Homework Help

In his book, does Burton specificly address the anger or aggression found in man? Via...

user profile pic

other-e | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted March 25, 2012 at 1:17 AM via web

dislike 1 like

In his book, does Burton specificly address the anger or aggression found in man? 

Via Google books I've been able to find some good quotes from Burton on the folly of Adam & Eve as the source of misery... But does he write anything on the resulting anger in humans, or the becoming of anger? (page numbers would be helpful) 

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

Stephen Holliday | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 30, 2012 at 10:57 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

In Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), The First Partition--The Causes of Melancholy, Section II, Memb.III, Subsection IX, we have a compelling discussion of how anger and aggression are among the most damaging aspects of melancholia:

ANGER, a perturbation, which carries the spirits outwards, preparing the body to melancholy, and madness itself: Ira furor brevis est, "anger is temporary madness;" . . .

Among all the elements of melancholy, anger is particularly dangerous because anger turns the affected person into a mad man or woman, completely without the positive effects of reason to guide behavior.

According to Burton,

[Mad men] are void of reason, inexorable, blind, like beasts and monsters for the time, say and do they know not what, curse, swear, rail, fight, and what not?

Whereas most symptoms of melancholia remain internal and make the victim miserable and dysfunctional, anger, which leads to aggression, affects everyone around the victim primarily because the angry person strikes out at others--"curse, swear, rail, fight."  In other words, anger and aggression become problems not for one person but for the society as a whole.

After pointing out the example of Charles the Sixth, King of France, and Herod, who killed a loyal retainer while in a fit of anger, Burton points out that anger

. . . 'ruins and subverts whole towns, cities, families and kingdoms;' . . . No plague hath done mankind so much harm.  Look into our histories, and you shall meet with no other subject, but what a company of hare-brains have done in their rage.

Again, most of the symptoms of melancholia that Burton analyzes in   The Anatomy are restricted in their effects to the person who is suffering from them, but anger and aggression hold a special place in the Anatomy because they have implications for not just a few other people who happen to be near the angry person but also for entire towns, even kingdoms, that can be put at risk by this disastrous form of melancholy.

 

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes