“What do these texts suggest to you about the nature of human longing and how an individual’s life is shaped by such dreams?”
The Nightingale -Kristen Hannah
In life, it is inevitable that an individual will be faced with the human desire for change. However, the feeling of human desire is nothing but motivation. They could desire to be healthier, but the desire will not make them run. Since the desire is nothing but a dream to achieve, the individual must take action towards their desire in order to accomplish anything. For some, this task may be harder to achieve than others, and for others, the action is handicapped by personal shame or doubt. This is the essential idea presented in the excerpt from The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah, as it shows an individual facing the end of their life, left with the human desire to reconcile with her past and make her true self known. Through the text, Hannah shows the motivational nature of human desire that convinces an individual to face the conflict of their dreams versus their current situation. However, they won’t follow their dreams until the issue of shame for their current situation has been resolved.
The excerpt from The Nightingale follows an old mother faced with the end of her life, packing up to move for her son’s sake. At the beginning of the piece she mentions the discontent of her current situation mentioning that she wants to be forgiven by the people she loved and lost even though she knows she can’t because she knows she won’t see them again. When packing up to leave, she only wants one item: a suitcase with baby memorabilia, journals, postcards, and an old identity war card with the name “Juliette Gervaise”. She starts crying and mentions that “she’d like to be known”, even though her current life is completely different from her past life. She also mentions that she cannot accomplish this desire as it “embarrasses and shames her”. It is only after her son mentions her true name, “Juliette”, that she begins to reconcile and recollect memories of her old life. The individual is faced with the human desire to have a true connection with herself and her son, indicated by the fact she insisted on taking her trunk (her last connection to her past self) with her. However, she is met with the constrictions of her own shame for hiding her past from her son and rejecting it from herself. This constriction is only released when her son says her real name, shocking her into remembering her past life. This excerpt shows evidence of how an individual will be unable to follow their desire to change because of the shame they have of their current situation. It also shows how this conflict of dreams versus shame will hold an individual back from accomplishing anything towards their dreams, instead of leaving it until they are forced to resolve it under the pressure of death and resolve.
The human desire to change is one that I have an abundance of. I go through my day to day, feeling the implications of how it would be to be more proactive, more social, or more organized. However, I have a constant shortage of actually doing anything about them. This leads me to feel a great sense of melancholy, as I am constantly faced with what life could be, but I am also reminded of what my life is due to my unwillingness to change. The unwillingness stems from the growing shame I feel from not pursuing any of my desires, and it is this shame that beats me down so I cannot chase any of my dreams. This is another example of how an individual can be affected by their own desires, showing that if they let shame keep them from pursuing any of their dreams, they will be faced with great sadness of what their life can be, further increasing the amount of shame felt.
In today’s society, everyone is faced with themselves in a mirror. In this mirror, they only see what they wish they could be. However, if the individual wants to achieve what they see in the mirror, they must take actions to change in order to become that ideal image of themselves. However, when they are faced with the reality of what they really look like, they are left with a shame that prohibits them from taking these actions. It is only until they choose to ignore this shame and actually work towards a better life that an individual will be able to achieve their dreams. If they do not, they face an escalating feeling of shame, which will eventually lead to sadness and disappointment from not fulfilling their dreams.