Hope: Mr. Pope vs. The Shawshank Redemption

I’ve been thinking that I need to rewatch Shawshank Redemption while keeping Alexander Pope’s “Essay on Man” in mind. Essay on Man is where we get the saying “hope springs eternal,” and Shawshank is a movie about the triumph of hope.

But I think Pope was a bit more skeptical than we at first assume when we hear the saying “hope springs eternal.” The entire stanza is a bit more complicated:

Hope humbly then, with trembling pinions soar;
What the great teacher, Death; and God adore.
What future bliss, He gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest.
The soul, uneasy, and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Pope (hope springs eternal) and Shawshank (hope is a good thing, and no good thing ever dies), I think, are both right when they say that part of being human means always having hope; but is this a good thing if Pope is right? It’s obviously a good thing if Shawshank is accurate (Red finally getting out of prison and joining up with Andy on the beach – hope fulfilled), but what if Pope’s statement is more true? Hope, he says, cannot be fulfilled but in our next life; if we cannot fulfill our hopes in this life (or perhaps Pope means that we can fulfill hopes, but will never fulfill ALL our hopes until the next life, because we keep getting more?), is it worth having them? Or do they lead inevitably to disappointment? And is that disappointment worth it?

Something to think about; I think, at least, that I could make an interesting paper out of this; perhaps something more. We’ll see.

Tags »

Date: Tuesday, 2. August 2005 12:42
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Journal

Feed for the post RSS 2.0 Comment this post

1 Comment

  1. 1

    A follow up to this later tonight.

Submit comment

Login required