In this week's reading of “Shakespeare Saved my Life”, by Laura Bates we see a little of what Newton has been through. Newton has been through 3 extractions (forcible removal of an inmate from his cell) and he was sent to B-east (aka Beast) which was the most notorious wing of the SHU. B-east was basically the insane ward. Newton used an analogy to describe how he felt which was,
“When you’re at the bottom, and there’s no relief from the torment, you really feel trapped. I like to use the analogy that you’re way out of the middle of the ocean. You’re scared, panicking, desperate to do anything. You try swimming in one direction, you try another direction. You’re just desperate; that’s why you do desperate things and you overlook that’s it’s gonna make it worse. You see the potential for land, not thinking that it’s more sharks over there” (138).
I think everyone can relate to having at some point in their life done something desperate during a desperate time. It can be something minor or big but at the moment all the feelings are the same. One thing I can’t relate to with the prisoners is with the extent of how miserable and desperate they felt to get out of that condition. In Anthony Graves article “I Spent 16 Years in Solitary Confinement Hell. It Needs to End”, he stated that “Solitary confinement plays tricks on your mind. You’re bound by four walls, you’re cut off from society, and you’re left with just your own thoughts. Sometimes you start to feel like, if they treat me like this, I’m going to act like this. And then you risk becoming the kind of person that it seems like they’re trying to tell society that you are.” I think Newton and Graves both relate to each other with how they felt during their time in solitary confinement that led them to feel desperate at times.
Newton was at B-east for two years which he said “That had to be the most miserable time in my life!” (138), this was right before Shakespeare. We then learn that after ten years in isolation, Newton would finally be released into the general prison population. When participants leave the program they had to take a small survey that asked the question “What has Shakespeare done for you?” and Newton answered “Shakespeare saved my life” (153). Shakespeare not only helped Newton get through the most miserable time in his life but it helped him with his education. How do you think Shakespeare saved Newton’s life? Do you think Newton feels like Shakespeare saved his life because he was introduced to it at the most miserable time in his life? Do you think if he was introduced to Shakespeare before he was this miserable it would still have the same impact on him?
Graves, Anthony. "I Spent 16 Years in Solitary Confinement Hell. It Needs to End." Time. Time, n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.