To deal with tragedy and grief, humans have a coping mechanism which we know as the grieving process. There are many steps to this process and, as far as we know, human beings are the only creatures on the earth to have a such a thing. In nature, death is common and the animals know that life is fleeting. When an animal dies, there is no time for the others to mourn them, life is hard and they must keep living. Life and death are natural cycles but human society has gone so far from nature that we have socially conditioned ourselves to be disconnected from it and all its attributes. In times of trouble or of grief, we try to comfort ourselves and one of the ways we can do that is to connect with our own "natural wisdom." Natural wisdom is something which we are all born with, but throughout life, as we are conditioned in society, we lose our ability to get in touch with it. In William Wordsworth's "The Ruined Cottage" the old pedlar Armytage tries to reconnect with nature to help ease his grief at the death of a friend. Armytage works to attain natural wisdom, so that he can be have solace and come to the realization that though Margaret is dead, she is finally at peace. .
Searching for peace of his own, Armytage once again visits the home of Margaret. He runs into a friend, the narrator, and as part of the grieving process, relates the sad tale. As the poem progresses, so does Armytage's grief. In line 119, Armytage says that he sometimes sits and yields "to the foolishness of grief." This shows that even though he believes that he shouldn't indulge in grief, he still does because he had strong feelings for Margaret. A long time friend of hers, Armytage drifts in and out of her life and the reader can see the guilt, one of the steps of the grieving process, that he feels through what he tells the narrator. As his story progresses, Armytage gets more and more emotional and he questions:.