Famous Quotes Explained: « As one grows older, anger turns into sadness. », Act III, Scene 5, The Dead Queen, Montherlant, 1942.
Henry de Montherlant was a 20th-century French writer known for his diverse literary works, including theater. His play, the tragedy The Dead Queen, was published in 1942. It draws inspiration from the brutal beheading of Ines de Castro in 1355, the mistress of Pedro, Prince of Portugal, ordered by his father, King Alfonso IV. Montherlant’s tragedy juxtaposes the love of Ines and Pedro against the statecraft advocated by Pedro’s father (named Ferrante in the play), who wishes to marry his son to an Infanta of Navarre to counter Castile.
This quote, As one grows older, anger turns into sadness, appears toward the end of the play, in Act III, Scene 5, and is spoken by Ferrante, a seventy-year-old Pedro’s father, who is about to make the decision to have Ines de Castro, Pedro’s love, assassinated. It reflects a profound observation about how emotions evolve with age.
Montherlant suggests that as people age, their way of feeling and managing their emotions changes. Specifically, he highlights the transformation of anger into sadness. This idea suggests that older individuals may be less inclined to express their frustration or anger openly, instead choosing to internalize these emotions and experience them as sadness. This can be interpreted as a reflection on the emotional maturity that often accompanies aging. Older individuals tend to have more experience and perspective on situations, which can make them less likely to react with anger or impulsivity. Instead, they may feel a deeper sadness in the face of disappointing situations because they understand that they are unlikely to change.
As people grow older, they may also develop a greater acceptance of the limitations of life and inevitable circumstances. This can lead them to react differently to challenges and disappointments, choosing to approach them with a more resigned attitude and less inclination for confrontation. Thus, the passage of time can also lead individuals to reflect on their past and feel sadness about past mistakes, missed opportunities, or broken relationships. Anger may dissipate as these reflections lead to a more nuanced understanding of past events.
This quote can also remind us to be understanding toward elderly individuals who may experience complex and sometimes painful emotions. It underscores that sadness can result from many years of life, experiences, and losses, and it is important to show compassion to those going through this stage of life.
Montherlant’s quote evokes the transformation of emotions, particularly anger turning into sadness, as individuals age. It highlights emotional maturity, acceptance of life’s limits, and reflection on the past as contributing factors to this change. It also presents Montherlant’s pessimistic view of aging, as a long decline of passions.
As one grows older, anger turns into sadness
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