It Is Not Desirable To Judge Others By A Consistent Standard

Wooden Ruler

It is not easy- perhaps not even desirable- to judge other people by a consistent standard. Conduct obnoxious, even unbearable, in one person may be readily tolerated in another; apparently indispensable principles of behavior are in practice relaxed- not always with impunity- in the interests of those whose nature seems to demand an exceptional measure. That is one of the difficulties of committing human action to paper, a perplexity that really justifies the alterations of comedy with tragedy in Shakespearean drama: because some characters and some deeds (Uncle Giles’s, as I have mentioned) may be thought of only in terms appropriate to themselves, irrespective of their consequence. On the stage, however, masks are assumed with some regard to procedure: in everyday life, the participants act their parts without consideration either for suitability of scene or for the words spoken by the rest of the cast: the result is a general tendency for things to be brought to the level of farce even when the theme is serious enough. This disregard for the unities is something that cannot be circumvented in human life; though there are times when close observation reveals, one way or another, that matters may not have been so irreconcilable at the close of the performance as they may have appeared in the Second Act.

Jenkins (the narrator)

Book 1, Chapter 2

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