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The Theme of Resilience and Self-discovery in Good Will Hunting

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When it comes to life no one can predicate what their life holds and how it’s going to go. Life is full of ups and downs and it is up to people how they chose to respond. It is full of surprises that can be good or bad and sometimes that one bad can make us afraid of it following us for the rest of our lives. An aspect of life is the resilience that an individual has and how successful they decide to make their journey and how they don’t build that resilience and the conflicts that they go through to better themselves is what leads to self-discovery. This short but very meaningful quote from Greg Kincaid explains how an individual’s resilience can keep them going through the hard times, “No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear.” In Good Will Hunting directed by Gus Van Sant, we are introduced to the main protagonist Will Hunting who lives in the “bad” side of Chicago from the neighborhood of southie. His character who is played by Matt Damon. His change starts when he solves the math problem on the board at the university. Watchers are able to see how much Will changes throughout the film.

Resilience is something not everyone has but an attribute that people are able to build themselves due to the experiences that they go through and that they are still learning from. In most cases those events are what people are trying to forget about and not trying to be reminded of, many people struggle with the fact that life is going to be complicated and there are hardships that they have to endure and learn from. From resilience there is a form of self discovery. At the beginning of the movie Will is seen as wicked smart, strong willed and comes of as very reserved which defines him perfectly well because of the way he was raised. Will is a young man who most people would say got caught up with the wrong crowd and has lost his way at such a young age and is destroying whatever future he was going to have. The watchers can see how Will is very quiet and closed off and is not willing to let people in. Will’s facial expressions throughout the film are sometimes not clear because in most of the scene he has almost the same expressions, which is bored most of the time. In one of the scenes in the film we see how Will sticks up for his friend when a Harvard student wanted to punk his friend Chuckie to make him seem stupid, Will comes in the middle and humbles him with the knowledge that he said you could get the know for “a dollar fifty in late charges at the Public Library”.

Most people don’t know how to respond to the current events that is happening in their life which makes it harder for them to fully adapt and be able to change which can affect most of their environment. Sometimes it’s hard for most people to accept that their life is hard but when they do and can’t handle how hard that life is, they sometimes end their own struggle. When one takes time to reflect as to why their current circumstances are hindering their growth, they can look back on the past events which they are able to see that resilience has helped them fight whatever demons they were battling and achieve the goals that they wanted. This allows people the opportunity to discover things about themselves which can help them with their relationship. Will’s transformation began when he started solving math problems meant for students at Harvard which lead him to meet Professor Lambeau which later got him to meet Sean Maguire as the court has said that he must go to therapy which Will has gone through two therapists before meeting Sean Maguire. It gives viewers in insight that Will is very stubborn and doesn’t want to let others in that easily which can be seen when he tells one of the therapists that he is gay and started singing in the middle of the session with the other one which made both therapists not want to deal with him. This is an example of Will hiding behind his smarts and being able to get away from situations that he deems uncomfortable or just doesn’t want to deal with. With everything going on in Will’s life and from his past are making him very reluctant of people and isn’t willing to accept any form of love or compassion from people that aren’t his friends. Will getting arrested was the turning point that was needed although he was arrested before this arrest was different because Professor Lambeau was looking for him due to his smarts. When Will started his sessions with Sean he starts off by saying things to divert attention from himself to things around the room and he gets to talking about Sean’s wife which makes him angry and he tells Will “Disrespect my wife again and I will end you” which made Will take a step out of himself and realize that not everyone is going to take everything he dishes out. The test of Will’s resilience is shown when both him and Sean are sitting in the room not talking and just watching the clock, none of them wanted to talk first which would show great strength to one’s character. But Will ends up talking first breaking the macho behaviour that both the men have.

Resilience is something everyone needs when trying to achieve aspects that is difficult, from resilience comes the growth of a backbone that most people lack. Resilience is something that is needed to tackle all the difficult obstacles and goals that one is trying to achieve. Most people have a future planned for themselves while others don’t due to circumstances that they aren’t there fault. Self discovery is something that comes hand in hand with resilience. Learning and discovering things about oneself is a path of learning more information. Will’s most noticeable change is seen when he’s opening up to Sean and talking more about himself and his relationship with Skylar. Will starts to tell Sean that he doesn’t want to get to involved with Skylar because he’s afraid that she may not be how he sees her which Sean responds with “You’re not perfect, sport, and let me save you the suspense; this girl you’ve met, she’s not perfect either. But the question is weather or not you’re perfect for each other.” Which Will is doesn’t seem to understand at first because he can’t fully let Skylar in to his world. Will tells Sean about his childhood growing up “My father was an alcoholic. Mean fuckin’ drunk. He’d come home hammered, looking to whale on somebody. So, I’d provoke him, so he wouldn’t go after my mother and little brother. Interesting nights were when he wore his rings.” Which is a big break through for Will because he doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him or to have pity on anything that he went through as a child. Wills exchanges help in his new way of thinking because now he knows that he has a safe place to talk without that feeling that he is a burden to Sean. Will’s transformation has illuminated the topic of resilience by showing us that he is able to deal with all the hardships that they have went through at a young age. He is able to show a bold front and not let anyone see his struggle within himself and his road to self discovery which is prompted with the therapy he is going to. This relates to today’s society by letting viewers know that self discovery is needed along side resilience when dealing with life and the struggles that come with life. Today’s society is made to let people feel as though their struggles aren’t as important because almost everyone is dealing with the same thing. “You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” That is something Sean tells Will during their session

Throughout Will’s time with Sean and his journey of self discovery Will has changed in a slight way. Sean is able to get through Will in the scene where he tells Will “It’s not your fault’ over and over until Will breaks down sobbing. That was something Will never heard, and he’s been crying the guilt that it was his fault that his father was abusive. Chuckie who is Will’s best friend ask him about what he is going to do about the jobs, which Will tells him that he doesn’t want any of the jobs. Chuckie been someone who wants what’s best for Will tells him that he’s stupid for not using his gift that a lot of people would love to have. Chuckie has no more interest in weather or not Will sticks around anymore. Chuckie thinks that Will owes it to himself to try to do something with the talent that he has. Chuckie then goes on to tell Will “Look, you’re my best friend, so don’t take this the wrong way but, in twenty years if you’re still livin’ here, coming over to my house, watchin’ the Patriots games, workin’ construction, I’ll fuckin’ kill ya. That’s not a threat, that’s a fact. I’ll fuckin kill ya.” Which makes Will go out the following day to get the job that Professor Lambeau set for him. And just as their first meeting started their last one came to an end, Will is finished with his therapy sessions. He goes to the lobby of the interview place, but we never see him do the actual interview. The next scene we see Will in his car at Sean’s house going to the mall box to deliver a letter which says that he’s going to go after a girl. Will sets out to go and get his girl back which he knows now that he loves her. Throughout the events that have played through Will’s life resilience was needed although he did have self discovery until the end. He was on the path to self discovery. Resilience is key to knowing how someone will respond under tense situations. Through the therapy sessions Will is able to get over his childhood trauma that makes him ouch people away which took great resilience, and, in the end, he had self discovery.

Defining resilience is something which is easy to do but to define self discovery is a bit tricky. The ability that one has when it comes to resilience is defined by themselves and how well the respond to the situations. Resilience builds character and courage and a backbone which is needed to be a stronger person. Will’s transformation from a closed off who was working as a janitor and a not so model citizen has made him give up that cold and closed off deminer that he had. His resilience towards the rest of the world represents that he doesn’t want to be left by people that is why he shuts them off before they have the opportunity to leave him. Will never lost his way in life because he his life never fully started, he is young, so he still has time to grow and learn. In society not many people have resilience and that can be seen in how people respond to the smallest thing that doesn’t don’t need the energy that they put into it. Some people fail to learn from their past mistakes and repeat it and never gain self discovery which makes them very fragile to real world issues that they sometimes can’t handle. In conclusion a quote from Carrie Bradshaw about trying to find oneself and discovering themselves, “I wasn’t searching for something or someone…. I was searching for me.”

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The Theme Of Resilience And Self-discovery In Good Will Hunting. (2021, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 22, 2022, from
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