"Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns all clean."
Quote by Maya Angelou
This quote was sent to me and asked me to give an explanation of what I thought it meant.
It's divided into two emotions, the idea of Bitterness and Anger, and I think that although sometimes these emotions might be seen as equal, they are infact very different and that is what the quote is trying to explain.
The idea of bitterness is more within yourself and personal. Although your bitterness might be a result of other people's actions, it is an emotion that we usually keep to ourselves and is sometimes portrayed through very slight and subtle gestures. But to be bitter about something doesn't represent such a strong emotion as anger, it seems more subtle and less enraged. I think the emotion of bitterness is connected to ourselves personally in the way that we don't project these feelings onto others and therefore the negative emotion that we hold is kept inside us and eats away at us in the form of holding a grudge. The quote compares bitterness to having cancer, it is not something that we can control, just like our reaction and attitudes to other people's actions is not something we can control. Cancer eats away at us inside until we can no longer help ourselves, being bitter makes people lonely, by having no one to confide in or expose their emotions. It is the host of this emotion which gets affected the most.
Anger can be seen to be a stronger emotion, the idea that we can enforce our anger onto other people. By being 'angry' we would assume that it is aimed at someone and they are exposed to this anger. It is not usually kept in side and anger can be in physical or emotional terms. This quote shows this by comparing it to fire. One mistake with fire by one person can affect more than one person. The emotion of anger on a single persons part can spread and affect many other people.
The challenging aspect of this quote is that it says 'it burns all clean' meaning that the emotion of anger which affects other people can burn them clean. The use of 'clean' seems an unusual fit for this sentence as we don't usually associate the act of burning with something being clean. This part of the quote could be interpreted in many different ways. You could argue that anger burns away the soul which leaves the body 'clean', however you could also argue that by being angry, unlike being bitter, we can resolve our issues and therefore leave their souls clean and free from the stem of the anger.
It would be nice to know how other people interpret this quotes and your views on it too.