them to be reliant on others to supply them with the ability to deal with pain and grief. This strength gained from others works only as a shield to hide one’s own lack of emotional courage. Without that shield, one may risk losing their sanity. William Shakespeare explores this idea through the character of Ophelia in his play Hamlet. After Ophelia’s father asks her to end her relationship with Hamlet she is left to rely on her father for the emotional courage to deal with the separation from the man she loved. However, once her father dies at the hands of Hamlet she is left unable to fight the grief that threatened to drown her. Ophelia’s situation illustrates how when an individual lacks emotional courage of their own it can cause them to be reliant on another individual for emotional courage. Thus separation from that individual may drive them to madness due to the fact that they do not possess the emotional courage to overcome it.
Individuals who lack emotional courage of their own may look to others to supply them with the courage they need. At the beginning of the play, it is revealed that Hamlet and Ophelia have been in a secret relationship which causes Ophelia’s father, Polonius, to instruct her to break things off with Hamlet. Ophelia does not want to do this and argues with her father but ultimately gives in and obeys him when she says “ I shall obey my lord”. Ophelia does not possess the courage to end her relationship with the man she loves but finds her courage to cut off her relationship with Hamlet in her father Polonius because she respects and loves him. In this scene we see Ophelia wrestle with her own wants and what her father wants of her, but she ultimately knows that she must listen to her father. The only way that she could manage the grief and pain she felt to have to lose Hamlet was to look to her father who would give her the courage to stand her ground even when Hamlet was not being considerate of Ophelia’s feelings. Polonius acted like a raft that kept Ophelia afloat in the ocean of pain and grief she was in danger of being consumed by. Without Polonius, Ophelia could have been unable to deal with the loss of Hamlet and may not have even been able to end her relationship with him. Ophelia’s reliance on her father during a time when she needed emotional courage exhibits how individuals who lack emotional courage of their own may use others to deal with their feelings of pain and grief. With her father being the only thing keeping Ophelia afloat losing him could mean drowning in the grief.
When Ophelia is separated from her father who she was reliant upon for emotional courage she is left with the difficult emotions she is faced with. In the play, Polonius is murdered by Hamlet, the man that she loves, and Ophelia is left to wrestle with the loss that she feels without the emotional courage that she acquired from her father. Ophelia’s feelings of grief multiply when she is separated from her father, especially since the man who killed him was the man that she loved. This experience of separation is far worse than she felt whilst ending her relationship with Hamlet due to the fact that she no longer has any emotional courage from her father. All emotional courage she had was lost because she was separated from the person who supplied her with that strength. She must go through more pain without any emotional courage of her own. The life raft that was Polonius is now gone and the waves of grief and pain threaten to consume her. She must now face her pain and grief alone. Ophelia’s separation from her father exhibits how individuals who are separated from someone they are reliant upon for emotional courage can render them unable to deal with the pain they may feel during said separation.
Individuals who experience a significant separation may be driven to madness if they do not possess the emotional courage to handle the pain and grief they experience. When Ophelia finds out that her father was killed by Hamlet she was driven to madness. This is shown in the scene where Ophelia is handing out flowers and talking to the queen. Ophelia’s madness is portrayed in how she sings and talks of flowers. Ophelia has completely lost her sense of stability and has completely changed in how she acts. Ophelia used to be obedient and well mannered while now she is untamed and wild. She did not have the emotional courage to deal with another loss thus causing her to become mad. Because Ophelia never had any emotional courage of her own and was reliant on her father to be emotionally strong, she simply was unable to defend herself against the spur of chaotic emotions she was overcome with. Polonius used to act as a life raft for Ophelia causing her to be able to navigate grief but now that Polonius is gone the gentle and courageless Ophelia has nothing to defend her from the wave of pain she is hit with. Drowning in a river of pain and helpless against the surge of grief Ophelia has nothing to do but give up. This lack of emotional courage ultimately leads to her death. Ophelia is the perfect example of how an individual who lacks their own emotional courage can be driven to madness due to their inability to deal with the grief and pain experienced during a separation.
Ophelia’s story possesses great pain and grief starting with the loss of the man that she loved and then the loss of a father who she relied upon. Ophelia did not possess the emotional courage to manage the grief that she was faced with after the death of her father and thus was driven to madness. Ophelia’s story proves how when one has a lack of emotional courage causing them to be reliant on another individual for emotional courage a separation from that individual may drive them to madness due to the fact that they do not possess the emotional courage to overcome it. Emotional courage is needed in order to deal with a separation and it is important as individuals that one possesses the strength and courage needed to face pain in grief and is not reliant on others for this courage or as it did Ophelia one may find themselves drowned in grief.