Ok, I'm an English major. I admit it.
There are a few things that I've learned about life in my time as an English major. First: English majors are an interesting group of humans. We analyze literature and write about it and no one seems to understand why, but once you learn these skills you can't seem to stop. Second: Despite being misunderstood, analyzing literature can actually be quite helpful (and fun!).
I had to read Hamlet recently. Now, Shakespeare can be a challenge, even for an English major, but I learned some pretty important stuff about myself, and everyone else, from studying this play, so I thought I'd share my findings.
Hamlet is an unfortunate prince who finds out from a ghost that his uncle killed his father. This information causes Hamlet to go into deep thought about, well, everything. "What's so great about humans? Is death better? What is fidelity anyway? Should I kill my uncle?" are just a few of the things Hamlet contemplates. He also spends much of the play acting a little crazy and telling his girlfriend to get to a nunnery. In the end Hamlet, his girlfriend, his uncle/step-dad, his mother, his girlfriend's father, and his girlfriend's brother all die (also Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but nobody really thinks about those two).
What do people think Hamlet's problem is? Well, he thinks too much. He hesitates to act. And people die because of it (sort of).
Now, I don't have any big moral issues to argue with myself about. I'm not trying to decide if it's a good idea to kill my uncle or if I think ghosts are real. I have, however, been hesitating over some pretty important decisions. I know for a fact that I've thought too much about these choices. How do I know that? Well, there has literally been some crying and rocking back and forth on the floor about these things going on. The truth is that I've known what I needed to do all along, I've just been putting it off trying to decide if it's really the right thing. So I had a similar problem to Hamlet. I was thinking more than I was acting (a lot more in fact), but after seeing my actions reflected so well in this play I came to realize that my hesitation was silly, my freak outs were pointless, and my choices were good ones. I just needed to act, and stop thinking about it.
I guess there are two points to this post. First: Once you know what you've got to do, stop thinking about it. You'll only mess yourself up with too much thinking. Second: Analyzing plays and books and poems can teach us about ourselves and help us live our lives more effectively. So don't sit around wondering why English majors only read books all the time, it's more productive than you might think.
Happy thought of the day? Read a book. You might learn something!