The Depths of Wickedness by Jaleelah Ammar
2019 finalist: Grade 10 to 12 category
Jaleelah Ammar is a finalist of the 2019 Shakespeare Selfie Student Writing Challenge. This annual writing competition challenges students to write a soliloquy or monologue in the voice of a Shakespearean character based on a prominent news, pop culture or current affairs event from the last year (April 2018 to April 2019).
Ammar, who attends Northern Secondary School in Toronto, wrote about the arrests of students St. Michael's College School on sexual assault charges from the perspective of Hamlet's Hamlet.
Oh, how the depths of wickedness extend
Much farther than the conscience dares to grasp.
That children, thoughts unmark'd, as bright and pure
As undisturbed freshly fallen snow
Could even start to feel the wisps of smoke
Which waft into the hearts of "grown-up" men
And suffocate the goodness that once grew?
That children could be led to temptation
By shadows; that their untresspassed souls
Would choose to torture one of their own kind
To rob him of his health and peace of mind
One whom, one moment sooner, was their friend?
This may prey on the morals of good men
Or shake the shared foundations women hold
Of blind belief in some inherent good
But I am not so easily deceived.
Can one insist that good is natural;
Found in the hearts of men of ev'ry land
When wicked wars and treachery pose threats
To mankind and its essence; greater than
The unencumbered wrath of Jupiter?
How sheltered must one be to hold to hopes
Of women's loyalty shining throughout
Dark nights, while they prove false at ev'ry turn
Deceiving men with painted scenes of grace
While slithering like eels behind their backs?
Young infants learn of evil in a flash
Of lightning merely minutes after birth
For 'tis evil indeed to pry a soul
From the tranquility of endless night
And thrust upon them urgency and light.
'Tis no surprise, then, that cruelty would stare
From even the obscured crevices
Of this delightless prison of a world.
And even in the newly kindled flames,
The gleaming lamps of hope to which we look,
Forever we shall see the reflections
Of our own blackest thoughts and deeds stare back.