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Joshua Yaldaei

Professor Mark Fusco

TESP 4: Critical Response Paper

5 October 2017

Sorrow can be as insignificant as red lights, eternally delaying one’s already unenjoyable

commute or it can be as severe as experiencing the end of one’s favorite show. Nevertheless,

without this fundamental emotion and reference point, it would be impossible to truly understand

the ecstasies that precious moments hold. This central theme of sorrow transcends millennia,

often appearing in the Bible as well as serving as the subject matter in the painting ​Ophelia​ by

Sir John Everett Millais and the song ​Amnesia ​by rock band, Five Seconds of Summer. Every

person has felt some form of sorrow; however, the evolving perspectives presented offer

valuable insights into the popular social and religious beliefs of a particular moment in history.

Even though the raw feeling of sorrow has endured throughout human history, ultimately the

methods employed to alleviate such distress have shifted into those that are indirect and linger.

One incident of despair occurred roughly thirty centuries ago, chronicled in 2 Samuel 11

when King David lusted, laid with, and impregnated the beautiful Bathsheba, only proceeding to

place her husband Uriah into the frontline of battle, where he died. One can only imagine the

deep regret and remorse that the faithful King David was burdened with when he realized the

horrible sins he committed against God. In the initial moments of understanding the effects of his

sinful actions, David was unquestionably filled with profound disappointment in himself, similar

to the reactions that most people experience. Shortly after, he felt compelled to write both Psalm

32 and 51 wherein lies the expression of his true feelings of regret and repentance as well as the
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forgiveness that the Lord showed to him. Consistent among numerous biblical passages, sorrow

is most deeply felt towards one (or He) whose soul is fully entrusted, followed by a contrasting

joy when the heaviness is lifted from their hearts.

Ophelia​, painted in 1851, illustrates the saddening depiction of Ophelia’s lifeless body

drowned in a river after picking flowers one peaceful afternoon. In the Shakespearean tragedy

Hamlet​ Ophelia, a young, naïve lover, was evidently unable to resolve her internal turmoils of

grief and madness, regarding her conflicting feelings of her love, Prince Hamlet, who killed her

father, Polonius. As she surrounded herself with the contrastingly flourishing nature in the

background, Ophelia experienced such an intense internal struggle that she jumped into the river

and drowned, without seeming to have the intention to fight for her survival. Painted with a

hopeless, lost look in her eyes forever gazing upwards towards heaven, the lovely Ophelia lies in

the stream with her hands positioned in such a way that suggests the acceptance of her fate.

Though obviously dramatized in the play ​Hamlet​, it appears that a growing number of people

live through heartbreaking conclusions of relationships. Offering the most modern viewpoint is

the song ​Amnesia ​as the lead singer, Luke Hemmings, explains the deep mental pain that he felt

after the unannounced, eye-opening separation from his girlfriend. This song is one of the few

that caused me to tear up as I intently listened the first time, for I could hear and consequently

feel the misery that existed within his heart. He sings about the heart-wrenching experience that

he underwent when he realized the illusion, that she did not reciprocate his love and passion in

their time together, proven by her indifference after their split. In this case, the emotional damage

persisted past the moment’s initial shock because the singer wishes to wake up with amnesia to

be able to forget about the painful thoughts of her that unrelentingly continue to populate his
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mind. Both artists of the painting and song desired a way to escape the heartache that came with

unsuccessful, overly invested relationships. A commonality with sorrow in more modern times

as well as the examples in the Bible is that the initial grief felt during the first moments remains

constant. The difference, however, that arises among ancient and modern cases of sorrow is in

the ways in which sorrow is dealt with. In the examples of the Bible provided, issues including

sorrow are resolved promptly, whereas the modern perspectives choose to allow the conflicts to

linger and possibly develop into more dangerous monsters.