Some days are so long. The heat seems to squelch us, the moisture seems torn out of the air--there's nothing left. And at the end of the day, the bills pile up higher; your hands may feel worn to the bone; and he darkness only offers a few moments of silence before the next long day's due to begin again.
There are so many works of hope and comfort, or love and loss. Not every story has a Romeo-and-Juliet style ending, but the surprise is sometimes worth it.
I remember quite clearly the circumstances upon which I first read The Necklace. It was a required course in World Literature, taught by one of my favorite teachers and authors. We'd already read Oedipus Rex and The Metamorphosis. We'd read James Joyce and we'd talked about epiphany.
How could a short story about a spoiled young woman possibly compare?
In the story, "Mathilde suffered ceaselessly, feeling herself born to enjoy all delicacies and all luxuries. She was distressed at the poverty of her dwelling, at the bareness of the walls, at the shabby chairs, the ugliness of the curtains. All those things, of which another woman of her rank would never even have been conscious, tortured her and made her angry." By the end of the story, her situation has changed dramatically. Unlike the romanticized version of A Little Princess, she and her husband struggle with the burden of a seemingly impossible loss. But, the anger and tortured envy is gone.
We wouldn't have wished for her experience... How could we? But, look at who she became? Was it worth it?
I've heard it said: Tragedy is a gift. We may find it anywhere.