The movie ‘Good Will Hunting’ revolves around the interaction of two rebellious characters, who, to a certain extent, help each other to conform slightly. The rebels depicted in the movie are the two main characters, Will and Sean. Will is a mathematical genius with a complete disrespect for authority and for his own considerable talents. He does not worry about gaining credit for his talent or making any money from it, but instead hangs around his friends and has a good time. Sean is a therapist / psychiatrist whose wife has died from cancer several years previously, and Sean has never really recovered from this.
He also chose a less ‘academic’ path for his considerable talent, and has been wrestling with this decision all his life. Will rebels partly because he has been subjected to a violent and abusive childhood. He has been put through several foster families and been assaulted many times by his numerous foster parents. From these experiences, he has developed a negative view of society, and feels that he has been betrayed by it. Another reason for Will’s rebellion is that as a result of his aptitude he finds everything intellectual very simple, and finds having to explain himself to everyone very tedious.
As a consequence Will ‘rebels’ against his own talent, and finds a group of friends to whom he does not have to constantly explain himself. Sean rebels against Jerry, as he has been pushing Sean all his life, from when they were at college together, and when he issues a challenge in the form of Will, Sean accepts. He is willing to do anything he can in order to prove to Jerry that he is not a failure, and could have been just as successful if he had chosen to follow that path.
Sean also rebels against the other psychiatrists who have chosen the easiest option – to give up on Will when he offers a little resistance. Sean continues to see Will and withstands all of his opposition, until Will concedes and is willing to take it seriously. Will rebels by not living up to his true potential, adopting a life with fairly simple goals in comparison to what he could achieve. He also does not accept any form of commitment in his life, not wanting to get too attached to anyone or anything.
Will has great difficulty in having and sustaining a relationship with Skyler, and also in admitting his true feelings for her as he fears he will be rejected. This fear of commitment is partly the reason why it takes Will so long to open up to Sean in therapy, as he is scared of rejection, which has been instilled in him as a child through the abuse he suffered from his parents. Sean rebels against conformity by persisting to council Will after Will’s initial opposition to him, whereas the other therapists have dropped out at the first sign of trouble.
He sees the genius in Will, and believes that it is worth fighting for. In continuing to council Will, Sean is also rebelling against Jerry, as he is proving to him that he can beat Will, something that Jerry cannot do. The conformists that Will is rebelling against are people like Jerry, who are constantly trying to get him to achieve the most he can in life, to conform, even if he does not wish to and prefers the way things are now. The conformists think that Will is wasting his genius by spending his days performing only menial jobs and drinking at the local pub.
They know that they can never have what Will has, and are almost angered by the fact that he is not using it to his full advantage, and achieving what they could never dream of. Although Jerry genuinely thinks he is looking out for Will and helping him to find his way, to some extent, Jerry is using Will as a connection to is past brilliance, pushing him on to achieve what Jerry himself wanted to but never could. The conformists that Sean is rebelling against are the people in society who give in at the first sign of conflict, these people are represented by the therapists, who after one session with Will decide he is not worth the effort.
They are self-important people, who think that their time and effort is worth more then anyone else’s, and so should not be bothered. He also rebels against society’s ‘reward system’ for genius – he speaks contemptuously of Jerry’s medal, which Jerry seems to regard so highly. This is possibly as Sean fears he is not as clever as Jerry and wouldn’t have been able to win the medal himself, and therefore didn’t try. The result of Will’s rebellion is that he eventually commits to both a job and to a girlfriend, showing that he has conformed slightly and is willing to risk the chance of rejection.
This hint of conformity however is lessened when he chooses to run off to be with his girlfriend and leave his job unresolved. This action parallels Sean missing the major baseball game the day he went on his first date with his future wife. He has taken note of Sean’s advice about not letting the important things in life pass you by. The result of Sean’s rebellion is that he helps Will to get over his fears and to come to terms with his life. Sean takes over the position of Will’s father, helping him through the problems he has and becoming his friend.
As a result of spending time with Will, Sean is also seen to conform slightly, accepting the offer of a collage reunion which he has been refusing previously and also moving from his current job to a reputable university. Will and Sean are alike in their rebellious tendencies, and its because of this that they can relate to one another’s positions in life and assist each other through the tough times. It was only once Will realised that Sean was not so different from himself that he allowed memories and feeling from his past back up to the surface, and accept the help that Sean offered.