Hoccleve Reflection

While reading Hoccleve’s complaint, I found it hard not to see his feelings of depression and anxiety reflect a very human experience, that can be reflected in what some people go through even in our time. It also seems like there are similar common themes in some texts that we read, where someone has these feelings and finds salvation through god, like in The Faerie Queene. There are also lines in the prologue that are reminiscent of the themes in The Green Knight. In the prologue, Hoccleve compares the changes seen during the season of autumn to the feelings in his heart. I think this could be his feelings of depression or the changes he felt when he was suffering from the mental illness he describes. He’s expressing some dark themes, and it seems his mindset and thinking are coming from a dark place. This is evident in lines 8-14 in the prologue. 

 However wealthy or lucky in life someone is, it will not last — they will lose it. Death will trample them down under foot: that will be everyone’s ending,

Hoccleve seems to be having similar thoughts about time and the futility of life as Gawain was having in the Green Knight. Gawain faced the Green Knight and had to learn to accept that nothing lasts, and Hoccleve seems to be going through that same sort of existential dread. Hoccleve then goes on to talk about the suffering he went through from the reactions of people around him. His friends don’t even want to associate with him, which again puts him in a dark place, evident in lines 141-147. 

 However wealthy or lucky in life someone is, it will not last — they will lose it. Death will trample them down under foot: that will be everyone’s ending,

He says he worked hard to put on a happy face, a front for what he was really going through. He tries to dismiss his feelings, telling himself that other people have it worse. I think It’s clear that people have been going through similar experiences throughout time, this was written in the 15th century and it’s content reflects the struggles people have with anxiety and depression today. The feelings of isolation, dismissing feelings, and trying to put on a front are very modern problems that people struggle with. And since this is the 15th century, he finds his salvation through God and thinks his illness has gone away completely, shown in lines 400-406 

He gave me a mind and He took it away when He saw how I used it wrongly, and gave it to me again just as He pleased. He allowed me to repent my sins and afterwards to be aware of his divinity, to do His bidding and to improve my sinful way of life

This is similar to the Faerie Queene. Red Cross faces Despair, and is only saved by faith or the church. People from this time worked their issues through with God, but who can say how effective this really was to the individual.

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