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Faith In Kierkegaard's Breaking The Waves

630 words - 3 pages

Faith in Kierkegaard's Breaking the Waves

In Soren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, he discusses the "Three Movements to Faith." For Kierkegaard, faith of any kind involves a paradox. This paradox, as well as Kierkegaard's suggested path to faith, is illustrated by the main characters of Breaking the Waves, Bess and Jan.

Kierkegaard explains there are steps one can take towards faith; however, they are so difficult he believes only one person, the "Knight of Faith," has completed the movements. The first step is for one to make her/his wish the complete focus of her/his concentration. This finite desire must dominate one's consciousness, and must be the only wish she/he hopes for. Although the desire may seem impossible, it becomes possible when expressed spiritually. Kierkegaard calls the second movement the "infinite resignation": this involves the person acknowledging the impossibility of her/his wish. By resigning the finite desire, says Kierkegaard, the wish is bent inward. With this, the wish becomes religious, and thus not finite, but infinite. The third step involves believing that by resigning one's wish, she/he will actually obtain it infinitely. It is absurd to believe that by giving it up one will have her/his wish fulfilled, and so Kierkegaard calls this the paradox of faith: by believing the wish will come true since it was resigned, the wish will come true by virtue of faith.

In Breaking the Waves, Bess and Jan are a newly-married couple who only have limited time together as Jan works on an oil rig. Bess thanks God for the "greatest gift" (Jan) and is hysterically unhappy when he is gone. Initially Bess must consummate her love for Jan: her love has finite requirements, namely, having him home and engaging in sexual activity. She asks God to send Jan home ("Nothing else...

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