Theme of Hopes and Dreams

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Themes in literary works are perhaps the most important takeaway for the story. A theme is the central topic, or what represents what drives the overall storyline, as well as the decisions of the characters within it. The Mill on the Floss, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, and the film Good Will Hunting all share the common overarching theme of hopes and dreams. Hope, aspirations, ambitions, and a feeling of optimism are all important elements to each of the works discussed. In each work, this overall theme of hopes and dreams motivates a particular character’s decisions and actions, and is an underlying concept throughout each story.

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In The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, the theme of hopes and dreams is carried throughout the novel, particularly through Maggie Tulliver’s character. In fact, Maggie Tulliver may be representative of the author George Eliot’s own hopes and dreams for herself. Maggie’s intellectual and curious nature often refutes her family and society’s expectations for her, which leads to an internal struggle between following her own hopes and dreams, or following those in which her family had instilled upon her. In the novel, which took place during the Victorian Era, women are viewed much lower than men in society. Maggie often expresses her desire to be as intelligent as a man could be, despite being told that some knowledge is only meant for men, and not being able to attend school with her brother, Tom. Additionally, during this period, marriage and family was the ultimate dream in a woman’s life. However, Maggie goes against the societal rules of the era by following her own dreams and deciding to work as a governess, after which she was described as “a most undesirable niece” by her family (Eliot 420). She even rejects Philip’s marriage proposal and decides that she does not want to go through with her marriage with Stephen, either, which further shows Maggie’s need to follow her own hopes and dreams rather than those of society.

The idea of hopes and dreams can also be seen throughout Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King. Similarly to Maggie in The Mill on the Floss, Andy seems to carry this powerful theme of hope throughout the novella. The other characters in the novella who are inmates at Shawshank seem to be imprisoned by the fear of life outside of the jail, while Andy maintains a warm and positive demeanor throughout the story, radiating this idea of hopefulness and dreams of what life could be like on the outside world. Andy’s optimism spreads to some of the other prisoners in Shawshank; he is particularly able to help Red view life from a different perspective and better cope with his circumstances in the prison, saying “remember that hope is a good thing, Red, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies” (King 106). Andy’s grip on hope and his dreams help him survive the harsh prison life, and ultimately lead to his motivation for digging the tunnel through his cell wall and escaping from Shawshank.

Another piece that contains the theme of hopes and dreams is the film Good Will Hunting, written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The story is centered around Will, who grew up in a relatively rough area of South Boston and works as a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is labeled as a genius because he is extremely gifted at mathematics, but struggles with his internal fears of failure and rejection in pursuing his dreams and showing the world who he truly is. Will grew up as an orphan, and endured a painful childhood that stripped him of his hope. This initially prevents him from seeing a better life for himself or pursuing a career in math, despite the numerous prestigious job offers he receives. These fears also prevent him from displaying his affection for a girl he falls in love with from Harvard, Skylar. However, through the help of therapy sessions with a psychology professor, Sean, Will discovers his own self worth and realizes what actually matters to him. By the end of the film, Will decides that he is not actually satisfied with his life in Boston working physical labor jobs, and decides to follow his real hopes and dreams by accepting a corporate mathematics job and pursuing his love for Skylar. After watching the film, viewers can’t help but to feel hopeful.

Overall, the central theme of hopes and dreams has a strong presence throughout these three works. Maggie, the protagonist of The Mill on the Floss, goes against societal and family expectations and uses her wit and curiosity to pursue her own dreams. In Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, Andy maintains hope throughout his life in prison, which leads him to escape prison and fulfil his dreams for his life in the outside world. Will, in Good Will Hunting, lacks hope at the beginning of the story, but regains it after therapy sessions and ultimately pursues his dreams in his career and love life. All three stories instill a feeling of hope in their readers or viewers, inspiring them to go after their own dreams as each of these particular characters were able to do. 

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Theme Of Hopes And Dreams. (2021, Jul 01). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from
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