It’s interesting how something I read that has little or nothing to do with what I’m living or writing can change how I think. I was reading a book about Queen Isabella of England. She was a medieval British queen who was often called the She-Wolf of France (not in a nice way. People had a thing against strong women). She held power for only a few brief years, after which her lover was murdered. Having been in a loveless marriage for seventeen years and spending more then thirty years in “retirement” afterwards that period of time where she was free must have seemed so brief. In the middle of it did she think it would never end? That she could be free to love who she wanted, rule as she’d hoped, and never fear someone’s power over her? All of those ended abruptly in a coup that wrecked everything. She lost her money, her power, her unborn child and it’s father. The words of the poets have attributed this saying to her: Now, Mortimer, begins our tragedy*.
How many of us will begin our tragedy? Having survived storms I find myself terrified of enduring another one. I must live my life with the knowledge that every good thing that I receive or build can be lost in an instant. Yet if I keep that awareness of tribulation I risk souring the times when it’s not around. It’s one of the paradox’s of being human, knowledge mixed with action and inaction.
At the same time we struggle with reading about truly tragic characters. Yes they may experience dark times, but the end always needs to be a happily ever after. The problems is that I’m not sure what constitutes a happily ever after, and I’m really not sure that they’re the best thing for all our stories.
It’s a difficult world we live in. No human being makes it through unscathed. How that comes across in the stories we tell shows more about us then our characters.
*from the play Edward the Second by Christopher Marlowe.