Doublets: I Have Been Bent and Broken, But, I Hope, Into A Better Shape

alex atkins bookshelf quotations“[When] suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but — I hope — into a better shape.”

Estella speaking to Pip, from the final chapter of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1812-1870). In the final scene, Pip visits the site of Satis House after a period of eleven years. While standing in the garden, Estella emerges from the moonlit mist. Both have changed a great deal since they last parted; Estella says, “I am greatly changed. I wonder you know me.” They sit down on a bench and fondly discuss the past. They realize that they have often thought of one another; however, Estella wants to assure Pip that she has changed for the better.

“What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

From the “Maxims and Arrows” chapter, which contains aphorism on various topics, from Twilight of the Idols (the original title of the book was A Psychologist’s Idleness) by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). The idea mirrors what Nietzsche has expressed in the preface: “War has always been the great wisdom of all spirits who have become too introspective, too profound; even in a wound there is the power to heal. A maxim, the origin of which I withhold from scholarly curiosity, has long been my motto: Increscunt animi, virescit volnere virtus. [“The spirits increase, vigor grows through a wound.”]  Nietzsche returns to that same notion in a later book, Ecco Homo, where he writes: “What does not kill him makes him stronger.” The line has been paraphrased a number of ways over the years in popular culture, including “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger” and “What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.”

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Read related posts: Doublets: Your Future is More Important Than Your Past
Doublets: Love
Doublets: Genius
Doublets: Youth and Maturity
Doublets: You Cannot Run Away From Yourself
Doublets: The Lessons of History
Doublets: Reading a Great Book
Doublets: Tolerance
Doublets: The Role of Religion
Doublets: Things Left Unsaid

2 responses to “Doublets: I Have Been Bent and Broken, But, I Hope, Into A Better Shape

  • BookerTalk

    Oops, meant to say … interesting to see how their thoughts converge

    • Alexander Atkins

      Hi Karen: Thanks for your comment. In a private library of more than 8,500 books, I often come across a quote and think: “wow, that sounds exactly like what so-and-so wrote.” Thus, doublets was born. It is fascinating to see different authors express the same thing so eloquently. Cheers. Alex

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