The Power of Secrets


From my 2009 Journal. Last night I watched the movie The Mayor of Casterbridge—based on Thomas Hardy’s novel. It’s an interesting contrast between two characters. Henchard is a drunkard who, when under the influence of drink, auctions off his wife and child and then repents and regrets it. He then vows not to drink for 21 years and becomes the mayor in another town, though he’s not very gentle with his employees (he has a grain business). Farfrae, meanwhile, is the protagonist (the Christ-figure in some aspects) as he exhibits love and grace and graciousness even when wronged.

But the main theme of the story is the power of secrets. We’re not talking about temporary secrets such as Christmas presents or birthday surprises. These secrets are meant to be revealed eventually and are for the benefit of another person. Hidden secrets, on the other hand, hold power over us, propel us to do wrong things, and impact others negatively. They cover us with shame and fear of the consequences if they are discovered. We can become a slave to the one who discovers our secret and who holds it over us like a weapon.

What difference might the consequences be if one revealed one’s secret immediately rather than waiting for 30 years to expose it? Sharing one’s secret, however, must be done carefully—to a trusted person—else one becomes further traumatized.

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