I’ve been remembering the last part of Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky,
‘”And will it not be better?” I mused fantastically, afterwards at home, stifling the living pang of my heart with fantastic dreams. “Will it not be better that she should keep the resentment of the insult for ever? Resentment–why, it is purification; it is a most stinging and painful consciousness! Tomorrow I should have defiled her soul and have exhausted her heart, while now the feeling of insult will never die in her heart, and however loathsome the filth awaiting her–the feeling of insult will elevate and purify her … by hatred … h’m! … perhaps, too, by forgiveness…. Will all that make things easier for her though? …”
And, indeed, I will ask on my own account here, an idle question: which is better–cheap happiness or exalted sufferings? Well, which is better?’
It is true that difficult circumstances can deepen and improve a person, but to impose them on someone on purpose for that end seems of course cruel. But at the same time, goodness can overcome evil, so that no matter if the worst possible thing happens, good can come out of it. In that way we do not despair over the narrator’s failings, nor even Eliza’s fate. I used to despair over such and became angry at stories like this. I couldn’t take it. Romantic happiness was the only happiness. Anything else was death. But that’s not true, and it is idolatry, not to mention shortsighted, to think it is. Death isn’t even the end.